Are You Experienced?
Subtitle: For Narrator, Electric Tuba and 13 Players
Year: 1987 / 1997
Duration: c. 22:35
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Red Poppy
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental
1. On Being Hit on the Head - 2:55
2. Dance - 6:25
3. On Being Hit on the Head (reprise) - 1:05
4. On Hearing the Voice of God - 2:15
5. Drop - 6:10
6. On Hearing the Siren's Song - 3:25
B-flat Soprano Clarinet/B-flat Bass Clarinet
Horn in F
Solo Electric Tuba
- Bass Drum
- Brake Drum
- Suspended Cymbal
- Tenor Drum (2)
- Thunder Sheet, amplified
- Unpitched clanging metals (4)
None discovered thus far.
Are You Experienced? is the title of a famous Jimi Hendrix song that became one of the anthems of the 1960s counterculture; and it became the title, as well, of the late guitarist’s first album, a strikingly original work of its time and, now, a pop classic.
Lang’s restlessness and his taste for the ridiculous can also be heard in Are You Experienced?—which was commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts for David Stock and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble in 1987 and revised two years later. The piece starts off almost as a joke, the evoking of Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelically fluid electric guitar with its absurd antithesis, the electric tuba. And Lang’s dramatic score for narrator, solo tuba and ensemble—which is a reaction to, rather than an arrangement or appropriation of, the original song—explores the darker antithesis to Hendrix’s hedonistic “experience” with sex and drugs. Hendrix’s song is the experience of losing your mind to pleasure; Lang’s is about simply losing your mind. Comprised of six sections (“On being hit on the head,” “Dance,” “On being hit on the head”(reprise), “On hearing the voice of God,” “Drop,” “On hearing the siren’s song”), the narrator’s text, a fantasy on images from Hendrix’s song, goes from what first seems a Three-Stooges dancing bewilderment following a knock on the bean, to disturbing mystical delusions, to scary returns to childhood (here “Drop” is the command school children in the 1950s practiced in case of nuclear attack), to utter confusion.
Musically, Lang’s score follows this progression through a dissolution of order. The jarring hit on the head (groups of repeated notes alternating on and off the beat) leads to a raucous, rocking dance of fast, repeated sixteenth-notes in rapid short crescendos culminating in a riotous electric tuba solo encased in trademark Hendrix feedback. Following the reprise of the first section, where it becomes apparent the hit on the head was serious—not funny—the music becomes more rhythmically fragmented, long notes dominate. The tuba wails and breaths heavily, while drums beat in the fourth section; the fifth ends in a nuclear bang that leaves the scattered music of the ending in its wake.
- Program Note by Mark Swed
- Audio CD: Netherlands Wind Ensemble (Stephen Mosko, conductor) - 1995
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.) Wind Symphony (James Spinazzola, conductor; Justin Chervony, tuba; Stephen Spinelli, narrator) – 18 November 2016
- University of Maryland Wind Orchestra (Michael Votta, conductor) – 6 November 2015
- University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) Wind Ensemble (Travis J. Cross, conductor; Luke Storm, tuba; Robert Winter, narrator) - 10 March 2015
Works for Winds by This Composer
- Are You Experienced? (1987)
- Cheating, Lying, Stealing (2011)
- David Lang website
- Lang, D. (1990). Are You Experienced? : For Narrator, Electric Tuba, and 13 Players: 11 April 1988 [score]. Novello: London.