april 17-25, 2006.
The four 'live events' that took place over the past 2+ weeks left me with some eight hours of recordings to listen to, evaluate and choose from (ten, if one includes the curious monophonic cassette recording - at half speed on an old yellow cassette that I got from the flea market, with on one side marked in black : '1983', and on the other side : '1984' - of Cosmodrone's saturday april 1st rehearsal at Mains d'Oeuvres, for our 'first tuesday of april' Hors d'Oeuvres concert there, that eventually got postponed until the first tuesday of may) ... recordings for ... well, whatever their purpose and destin(y)(ies), it's an awful lot of material to go through ... and I've only just begun to do so in a more or less systematic way. First because I often - but not always - (seem to) need/prefer some time-space between a performance and listening to its recorded reflection, and - this time around - second because of the continuing 'pile up' of recordings that went with the quick succession of events ....
I listened to parts of the MD recording of our first Sons à Domicile (SADO) event, though, which took place on the evening of wednesday april 5th. Unfortunately I appear to have used a wrong microphone, which resulted in the whole hour long recording being embedded in a pretty dense hissy fog ... But, on the other hand, Erik Saliege, one of the SADO-visitors, recorded (parts ?) of the evening on his cameo scope, including the sound, which, judging from the short sample he sent me is much better ...
We plan to make "SADO" into a regular - monthly (?) - event. The idea is
to have a peripatetic
(*) series of low volume
home concerts in the parisian area, moving from salon
to salon, providing a 'space' for those active in the fields of
sonic 'improvisation and experimentation' that are willing to contribute.
This first evening in the series took place in my living room, within and around the old Förster piano there, whose inside for the occasion got filled up by Rébus with an impressive collection of sound toys. We were six to play: Mark Webster, FlexRex, Cosmo Helectra, Rébus, me, and Rinus van Alebeek. What precisely would happen that evening had been left more or less open; most of us I guess had presumed that it would turn out to consist in some five or six short solo- or duo sets. But then, eventually, we did embark upon an hour long, dense and meandering six piece improvisation. The kick off was by Rébus, who started a cascade of toy baby music boxes playing the tune of the Twinkle twinkle little star nursery rhyme... or, if you're Dutch, you'd rather call it Altijd is Kortjakje ziek ... and for you, frenchies : it's Ah! Vous dirais-je, Maman ... It is one of those 'eternal' tunes, the true origin of which has become difficult to trace. It is a fact, though, that this is not originally a Mozart melody. But Wolfgang did use it as a theme, and made (at least, I guess) 12 variations (KV 265) ... [The english wikipedia entry on this nursery rhyme mentions the french melody (of Ah! Vous dirais-je, Maman), the dutch entry (about Altijd is Kortjakje ziek) suggests - but not states - an early 18th century dutch original ... there is no french wikipedia entry on Ah! Vous dirais-je, Maman] ...
Ah! Vous dirais-je, Maman made a short comeback at the end of the hour long impro, allowing to close something of a circular promenade. And in between these classical extremes ? ... well, there was a lot of sound ... probably nothing that will eventually get into children's toys and then sound a multi-million times in the rose-sweet twilights of a multi-million nurseries (**) ... but it was a fun adventure nevertheless, with Cosmo Helectra on modular mixing desks, FlexRex manipulating the sounds emanating from an old Topaz record player that he found in the street (btw, you may listen to three of FlexRex's 'Teppaz' experiments in the current edition of Raudio - Raudio #07.5, 'seven point five') , Rébus using toys inside the piano, me occasionally playing the piano's keys, and roaming around the piezo contact microphone that I had glued on the bottom of the instrument's treble side, and the signal of which was fed into Mark Webster's laptop for further treatment. And finally, there was Rinus van Alebeek, who played his dictaphone based equipment ...
Rinus had joined us, by train from Nantes, shortly before the start of the concert, Paris being the next on the long list of places in Italy, Spain, France that he has been performing recently (*****) ... He stayed a couple of days (I sort of stacked him underneath the piano in our living room ... ...) We used the opportunity for two 'recording sessions' on thursday - the first was an improvised 'dictaphone duet', the second a tête-à-tête with the piano.
