Tag Archives: The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Evan Parker. This is the final interview from this series.

**

Interview with Evan Parker

Known for his fluid development of multiphonic aggregates to produce a constantly changing patterning, Evan Parker has evolved an instantly recognizable sound. Despite the flux of the music’s surface, he talks of his recent exploration of limited interval types to underpin his improvisations, emphasizing the reduced nature of his approach. Here practise and memorization are important, allowing the development of sequence-building methods which inform subsequent performances. The impact of group work is also of note: specific developments in his technique arose from the necessity of responding to the musicians around him, leading to the possibility of working as a soloist. Recently, his exploratory work with different groupings of musicians, taking on ‘the specifics of time and space’, has allowed the further development of the research ethos that lies at the heart of improvisation. Finding new things in new or old situations is central to experimentation. There are moments which leave an indelible mark on your memory, and hearing Parker perform live for the first time was, for me, one of these. At the beginning of a workshop in Huddersfield whilst I was a student, he talked a little about what he did, and then played for five minutes: I was completely unprepared for the complexity of the sound, and the shape of the resultant performance, and it has stayed with me since then.

**

The interview was conducted by email between 24 February 2007 – 4 August 2008

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicRead the full interview here.

All the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Bernhard Günter.

**

Interview with Bernhard Günter:

Meticulous placement and balancing of sound is readily apparent in Bernhard Günter’s work, whether electro-acoustically composed or, more recently, improvised. Whilst he points out its wide dynamic range, it is essentially a quiet music, one which seeks to draw us in as listeners. The body of work for which he is perhaps best known – the series of recordings beginning with his 1993 release Un peu de neige salie – explores a reduced palette of glitch sounds, working with highly detailed textures which have an innate complexity. Günter’s approach foregrounds aspects of sounds that otherwise go unnoticed, whether due to existing on the border of sound and silence, or their perceived ancillary status as musical material. Whilst he is at pains to point out that he does not consider his music experimental, given it is ostensibly result rather than process oriented, this particular concern has much in common with other practitioners in the field. His processing of sampled sounds strips them of their more conventional meanings, allowing him to work more closely with them as abstract sonic materials. His recent improvisation projects have continued to explore this reduced soundworld, working first with Mark Wastell and Graham Halliwell as +minus, and later with Gary Smith as Klangstaub. Here too a slow, breath-paced layering of gradually changing drones allows the material’s detail to emerge over time.

**

The interview was conducted by email between 2 January – 10 February 2004, with the postscript being added in August 2008.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicRead the full interview here.

All the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

This week, James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Manfred Werder.

**

Interview with Manfred Werder:

I came across Manfred Werder’s music for the first time in 2000, following up encouraging comments made by others about his work and that of the Edition Wandelweiser composers with whom he is associated, eventually meeting him whilst he was on a residency in London later that year. These composers, centered around Antoine Beuger’s publishing company, create an uncompromising music: it deals with extremes and archetypes, is generally very quiet and silence has a large share of the often extended performance durations. The presentation of sound material is very clear: gridded structures and the establishment of spaces in which sounds might be placed are common traits. Werder’s music comprises a number of different ongoing series. His ausführende writing project (1999?) is a set of compositions for between one and nine performers. Each of these pieces contains a series of 160,000 time units, each lasting 12 seconds and consisting of six seconds of sound, followed by six seconds of silence. The scores are performed in succession, with the next performance starting at the action following the final one of the previous instalment. In his recent dated pieces however, Werder specifies a gradually reducing number of conditions for the presentation of sounds and actions, from the trio stück 2003’s instruction for two of the performers to play a common pitch lasting three to seven seconds once during the performance, to the more open requirement of 2005/1: place/ time// ( sounds ). The precision and subtlety of his exploration of modes of performative action can be seen when comparing this with the later 2006/2, which specifies: places// a time/// ( sounds ). Werder’s music questions our place in the world as both participants and observers.

The interview was conducted by email between 1st-10th February 2004.

**

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicRead the full interview here.

All the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

This week, James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Christopher Fox.

