8 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 3 - November 2004

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PICHE: It's actually a

PICHE: It's actually a very old field, going back to Scriabil), whereby the colour organ would give you shades of blue in the high pitches, and shades of red in the low pitches, and so on. It's a very simplistic way of considering the relation between image and sound, but over the years, with the work of Stan Brakhage, Norman MacLaren, and James Whitney. etc., a lot of people have worked on the idea, developing that relati"n in a semi-scientific way, iu which they would say if the image of a square is small, it's a quiet sound, if the square is big, it's a_ loud sound. A lot of people have tried to work with those 1: 1 correspondences, same with Lissajoue figures. Lissajoue figures are what happen when you take an oscilloscope and you put one signal in the X-input and another one in the Y-input. You get figures that are directly proportional to the frequency and amplitude of both signals. It was a way of generating mandala types of images. Whitney has become known as the father of the form, and what it has given rise to in the sixties and seventies was a kind of psychedelic, very colourful mandala image moving to the related sound. That type of work has become visual music, and it has picked up again in the U.S. because of the opening up of the means of production. Theirs comes from a representation of sound by image, and vice-versa, but I think that's an unsatisfactory way to go about it. STEENHUISEN: So how do you negotiate that difficult balance between sound and image? PICHE: The music has to be able to live on its own. I should be able to take away the image, and listen to the sound and it would be fine as a piece. That's not true for film music. There, if you take out the image, the music loses its reason to be. It's important that the music have a certain complexity, that it can work independently, but when the image is present, you get the immediate impression that one cannot be without the other. The video will be worthwhile on its own too, but the work will assume its complete sense when the two are together. STEENHUISEN: How did your work as an electroacoustic composer evolve i1110 working with video? 31l PICHE: I did a few film scores, and also worked with video artists; but I think the evolution was rooted in a profound dissatisfaction with the public space of . electroacoustic music. It wasn't enough for my personal enjoyment of the music to go to a concert and just look at speakers, to listen to sounds in the dark ... . At the same time, I don't want to short-change the decision to go into visuals as a kind of ersatz for lack of visual support in the concert stream. But it was a consideration. The other reason is that in the late 70s and early 80's I did some collaborative IT WASN ' T ENOUGH FOR MY PERSONAL ENJOYMENT OF THE MUSIC TO GO TO A CON­ CERT AND JUST LOOK AT SPEAKERS, TO LISTEN TO SOUNDS IN THE DARK . . • . work with a San Francisco video artist who had worked at the Art Institute of Chicago with Dan Sandin, who was one of the first people to build a modular analogue video processor. We had a Sandin Image Processor and while we were working on the piece, I plugged the output of the music into the image processing unit. Whispers in the plane of light had the control signals of the audio synthesizer control the switches on the output of the image processor. At that point I realized that video and electronic music are one-and-the-same, in a very elementary sense, because the compositional paradigm is the same. It's only with narrative that this type of connection falls apart. Images tell a story, but sounds (at least musical sounds) don't. What I'm aiming for is to accommodate the problem of narrative so that the form can develop a discourse where image and sounds are more than a direct commentary of one by the other. It's a thorny problem and I am trying to push the issue in every successive work. STEENHUIS EN: But it :S also interesting to try to describe 1he type of process you're involved in. PICHE: Yes, it is, and the most satisfactory description for me is through process. Music analysis is really process analysis. You do this that way, and you get that. The best way to explain the work I'm doing is by explaining how I am doing it, and the processes, in a streamlined way. I collect data, I treat the data, and I reorganize the data, and get an art piece at the end. Like with electroacoustic music, you work from the material up. One thing suggests another, and you pull out from there. STEENHUISEN: With the realization that the description is not the whole thing. WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM PICHE: Yes, of course. As I said the problem I am currently struggling with is the one of narrative, and how to .deal with that. You can't do without it, and at the same time after looking at the work you're left with the impression that this is not what you've seen or heard. It goes beyond narrative, and is more all-encompassing, or, depending on the point of view, it doesn't reach narrative. STEENHUISEN: ls your work with video a response to the problems of "Cinema for the ear?" PICHE: My discomfort with electroacoustic music, since its inception, has been the problem of performance. No matter how many loudspeakers you put into a room, there is something that is not engaging ... There is a bit of a fallacy In a performance of that kind, because the music is composed in the studio, and 96 speakers in public performance don't render the correct signal. It has been considered heretical for an electroacoustic composer to say this too loudly, but every composer has felt it and felt a need to address it. To me, the legitimate output of electroacoustic music is the CD, which you listen to at home. There are other solutions to performance, such as mixed music and live electronics (though these have their own problems). No matter how it is done, it will never be like a cellist sitting in front of an audience, and knowing that the sound is coming from the pressure she or he is applying to the bow at that moment. Electroacoustic music is abstracted by its very nature. Video music restores the visual link I find essential to public presentation. However, that's not the primary reason I BEYOND the ConcertHal I' · by Jonathan Bunce "New music" is a term which has many different meanings to many different people. To classical and post-classical connoisseurs in Toronto, it usually refers to the amazing presentations around town by the likes of New Music Concerts, Arraymusic, Esprit Orchestra, ERGO Projects, Earshot! Concerts, The Music Gallery, and many others. To others, "new music" may make them think of the playlist on Edge 102. But for adventurous listeners looking for a new sonic frontier beyond new music as we know it, thankfully there are alternatives to turgid "alternative" rock (and by that I mean Nickelback). Allow me to dis-cover. for you a few of the hidden new music spaces in the 416, lurking just beyond the chamber orchestra, the concert hall, the subscription series ... The free improvisation scene in Toronto isn't quite as hectic as it was during the heyday of the Ulterior series at the Victory back in '98, but there are still several places and spaces where you can catch the post-jazz sound tinkerers 9f the T-dot in action. Over at a familiar new music location, the Arraymusic studio, the Leftover Daylight series runs every other Friday evening at 9pm. Curated by drummer Joe Sorbara and saxman Ken Aldcroft, each LD consists of three sets: the first features a hand-picked group of musicians from the improv community, the second is an established ensemble, while the third set i the "wildcard" set. Improvisers recently seen at play include John Oswald, Rob Clutton, Gordon Allen, cheryl o and Ryan Driver. Coming up on Nov 12, you can catch Nick Fraser with Sorbara, a set by alto sax player Brodie West (who turned heads with his recent collab' with Dutch maniac drummer Han Bennink), and piano/electronics artist John Kameel Farah playing the wildcard. More info at www leftoverdaylight.htm This is where the connections tnoved into visuals. I did it because the combinatioq of ab­ start to spread out like a self-replicating virus. Joe Sorbara's Pickle stracted image and sound make a fertile ground where an entirely Juice Orchestra have been known new poetry can grow. to perform John Cobra's game • CONTINUES NOVEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 7 2004