We did a second concert, on friday april 7th, at Project 101, Paris IX. For that friday's occasion (thanks to P.101's Dinahbird for making this possible on relatively short notice ...) I had invited double bass player Jean Bordé to meet three 'dictaphonists' (Rinus van Alebeek, Emmanuel Rébus and myself), in what I think we should call the Diktat quartet ... (***)
As for SADO, until the very last minute what precisely would happen that evening, was left open. But this was the 'image' for the evening, as it appeared on the flyer we sent out here and there ... : "____ dans l'ombre de la cave : ___ une contrebasse et un contrebassiste, entouré par trois dictaphonistes, une foule de dictaphones et des installations à partir de dictaphones ___ parfois ils joueront tout seul ___ parfois ils se disputeront ___ parfois ils joueront tous ensemble ____"
'Diktat' eventually improvised, as a quartet - and as in 'improvisation'.
With one instrumentalist, and three manipulators of dictaphones. This has
been something I had longed to try for quite a while, and it worked out
even better than I had imagined it would.
Its sonority, the extent of its 'possible soundings', in combination with Jean's fine skills and sonic/musical imagination, made the double bass a great partner. I think that, and not for me alone, this evening's performance counts as a memorable one. Musical, but also theatrical ... Many of the 'lo-fi' field recordings (the 'phonographs') that were used have intrinsic theatrical (filmic) qualities. They are (fragments of) narratives, projections (shadows ?) of 'scenes', that were ... somewhere, sometime ... and in performance and/or recording somehow get re-enacted, be it in completely different, and varying, contexts. (This holds for the used recordings in general, but even more so for the fragments of recordings of spoken (or shouted) texts that the three dictaphonists used; as the words unavoidably come with (some) meaning ...)
'Diktat' played two sets: one lasting precisely one hour, the second one thirty minutes. Sure hope that more will follow in the near future...
I met Rinus again precisely one week later, in his native town Heerlen, in the south of the Netherlands (only some twenty kilometers from Maastricht, where - in the very same december month - I was born). In Heerlen we did a di-dictaphonic performance in cultureel centrum de Nor, on the evening of this year's Good Friday, april 14th, lasting altogether some eighty minutes. Another highly interesting experience. I guess you can imagine how difficult it is to keep a grip on the sheer avalanches of layered sounds resulting from the (at times) simultaneous playback of distinct lo-fi cassette field recordings over up to eight or nine dictaphones ... Most of the time - though, admittedly, not all of the time - we did manage to keep this grip, necessary in order to steer a such multiphony ...
During our di-dictaphony performance in de Nor at several points I used
the sudoku-solution 'approach', that I had experimented with the
days before the concert ...
It has nothing to do, really, with Sudoku
as a game. I just happened to have the drawing of a solved Sudoku
puzzle lying on my desk, when I was flipping back and forth the 'reverse'
knob on my SONY TCM 500DV. The instant switching from one to the other side
of the tape and back again, makes it possible to 'play around' a specific
sound byte, or a specific bit of spoken word. The sounding result depending
of course on the bits of recorded sound on the same stretch of a tape's
A- and B-side, this is a nice 'medium/player-specific technique' one may
apply when using cassette tapes. A 'medium/player-specific technique', like
the 'shrieky/scratching' and other sounds/effects one gets by manipulating
the 'fast forward' and 'rewind' controls during playback; maybe somewhat
less 'imposing', though, and more flexible. And of course only applicable
with machines that have this reverse function ...
With this 'back-and-forth' playing, a couple of 'natural' ways of control impose themselves : a rhytmic switching, which may temporarily introduce some sort of a 'switch-beat'; a semantic switching, where the switch back/forth is determined by the content/rhythm of the respective sound bytes on the two sides of the tapes. I found it difficult to apply a 'random switching' while I was actually listening, and in fact this is where the 'sudoku-solution' comes in: I just grabbed the sudoku-drawing that was lying on my table, and used the numbers on the grid as consecutive durations, by interpreting them as 'number of beats' in a given tempo ... this results in a strict 'serial switching', indeed: the sudoku gives you nine permutations of 1-9 ; without repetitions ... and I liked the results; also found it fun to apply. Interesting also that - depending on the specific sudoku-solution - thus playing tape-fragments may result in a certain 'natural drift' along the tape (a given solution may have more 'long durations' in the 'forward mode' than in the 'reverse mode', or vice versa) ...