**

Interview with Christopher Fox

The draw of the experimental music canon for Christopher Fox as a young composer was its opening up of possibilities denied by various intransigent musical orthodoxies which surrounded him. Whilst at first listen the soundworlds of his subsequent compositions are somewhat disparate, in much of his music this is as a result of the collision of opposites: clarity and complexity, consonance and dissonance, rhythm and stasis, indeterminacy and fixation. It is this that binds his work at a deeper level alongside a sustained exploration of process in many guises, a strategy which underpins much experimental music. Indeed, there has been a marked shift in his recent work towards structural mobility and other indeterminate approaches to realizing material in particular, making this more explicit. His large-scale Everything You Need To Know (1999-2001) for up to ten players and voice(s) comprises 26 separately realizable compositions and can last from 5-85 minutes in performance. Whilst such modularity draws comparisons with the inauguration of modern experimentalism almost half a century earlier, Fox says these pieces offer order rather than anarchy, and it is perhaps that which sets them apart. I first became aware of his music in the early 1990s and was drawn to the sudden cuts between either subtly or extremely differentiated materials. The objectivity of this work was striking through its presentation of material in such a clear manner. Later, as my doctoral supervisor, the discussions we had helped shape my ideas on open form pieces at a time when we were both producing modular work, albeit in entirely different ways.

The interview was conducted by email from 5 November 2004 – 7 November 2005.

**

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicRead the full interview here

All the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

This week, James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Phil Niblock.

**

Interview with Phil Niblock:

Phill Niblock has been developing his layered drone pieces for nearly forty years, working with multi-tracked sampled recordings of solo instruments that combine to produce a vibrant beating of fractionally detuned difference and sum tones. Heard live, the physical impact of his work is powerful: the chaotic richness found within the wall of sound he presents takes time to emerge, but once attuned to reveals an interweaving of dense oscillating counterpoint. The scale of his pieces is important too in this regard: most average around 20 minutes, a duration which is essential for this attuning process. I first heard Niblock’s live performance in Ostrava in 2001. He was midway through his annual European concert tour and spent a morning playing five pieces accompanied by his films of people working. Although I had heard some of his music on CD previously, this had not prepared me for its live performance. As with my early encounters with the work of many of the people interviewed here, it was an experience which changed how I thought about music.

The interview was conducted by telephone on 11 May 2007.

Read the full interview here.

**

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicAll the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

This week, James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Rhodri Davies.

**

Interview with Rhodri Davies:

The work of the group of the younger generation of improvisers subsequently labelled New London Silence has been important to my own development as a composer. Their interest in quiet, carefully placed sounds came at a time when I was beginning to engage with similar material in my own notated work, and this was reinforced by knowing Rhodri Davies from his time as a postgraduate in Huddersfield in the mid-1990s. His interest in improvisation developed from around then – I was at his first improvised performance – and grew into a music which has been extremely influential over the past decade. His response to the prevailing conditions was to do the opposite, initially looking to small gestures and silence as a way of reassessing conventions, but more recently exploring a wider palette of sounds, expanding the scope of his instrumental preparations. He describes this as a gradual process, one which developed organically: it is mirrored by his approach to group work, where his strategy is to challenge himself to work against the grain. This is not to say he is deliberately reactionary: these trajectories are creatively necessary to stimulate change. Davies also works regularly with notated music, and has commissioned much new work for the harp. He draws a clear line between his work as an improviser and his expectation of notated music written for him however. The music’s identity must not be reliant on a mining of his resources as an improviser, a view echoed by other practitioners concerned about the appropriation of their work by composers.

The interview was conducted by telephone on 9 October 2007

**

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicRead the full interview here.

All the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

This week, James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Alvin Lucier.

**

Interview with Alvin Lucier:

I initially met Alvin Lucier in Ostrava at the first New Music Days, organized by Peter Kotik. His work had fascinated me for some time, so it was a great opportunity to find out more in person. Lucier has been central to developments in experimental electronic music since the 1960s, with a focus on acoustic phenomena as the material and subject matter for much of his earlier work. From pieces like I am sitting in a room (1969) in which the continual playback and recording of a text in the same space reinforces the room’s overtones to create a throbbing harmonic drone, to Still Lives (2003), which sets piano notes against slow sliding sine tones to create variable beating patterns, their audibility is framed by his compositional approach. Subsequent work has tended to draw on these techniques and instrumentalize them to various degrees, such as with Diamonds (1999) for three orchestras where the violins replace the sine waves. Whilst in Lucier’s work processes are articulated with extreme clarity, it is music which constantly confounds expectations. It is of course possible to read his scores and gain an understanding of the principles involved, but it is only through the acoustic reality of the sounding result that the music emerges. One of the questions posed by the work of all the interviewees here is a consideration of how we listen, and this is in many ways most clearly exemplified by Lucier.

The interview took place at Dartington College of Arts on 14 November 2007.

Read the full interview here.

**

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicAll the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.