As we continue our survey of releases on the Innova Music label... New Yorker Judy Dunaway makes music with balloons. If you're like me, you're first response to that might be: "Huh, wha...?" whilst cocking your head like a confused puppy. But, as Dunaway's liner notes point out, balloons have been used in music since at least the '60s. Avant-jazz cat Anthony Braxton even wrote a piece for 250 ballooons divided among 15 musicians.
Dunaway's album title could describe her as well: "Mother of Balloon Music." Throughout it's six pieces she not only rubs ballons, but she releases air from them, and "prepares" other instruments by placing them under the strings. It's all quite wonderfully weird, playful, and funny, in stark contrast to her dead-serious political justifications for using balloons, somehow relating her choice of musical instrument to fighting off oppression and sexism. What?! I read her notes thinking: "You gotta be kidding. 'Take that, Mr. Misogynist Slave-Master Pope, I've got BALLOONS!'" She also claims in her notes that Joan of Arc was transgendered (?!), and challenges the Western classical music hegemeny, even tho she acknowledges that the post-Cage music scene has thrown off that mantle long ago.
And yet every thing about her music career suggest classical orthodoxy, from her academic background, to her choice of writing for string quartets, and compositional modes like "etudes," to her intellectual theorizing. Come on Judy, lighten up - they're balloons! Making music with balloons is silly, in the best possible way. They make funny, flatulent sounds. If you really want to throw off the oppressive Dead White European Male traditions, you should have fun with this. Call yourself Balloonzo The Clown or something. Perform on a unicycle. Anyway. Very inventive stuff, recommended, and dig this wild and woozy mp3 that sounds like the chugging strings from Hermann's "Psycho" soundtrack goofed up on cough syrup:
Judy Dunaway: "For Balloon and String Quartet - Second Movement" (excerpt)