By Madeline Bocaro © Madeline Bocaro, 2019. No part of this site may be reproduced or reblogged in whole or in part in any manner without the permission of the copyright owner.
This is an excerpt from my Yoko Ono biography…
An all-embracing look at Yoko’s life and work in stunning detail.
Read all about the book, see the reviews and
Yoko’s first solo album, Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band (a companion to John’s first POB album without The Beatles) was recorded shortly after their recording of Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins in 1968. These sessions were the first instance in which John introduced a rhythm to Yoko’s music. The vocals were especially raw as the couple had been undergoing Primal Therapy with Arthur Janov.
Yoko’s raw, intense avant-garde vocals are derivative of hetai, a Japanese vocal technique in Kabuki theatre which requires straining of the voice. She also emulates a woman during childbirth. We can hear her crying inside. Though she speaks two languages fluently, why does she choose not to use words?
BECAUSE THERE ARE NO WORDS!
In 1968 Ornette Coleman invited Yoko to perform at Royal Albert Hall). ‘AOS’ is from a live rehearsal for this show billed as Emotion Modulation. The musicians were; Coleman (on trumpet) and his band – one drummer and two standup bass players; Charlie Haden and David Izenzon, with Ed Blackwell on drums. Yoko gave the piece a hybrid title, ‘AOS’ (combining the Japanese word “AO” meaning blue(s) and OS from the English ‘chaos’). Could ‘Blue Chaos’ have been intended to deviate from Miles Davis’ album title, Kind of Blue (1959)?
Yoko’s stipulation was that it be her piece – not the band’s. Foregoing musical notation, she scored the music with written words to convey what the musicians should play. Her hand-written instructions are pictured in the album’s liner notes:
…Think of the days when you had to suffer in silence for ten days of eternity before you could give, and yet you were afraid of giving because what you were giving was so true and so total, you knew that you would suffer a death after that.
Think of the days when you allowed silences in your life for dreaming…
This is no shit. No mood or whatever you call it. It’s real…
Forget about what you’ve learnt or heard in the music academy world…
*AOS is also the title of a short Yoji Kuri film made in 1964, for which Yoko vocalized on the soundtrack.
Here is a story about the film on Yoji Kuri’s 90th birthday, April 11, 2018. https://www.awn.com/animationworld/keep-it-motion-classic-animation-revisited-aos
Another work titled AOS was performed as part of Works of Yoko Ono at Carnegie Recital Hall on November 24, 1961 (Restaged at Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo, May 1962). The ‘opera’ titled ‘AOS – To David Tudor’ was performed in the dark – in total silence, without instruments. The only audible sounds were inadvertent. The instruction was to walk across the stage without making any noise. Yoko’s aim was to break the audience from habitual patterns of listening and thinking.
This is an excerpt from my Yoko Ono biography
In Your Mind – The Infinite Universe of Yoko Ono
The true, complete and deeply insightful story of the extraordinary woman John Lennon loved.
Now in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives
On several Best Books lists
Acclaimed by MOJO magazine
Recommended by Olivia Harrison
Honorable Mention on The Beatles Gift Guide
Spotlighted on Apple Jam – The Beatles Channel, Sirius XM Radio
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Yoko with Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, Dr. David Izenzon
and Ed Blackwell, 1968 :
John’s letter – excitedly describing ‘AOS’- to Amercian TV host Joe Franklin…
Yoko & Ornette in 2015