A T I T • G • 0 R Q • T N I M A R T Y R drums with men FEATURING FRITZ HAUSER (SWITZERLAND), BOB BECKER+ RUSS HARTENBERG (NEXUS T.O.) tue 11/09@ 8PM, // THE COMPOSER NOW: COLLABORATIONS Switzerland collides with Toronto. in an exciting all-percussion evening for three men: Swiss solo drumming threat Fritz Hauser, with NEXUS Percussion and Steve Reich Ensemble members Bob Becker and Russ Hartenberger. The first half of the evening will consist of a onehour snare solo piece composed and performed by Hauser, entitled Drum With Man, making its North American premiere. Following the intermission, the three percussionists will undertake a three-man improv. The Music Gallery is pleased to host Fritz Hauser at this one-of-a-kind international percussion summit. Born 1953 in Basel, Switzerland, Hauser has developed his sound language in the most varied ways. In solo concerts, in different small and large groups, in multi-media projects, and with numerous recordings, he has contributed to the development of the drumset from a mere timekeeper to an instrument. Hauser has commissioned and performed works from such esteemed composers as John Cage and Pauline Oliveros. music gallery concert schedule: core programming nov. 2004 fri-sat 11/05+06 autumn passing (ergo projects goes lithuanian) THE COMPOSER NOW: COLLABORATIONS SERIES @ 8PM, /$10 FRI, / SAT Week-long cu.Jtural exchange featuring contemporary music by Lithuanian and Canadian composers, including two concerts (solo + small chamber works Friday, large chamber works Saturday), a masterclass, panel discussion, lectures, and ope1i ERGO rehearsals. For complete schedule of events, see of wholenote at the music gallery! 11/01 voices joined NINE MONDAYS SALON SERIES, HOSTED BY WHOLENOTE MAGAZINE, PRESENTS CHORAL MUSIC CURATED BY LARRY BECKWITH. FEATURING THE TORONTO CHAMBER CHOIR. 8PM, /. music gallery: more in november 11/21 generation 2004 IN COLLABORATION WITH NEW MUSIC CONCERTS - L'ENSEMBLE CONTEMPORAIN DE MONTREAL WITH VERONIQUE LACROIX PRESENTS WORK BY YOUNG COMPOSERS fri 11/12 devendra banhart (nyc) with six organs of admittance POP AVANT SERIES @ 9PM, DOOR ONLY, LIMITED CAPACITY IN COLLABORATION WITH BRAVE NEW WAVES ON CBC RADIO TWO New folk underground icon and Young God Records artist makes his second visit to Toronto, first post-hype. Opened by California's pastoral psych-rock visionary Six Organs of Admittance. 11/25 city night CD release: janice jackson + simon docking NEW MUSIC SOPRANO + PIANO -- NEW DISC OF "HAIKU FOR THE 21ST CENTURY" sun 10/14 erosonic (david mott + joseph petric) FRESH EARS FAMILY SERIES@ 3PM, /PERSON Acclaimed collaboration between Toronto jazz/new music figures. baritone saxman Mott and accordion master Petric. econd of our affordable Sunday afternoon family concerts. music gallery: co-ordinates location: ' st. george the martyr box office: 416-204-1080 church, 197 john st. web: SOCAN Foundation The J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation t St. George the Martyr -A--··· torontdartsboun ci I r"""'.._.:\-...·o: lfli':J:IC.C( >'(OJ:(••UMI"' .. I . I Ca adian Heritage Patrimoine cenadlen ... Canada Council Conseil des Arts for the Arts du Canada NOVEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 7 2004 WWW. THEWHOlENOTE.COM 31

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