better more new trains

february 04, 2003.

A new train track up on the Better More Trains station: "re990501", by Yusuke Tabira from Fukuoka, Kyushu - Japan, whose sound works are based on the mingling of short looped field recordings.
By the way, about trains ...: this is what Pierre Schaeffer wrote in 1948, when he decided to compose a train track, and went out to record the sounds of trains ... (... direct-to-disc ..., but not a hard one ... !) ... :

mai 3 [1948]. "So here I am, on my way to the Batignolles railway station, accompanied by a sound car and naively nurturing that false great idea of mine.
There are six locomotives in the depot, we surprised them at home. I asked their drivers to improvise. That one of them begins, and the others answer. Sure, each of the machines has its own voice. One's hoarse, the other husky; one deep and dark, the other shrill. Passionately I record the dialogue of these gentle whales. Behind their music stands, the Batignolles drivers keep their eyes on me, but soon they weary. It is pretty clear that a locomotive doesn't like to play the artist. Anyway, now, far from the heat and charm of the moment, and pretty much cooled down again, what I hear back from my recordings is a conversation without breath, poor and without rhythm!
I would have wanted to catch precise variations: the noise of the machine slipping on a slope, the fast puffings mingling with their echoes, the impact of the buffers and their subtle embroidery, the beat of the hammer, the hammer with the long handle that one uses to auscultate the bogies ...
I'm a bit disappointed: there's no slipping on a slope, only a fresh puffing solo. A minuscule buffer sound without pungency, with neither sixteenths nor grupetto. Luckily our record collection contains a whole range of sounds of carriages rolling along rails."

[ transl. from Pierre Schaeffer's A la recherche d'une musique concrète, p. 19]

There's also another edition of Better More Radio. As of this month without star ...

[ next related entry: better no more trains; related earlier entries: better more trains, In the beginning ]

the cracklings

january 25, 2003.

In his 1971 essay 'Ecrivains, intellectuels, professeurs' (Writers, intellectuals, teachers), Roland Barthes distinguishes two types of criticism. "The first," he says (I cite Stephen Heath's English translation), "dismisses all meaning of the support text [...] It is not simply that the ear of this first criticism hears the cracklings of the phono pick-up but rather that it desires to hear only them, making them into a new music. In the second type of criticism nothing is rejected [...]; it perceives both the meaning (the meanings) and its cracklings. [...] The first has in its favour the right of the signified to spread out where it will (where it can?): what law, and what meaning, and with what basis, would restrain it? [..] Like any radical right, this one supposes an utopian vision of freedom [...]"

Barthes then argues for the 'historical correctness' of the second type, and more or less dismisses the first as 'defying any dialectic', hence: 'petit bourgeois'.

I thought that to be pretty hilarious, actually ...

[ Roland Barthes, Image, Music, Text (essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath ]

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