Keyboard Magazine, I have a challenge for you:

I think this solo desperately wants a Keyboard transcription. You know, “Play like Sun Ra.” It may require a larger insert, but maybe it could be sponsored by Yamaha or something.

Okay, granted, Earthlings might argue that this sounds chaotic, but on Sun Ra’s native planet Jupiter, this actually borders on the pedestrian. It’s pretty conventional 83-fingered hyperlocramixydixylycradidian mode, transposed here to what is apparently a Yamaha YC-30. Sun Ra even makes a nod to the fact that the Jupiterians’ torso typically rotates at increasing speed during live performances, as an especially “grupicosmilogical” solo causes their arms to detach.


You want me to do the transcription?

Due when?

SUN RA – Live – Keyboard Solo (1980) [Matrixsynth]

In all seriousness, this just happened to coincide with listening to some Sun Ra records this weekend … if you don’t know his music, take some time to listen to it. YouTube excerpts with bad sound could easily give you the wrong idea. The ability to order a certain amount of entropy into larger forms that really are connected with the jazz tradition is amazing. And for those of you running boring, equal-measured loops in Ableton, spend some time with the polyrhythms. Sun Ra does have good stuff to teach. And it makes me look forward to Yuri’s Night in April all the more — Sun Ra is the artist who really went to space, and brought us back some music. Who needs Virgin Galactic?

  • that video was superb supercosmic soundarrhea, i'm in for sun ra

  • dead_red_eyes

    Ahhh good ol' Sun Ra. Crazy to see him on CDM! I'm a very big fan of the 50's-60's era Sun Ra material, leading into the early 70's. His later stuff was just a little too crazy for me. I have mad respect for him tho.

    Interplanetary … interplanetary, interplanetary music!

  • I didn't understand sun-ra until I saw the movie. I knew I liked his music, I just didn't know how much I liked his music.


  • Shiro

    I'm a big Sun Ra fan!!!

    I wish we still had free thinking people on this planet that made original artistic music.

  • Greg

    I don't think that transcription would be too difficult if you just used graphic notation 🙂

  • A couple of years ago WFMU's Beware the Blog had MP3s of an album cashing in on the Batman TV series that was music composed and performed by Sun Ra and his Arkestra – it's really pretty cool.

  • he isn`t from Jupiter.

    sun ra is from Saturn.

    cheers )

    p.s. he is superb.

  • lematt

    wow !

    that's a solo !

  • Rick Wright, take this! 😉

  • It's about time! Sunny was on the bleeding edge before most people knew what a synthesizer was. His bio has some really great passages about his relationship with MOOG and how early of an adopter he really was. He also rocked heavily on a variety of Crumar gear, and made mincemeat of the DX-7. If you get a chence, find a decent copy of Don Letts' "Brother From Another Planet" movie. A very easy-listening introduction for the recruitment of a new generation of space-age travelers.

  • Machines

    @Shiro: We do.

  • RingMod

    Ahh, luv me some Sun Ra. As stated elsewhere, it's not for everyone, but for some of us it's sheer brilliance!

    pete – did you ever read Analog Days? The anecdote about him dropping by the Moog factory in upstate NY (in big Caddies with his 'entourage') and picking up a prototype Minimoog (which he apparently never bothered to pay for) is wonderful.

    Long live the heliocentric worlds of Sun Ra!

  • RingMod, I know that anecdote from the Szwed book, Space is the Place, and afaik it was corroborated by Moog himself. The quote in the minimoog wiki says "We loaned it to him and Sun Ra’s way of working is that when you loan him something you don’t expect to see it back." And that sounds right. SITP also has descriptions of his early electric keyboards, dating to the early 50's and perhaps earlier. My copy is on loan to another intergalactic traveler, so I can't look up the references right now. Suffice it to say that Sunny was as ahead of the synth game as he was on just about everything else!

  • David R.

    The Arkestra still lives together in north philly.

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