Album Notes


The Lessons

Side A
Isolde (Marie Isolde) 6:49
Raoul de Noget (No-Zhay) 6:49

Side B
Buddy 6:49
The Captain of the Football Team (Donnie) 7:15

MUSIC WORD FIRE AND I WOULD DO IT AGAIN: THE LESSONS (1981), from Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives, an opera commissioned and produced for television by The Kitchen. Principal collaborators are Peter Gordon (Music Producer), John Sanborn (Video Director), Carlota Schoolman (Producer for The Kitchen), and “Blue” Gene Tyranny (Music Collaborator). Perfect Lives features the extraordinary keyboard inventions of “Blue” Gene Tyranny and the singing of Robert Ashley, Jill Kroesen and David Van Tieghem.

The Lessons was produced as a collaboration between the TV Lab at WNET/Thirteen and The Kitchen. Video effects were designed and edited by John Sanborn in collaboration with Robert Ashley, Kit Fitzgerald and Carlota Schoolman. Costumes by Jacqueline Humbert with the assistance of Mary Ashley.

In Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives, Buddy (The World’s Greatest Piano Player) teaches his secrets to a select few through a set of videotapes currently in the hands of Baby, an all-around spiritual seeker and wife of Rodney (The Bartender). These legendary tapes are documents of rare and impossible occasions at the piano (“...and how they do it no one knows.”). If you can’t play boogie woogie after this half-hour, there’s no hope.

The Lessons, variations on the theme song from Episode Three of the television opera (“The Bank”), introduced the four principal characters in cameo performances. The video and music techniques unique to the seven-episode series are presented in four seven-minute portraits of Isolde (Marie Isolde), Raoul de Noget (No-Zhay), Buddy (The World’s Greatest Piano Player), and The Captain of the Football Team (his parents call him Donnie).

Music and words by Robert Ashley.
Arranged and produced as “The Lessons” for Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives (Private Parts).

Rhythm/vocal beds mixed by Peter Gordon.
Prepared-piano solos by “Blue” Gene Tyranny with John Sanborn’s advice.
Vocal and instrumental overdubs arranged by Peter Gordon, Robert Ashley and “Blue” Gene Tyranny.
Robert Ashley, Jill Kroesen, and David Van Tieghem: vocals (with John Sanborn added to the Boogie Woogie chorus).
“Blue” Gene Tyranny: Prepared-piano (solos), polymoog, organ and vocoder.
Peter Gordon: Arp string ensemble, prophet 5, vocoder and live processing.
David Van Tieghem: Drums, synare and vocal percussion.

Arranged by Peter Gordon, Robert Ashley and “Blue” Gene Tyranny.
Produced by Peter Gordon.
Engineered by Joshua Harris.
Mixed by Peter Gordon, Joshua Harris, and Robert Ashley.
Recorded and mixed at Right Track Recording Studios, New York City.

Rhythm basics were derived from the “Palace” Organ, courtesy of Gulbransen, CBS Musical Instruments, a division of CBS, Inc.
(The idea of the prepared-piano was developed in the early works of John Cage.)

“The Lessons” (28 one-minute pieces for television) are derived from songs heard in “The Bank” (Episode Three) of Perfect Lives (Private Parts), an opera in seven episodes by Robert Ashley.
Perfect Lives (Private Parts) was commissioned for television by The Kitchen Center for Video, Music and Dance, New York City.
“The Lessons” videotape was designed and edited for television by John Sanborn, with Robert Ashley, Kit Fitzgerald and Carlota Schoolman.
Television producer for The Kitchen: Carlota Schoolman.
Costumes for the television production by Jackie Humbert.
Production assistance by Larry Brickman.

Special thanks to Marc Grafe for sound installations.

Mastered by Bob Ludwig, Masterdisk Corporation, New York City.

Management and inspiration for Robert Ashley by Performing Artservices, Inc., New York City.

Design: Patrick Vitacco

Copyright © Robert Ashley, 1981
Published by Visibility Music Publishers (BMI)
©P 1981 Vital Records, Inc.

VR 4908