Thursday, June 22, 2006


Cheers * Hey*************! Art Bears are very interesting by the way; related to Henry Cow. Fred Frith is an interest of mine. His 'Crossing the Border' DVD is astounding; it just inspires. Anyway... Not fully sure what you mean by constant rhythm throughout. For the Wolverton gig it might be an idea not to be too ambient, but, generally, I like those moments/passages very much in our playing, and would want to retain them. Of course, you being a drummer, one would assume rhythm is your thing. This is what I wanted to open up with you. I'm fully ok with idea of you playing drums, really getting into that side of it. There are as many possibilities attached to that as there are with laptops, electronics, etc. It's all just sound after all. I think, though, that the drums would have to be used both as is and in other, more elaborate ways, extending their role by triggering things, radically altering the sounds, playing - say - basslines, sequences, guitar sounds, electronics, etc. by drumming. That Roland Pad thingy does this very well; and there's that idea about contact mics. With improv - unless it's Jazz - for me, it's not interesting to hear one type of sound throughout. I'm not into hearing my own bassplaying for 45 mins/an hour. Years ago, when I was a much better bassplayer than I am now - because I practiced all the time - I did used to just play bass. If one does commit to one instrument, though, one has to get into that virtuoso thing. It just becomes centrally important to get really great on one's instrument. Personally, I'm more interested today in sound itself. Playing, as it were, is secondary. The Art Bears thing made me think of pretty obvious things, really. I like the idea of thinking before one creates, erecting limitations, etc. Rhythm suggests short durational episodes - a flam, a crash, etc. But electronics offer the opportunity for rethinking this, or at least adding to it. One time, a china cymbal or a sizzle, or a snare roll, was all a drummer could use to add sustain. Now you can create a drone of 25 mins, by hitting a pad; you can change it's pitch, send it backwards by hitting another. Perhaps think of vocal rhythms - da dadada da da dada dada da dadadadada da da da dadadadada da da dada (!), or introduce Fibonacci numbers, creating figures based upon that structure. Augment the drums and cymbals with other objects; alter the drums and cymbals - ie. long resonating springs on a cymbal, like a snare-cymbal hybrid, pick that up with a deftly-placed contact mic. Do the old bowing cymbals thing. Get an old spring reverb, hit that. Makes a great noise. Our hamster cages make great noises, too, when one hits them! The bars can be played like guitar strings, too! You do this brilliantly with the washboard, I think. It makes an inexplicable sound: it sounds electronic, but the brain/ear detects an acoustic quality. That's an interesting area for you - as an essentially electro-acoustic musician - to operate within. It's very exciting! If I was a drummer I would think in terms of it as foley - you know that old-fashioned film sound effects thing. See you at 7pm. Anthony


Blogger St Anthony said...

I remember the Art Bears - Fred Frith, good man.
I haven't seen that 'Crossing the Border' film, but am interested. The guy dancing in it, (on TV, I think) is a hero of mine, Ted Milton.
Not sure what relationship he has to Mr Frith, other than they are both great English eccentrics.

Friday, June 23, 2006 3:15:00 pm  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

I thoroughly recommend the Frith film; he exudes creativity, he doesn't keep still, and can make music and sound from anything. The tradition of the English eccentric is a wonderful thing: Syd Barrett, Derek Baily, Robert Wyatt ... et al. Do you know Patrick Keiller's films, 'London' and 'Robinson in Space'? I feel you must do.

Friday, June 23, 2006 5:57:00 pm  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, I loved those films - he's an interesting character, Keiller. Always reminds me of early Greenaway, the mad documentarist thing - the way the BBC presenter-type voice sound impartial but is really deeply eccentric and off-kilter.

Saturday, June 24, 2006 10:26:00 am  
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