3 Pieces for Single Objects (21:33)
recorded September 2004 at Railyard 1, Santa Fe
Dish, Tank, Sheet
Played by: Alex Ferris
After listening to Bathtub Music over the summer, I had a craving for noise. For these pieces, I again experimented with mic placements (this time close) and limited myself to single objects to see what range of sounds I could get from them.
To me these were more interesting to make than they are to listen to. When I hear them, I am reminded of the limitations of over-rationalization. What I mean by that is that, having set an arbitrary conceptual ceiling for what they would be before making them, I prevented myself from responding to what they taught me, as if their function was to fit the description I’d started from (kind of like the ‘climate science’ funded by the oil industry, or the examinations of evolution undertaken by xtians). In this they remind me of a lot of the ‘avant-garde’ art of the 60’s and 70’s, or the sort of work generated by art students (whose professors were artists in the 60’s and 70’s).
There’s something humorous about an idea that won’t ‘change its mind’. I’ve always thought it was funny (and illustrative of the nature of capitalism) that Columbus (whose goal was to make money) stopped short of ‘discovering’ the continents a few more days of sailing beyond the islands that provided him with articles of trade. It wasn’t until his fourth voyage that he reached what is now Venezuela.
The rationalized dichotomy that separates ‘music’ from ‘noise’ only exists for me as an idea, it doesn’t correspond to anything I genuinely feel about sound. Like all dichotomies, it is basically facile and shallow. What was challenging to conventional thinking at the times of Russollo, Varese, Henri and Schaeffer, Luenning and Ussachevsky, Cage, Penderecki, Albert Ayler, Jimi Hendrix, Buchla, and Crash Worship is inert history in the 21st century –there is almost no one alive today who hasn’t heard “noise” and received it as “music” without questioning it.
I’m not a ‘mainstream’ musician by any stretch of the imagination and no one has less interest in preserving the musical status quo than I do, but I don’t have undying devotion to avante-gardism either. When it’s curious, investigative, and engaged in deconstructing and/or reconstructing the epistemological assumptions that underlie our art and communication, I’m all for it. On the other hand, when it contents itself with making (essentially narcissistic) proclamations of its ‘otherness’, I have a hard time maintaining my interest in and sympathy for it. When it generates or inhabits dogma, it’s just another status quo to me and I’m not that much less uncomfortable within its closed universe than I’d be in any closed universe.
In retrospect, I believe my preconceived goal of making “noise” prevented me from developing the inherent musical possibilities of these pieces.