A couple of months ago, we received an interesting comment thanking us for a quote we posted from John Cage’s A Year from Monday“Even though I have 2 copies of this book, knew JC and spent 30 years performing his music, it was still great to see”. It was signed ‘Fast Forward’. Well of course we followed the trail.

We found ourselves on the website of a prolific New York city-based experimental composer who favors non-traditional percussion instruments made of…ANYTHING, from industrial paint cans to metal staircases (“basically one big piece of sonorous metal”). We instantly fell in love with Musique a la Mode in which all instruments were made from common kitchen items: pots, pans, bowls, cutlery, tools, food…(favorite moments: 1:40 mins where the spatulas seem to have a life of their own…2:45 a whisk in a metal sauce container….5:45 music made from pasta). We find ourselves running the video while we work just to listen to Fast’s music in the background.

Fast performs all over the world, created music for many of Merce Cunninghams event works, is the mastermind behind a participatory performance experience Feeding Frenzy (involving 5 cooks and 5 musicians, 5 waiters and an audience), teaches, photographs, makes art, and always, music. But what knocked us out, in addition to all this, was how generous he was right off the bat, to a stranger (us).

In our email exchange, we barely mentioned our concerns about ‘the improvised life’s (and our own) financial situation. Like a good friend, Fast picked up on it right away and sent us back these words:

“re: $$

My friend Robert Ashley told me about 30 yrs ago ‘Keep on doing what you are doing and sooner or later someone will pay you to do it’. Good advice.

Every day something happens which spreads the word and brings you into new areas of contact. Look at our contact for example.

If you do something well (which you do) people will want to associate in some way and bigger numbers brings interest and interest can nurture investment. Sounds good on paper right ;-).

But I do believe it. Most of the growth that happens in my life comes from having done something before and (very important), treated people well.”

We found ourselves calmed and heartened and moved by these words from a generous and gifted stranger…a reminder we needed to hear…

…which is why we feature artists so much: they shift our view and point us to possibilities we hadn’t thought of…

…like, what an instrument can be:

…bottle caps on a frame drum…

Fast Forward's bottle cap and frame drum
Fast Forward


Fast Forwards hubcap instruments
Fast Forward

…crackers and cereal…

Fast Forward crackers and cereal instrument
Fast Forward

…giant industrial springs…

Fast Forward playing giant springs
Fast Forward

…says Fast: “I try to allow the instruments to teach me the music they can best produce…as opposed to forcing my musical intentions upon the instruments”. 


Thanks Fast Forward!

Check out Fast Forward’s website, and follow his performances on his newly-launched Facebook page.

Video link for Musique a la Mode here. Japanese video report of Feeding Frenzy here.


Related posts: improvising as “listening”
improvising as listening pt.2
bathroom read: john cage’s “a year from monday”
john cage applying ‘what would happen’ if to music
make your own music
new music from the vegetable orchestra

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4 replies on “role model: fast forward on $$, improvising and music

  1. This is a great and very inspiring post. I can really relate to it. thank you!

  2. yes, inspiring and uplifting and yet another sweet invitation into the field of unlimited possibilities…can’t wait to we all sit down to a great meal! thanks so much for this post today (realize its yesterday’s, but then again!)…such good timing! yes…calmed and heartened and even more excited for today.

  3. nice post! it shows all of us that we do not have to look far to find art in our living. great photos too! I follow your blog and send you my congratulations.

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