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november 23, 2013.
"The difference with a concert is,
it is not a concert"
An earlier paper of Rébus and mine, written and published a little while ago, was called 'Az elektroakusztikus improvizáció mint metanyelv és rögzített pont'. With the passing of time not only does the already then overwhelming evidence in support of the paper's thesis continue to grow (one day surely it will be among the truths that we hold to be self-evident), also I am totally convinced that this is as good and decisive a title as titles can possibly get. So why not have all of your next & upcoming papers bear that very same title? All of your books, all of your blogs? Inside the wheels of a polarity, with a drilling caught in the study of electroacoustic improvisation, including polished glass doors, the compact cassette and ancient Babylonian instruments?
It's like sitting opposite a huge, empty-space art work, with dazzling handmade audio. But also attempting to win - miraculously - against Brazil. All three of them, over and over and over again.
(Yoko Miura - photo by E_Rébus)
On the early evening of Friday October 18th, with Rébus, Jean Bordé, Yoko Miura and Doan Tri Minh we had tea in ceramist Marie Lautrou's Atelier PMPM ( * ) in the rue de la Forge Royale, Paris XI. Doan came with his laptop and paraphernalia, and Jean brought his double bass. I brought two small loudspeakers, along with my iPad, a dictaphone and two cassettes. Also Rébus, of course, had a dictaphone. But he also took along a few fine specimens from his collection of toy piano's and melodica's. For Yoko and Doan to play on.
Many of you will know our friend Yoko Miura, the equally kind and gifted Japanese piano player that every now and then is flying over from Tokyo to play in Europe, and who was with us in Paris, just to give you an example, in the Summer of 2008, in the period of our Cometian extravaganza's, like Diktat's Sturm der Liebe.
Fewer of you will also know Doan Tri Minh. He is a Vietnamese composer, musician, DJ and organizer, who recently spent some days in Paris for 'research and networking'.
(Doan Tri Minh - photo by E_Rébus)
We had tea, and then we played. And then we had some more tea. And we played some more. But what was the difference (give or take the tea) with the bulk of the concerts that we do here and there? The difference was, it was not a concert. Oh, not that there was no one and nothing there to listen, other than some microphones. Marie Lautrou, of course, was listening. It was, after all, her little beauty of a ceramics shop that we had come occupying. And - on his way to dinner elsewhere - Anthony Carcone dropped by and lend us his ears. So a realistic cynic (or a cynical realist) will observe that public attendance that Friday evening in the Atelier PMPM was not that far below our average... But that's beside the point.
What we did was not a concert.
Because it was not intended as such.
Intention makes a world of difference. In a public performance - also in the case of electroacoustic improvisation - musicians act and react (behave) differently. The socio-sonic network that they form is profoundly modified in a 'concert' situation. There is a lot of fascinating psychology involved that, if it has not been done already, I am sure someone sooner or later will pick up in academic research. ( ** )
It intrigues me that in many of the musical/artistic practices that I am involved in, the idea of 'the concert' to a large extent so clearly is based on a myth. It is an anachronism. It is a socio-musical convention that is being continued without questioning its (true) sense. I will have to come back to this at some later point in time. It is deeply related to the - paradoxical - label that presented itself as a name for the whatchamacallit that evening at Marie's and somewhat later that same night at La Générale; and, more generally, for this thing that we intend on extending to an ongoing practice. That thing was definitely not-a-concert. And it was not-a-rehearsal (we were not rehearsing for anything). It was too short and too focused to be called a workshop; but it was more than merely doing a bit of recording. I thought about jam session, but that expression has such a stale ring to it, does it not? As a recorded performance-sans-le-show, colorful and technology, the event in fact borrows a bit from them all. But none fits its particular size. I therefore began calling them unPublics. Recordings, made un-publicly in Paris and elsewhere, by 'ensembles' of variable geometry.
The (intended, blah, blah) 'paradox' is, that all recordings will be made available as high-quality digital downloads at Bandcamp's; which of course makes the unpublics many times more public than they would have been, had these been (just) - public - concerts.
So here then is to a hopefully long running series of non-concerts, that together will make for a fine collection of digital albums; each one a vertex in space-time, where musicians from wherever on the globe in passing met up in an ephemeral laboratory; strung together into an oeuvre-to-be, artistic and documentary, of many, many hours of potential sonic & musical research material. You can stream each of the albums online, or download the editions in hi-quality formats on a pay-as-you-like basis; all donations will be used to buy tea, food, wine, beer and ecological vodka for the participants of future unPublics. (We know that these are hard times. If you have but little money to spare, do not hesitate to download all your unPublics for free. If you like them or like the idea, you just spread the word :-)
(Jean Bordé - photo by E_Rébus)
After tea we continued the first unPublic at La Générale on the avenue Parmentier, where we set up in the storage room in the back, around two piano's: one for Doan, and one for Yoko.
(Bordé, Miura, Minh - photo by E_Rébus)
Here is a Bandcamp widget that allows you to stream these first unPublic recordings while you continue to read this SoundBlog entry.
We did the second unPublic almost a full month later, shortly before Yoko's return to Japan (after a short Finnish tour), in the living room of my Vincennes home, on Saturday November 16th .
We were six that afternoon: myself, Yoko, Anthony Carcone, Jean Bordé, Rébus and Marina Goussina.
A week earlier, on Sunday November 10th, with Rébus and Marina we had performed as a trio at the 10th edition of Cathy Heyden's Chantier(s) series, in the Espace en Cours, Paris XX. That concert took place under the sign of the 128 = 27-th birthday of Russian Cubo-Futurian Velimir Khlebnikov. It was the reason that, unpublicly, one week later not only in Marina's recitations there were more than just some faint echos of зáумь to be found.
But, like the month before, it all was ánd felt very different from doing a concert.
Because it wás not. A concert.
(Marina Goussina, Yoko Miura - photo by E_Rébus)
(photo by E_Rébus)
notes __ ::
(*) PMPM stands for: "par mes propres moyens", which in the given context probably is best translated by: "I do it all myself". [ ^ ]
(**) If this rings a bell, please do send me references! [ ^ ]
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