This is a piece I recently rediscovered while transferring audio from old DAT tapes. It first developed as a guitar practice exercise in 1988. I was rehearsing non-standard time signatures, while listening to 4/4 rock beats. What evolved was a little figure in 7/8 that sounded similar to a tune by one of my favorite groups, Massacre (Fred Frith, Bill Laswell, Fred Maher.) This riff may have developed while trying to learn how to play Massacre’s Killing Time. What emerged from this exercise was a Massacre pastiche. But not nearly as good. You might call it a “Massacre massacre.” What my song lacked was the jarring, angular melody that forms a central theme in the original “Killing Time.” My version has a breakdown.

I hadn’t really intended to write about this piece. However, when I first posted it to online, my friend Bruce Hamilton pointed out that it had similarities to Gyorgi Ligeti‘s 1978 work, Hungarian Rock for Cembalo. I sincerely thought I remembered how this song was created. I thought I recalled how and why I’d written it. It was a finger exercise. It was a pastiche exercise. It was an homage. But I had completely forgotten that I had ever listened to the Ligeti. When Hamilton pointed out the similarities in the two pieces, I immediately recalled that I had first heard the Ligeti while studying composition under David Schiff, when I was an undergraduate at Reed College.

At the time I wrote this song, I wasn’t aware of the fact that it was influenced by Ligeti. I’m sure that I thought it was just Fred Frith, who I was purposefully copying. In retrospect, it all seems as though it is an exercise in how memory functions during the creative process. Unconsciously pulling bits and pieces together from our experiences, we allow ourselves to believe, however erroneously, that we understand how everything works, and where it all comes from.


Guitars and Bass: Vance Galloway

Drums: Dave Weinstock

Recording: Nellie Korn

Date: 1991