So, there you go ... those that were there in de Nor got a première : snippets of 'strict' serial (ennea-)dictaphony :-) ... those that were not : two brand new 'sudoku solution' tracks (respectively entitled "hé Frodo, waar is je ring gebleven !?", and "quoi, quoi, quoi, quoi ... !") are part of the current edition of Raudio - Raudio #O7.5, 'seven point five') ...
Precisely two weeks after the SADO event in Vincennes, we met up with Rinus for a fourth time ... In Amsterdam this time, where, together with fpcm we did a secret concert in the café of Theater de Balie, in the early evening of wednesday april 19th. This, arguably, became the most curious part of our tetralogy ... We got preliminary permission to install our dictaphones on a table in de Balie's bar at about half one wednesday afternoon, were more or less sure that it was okay around three; then sent out some emails and sms-messages to notify people here and there of the event. We started setting up on de Balie's 'oval table' as of 18h40. The secret performance started at precisely 19h ... and by 19h30 it was all over again ...
... and the beat goes on ...
[ next related SB entry: Fifty/Fifty ]
notes __ ::
(*) Though 'peripatetic' is not too uncommon as an english adjective, my using its french '+/- equivalent' péripatétique on the french sado-flyer did result in a number enquiries and remarks by our francophone viewers ... 'Peripatetic' does translate as péripatétique, though ... but, granted, my french-english dictionary does add: (philos.), indicating that it is a philosophical term, and proposes 'itinérant' as an alternative. So apparently péripatétique is not a word that french speakers use weekly ... (the related péripatéticienne, though, is a common french word. It's a synonym for 'streetwalker'.) Anyway. I still think it is an appropriate adjective for the SADO-series. And it sort of hints, in one and the same 'hit', to the peripatetic axiom as a SADO-motto: Nihil est in intellectu quod non prius in sensu, or in translation: "Nothing is in the intellect that was not first in the senses" ... (Personally I also enjoy a lot the homophonic misspellings: 'peri-pathetic' - péri-pathétique - ... both but a soundless h - an h-muet - away ... Just a reminder, say ...) [ ^ ]
(**) I have to admit, though, that while writing these lines the thought did cross my mind that somehow such might be nothing short of a possible and indeed honorable ambition ... for times to come, say ... It also made me think of the fait divers that I read in the april 13th edition of the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool: the police, it said, had confiscated a saxophone. A man, of british nationality and aged 43, had been playing it a lot (not for busking, merely to practice) in the hall of the Leiden train station, and there had been, the story said, a lot of complaints about the false notes and other sounds that he produced. As police spokesman Chris van Egmond explained: "[..] deze man had een historie als het gaat om het voortbrengen van muziekklanken die niet iedereen op prijs stelt ..." (Kamilla Leupen - "Gek van alle valse tonen" (Aldus, Parool - 13 april 2006, pag.4) ___ ) [ ^ ]
(*****) Among the noteworthy things Rinus did on this trip, let me mention the official release of his 'Fish' cassette, which he threw overboard, on march 15th at 9h30 am, from the Ferryboat 'Eurostar Roma', that took him from Civitavecchia to Barcelona. "I estimate that it must be floating somehow exactly between the coasts of Sardegna and Spain, and heading for Sardegna. The wind was very strong," he wrote in a message describing the release ... [ ^ ]
(***) I had taken the habit of referring to the event as our soirée dictée, but I now actually do prefer 'Diktat', as Rébus insisted on calling it. This, of course, is the german word for dictée (dictation), but it also means - both in german and french : 'imposed treaty' ... it's an interesting description of the 'quartet' set up at the Project 101 ... [ ^ ]
(****) To subscribe to the Raudio Podcasts, get the feed's URI by clicking the green podcast button in the sidebar. Alternatively, you may preview the podcast feed, or simply download the mp3-file (7.3 Mb) ... [ ^ ]