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Whaddya call it? and Attention

Hi. I've really enjoyed scanning the discussion about what to call this
kind of music. I think it touches on many important issues.

I recently did a performance on a friend's regional live theater/radio
show - Van Williamson's "Radio From Downtown", in the DelMarVa
(Delaware, Maryland, Virgina) area. It's kind of a "Prarie Home
Companion" radio variety show, localized for the eastern shore of
Maryland and environs. It's a 2-hour show done in a live theater with
about 125 people in the audience, which is then broadcast on local
public radio and cable access stations. The centerpiece is a humorous
radio play written by Van and performed in classic style, with about 10
performers plus foley and recorded sound effects.

Anyway, I had 2 slots of about 8 minutes each. In the first one, I only
had 4 minutes after the intro and kibbutzing. So I played one short
funky blues "naked" (I think it works best to prove that you can play
ungadgeted guitar and getting the doubt out of the way before jumping
into deeper waters). Then I played a little piece which I call
Simplicity which is just noodling over a jazzy Fm vamp - I used the
guitar synth to lay down the bass line first, then add the usual hi-hat
cliche riff, then improvise. I like to break people in gently to the
technology - they have a bit of natural resistance to technology in
music, for some reason.

In the second half, I came back with the big piece. I've got a piece
called "I Woke Up", which starts off as a text piece (I build up a poem
in the loop in a way that keeps everyone guessing what the next syllable
will be), then transforms as I put the text+other sounds loop through a
pitch shifter/delay controlled by my MIDI guitar. Then I play big masses
of sound with my guitar, but with no guitar sound for a while.
Eventually I stop.

Anyway, "I Woke Up" twisted some heads around - lots of people with jaws
dropped down to the ground. Many comments were like: "It was incredible,
but I wouldn't call it music." People had a hard time calling it music.
Maybe it isn't music. I would describe my musical and extra-musical
activities in general as "the manipulation of attention through sound",
however, that also describes radio, so it's too broad. (BTW, if you want
to keep people's attention, try working language into your pieces
somehow. We're very wired to respond to that).

In this theater performance, I asked to be billed as a "Sound Sculptor".
I also considered going for "Performance Artist".


Now some responses to earlier comments:

> Bryan Helm wrote:
> >I think about it ,my last live gig was 2 years ago this coming
> >October for an
> >artist's reception at a gallery in Denver.

Art gallery or museum openings and events are the most logical venue for
this kind of thing. I'm not exactly sure why (Does it seem to anyone
else that the visual arts community is more open to individual
expression, abstraction and primitivism than are the music listeners?) I
did a friend's gallery opening a few months ago - just me, guitar synth,
Echoplex and free improvisation. It was perfect, and people loved it. I
also did a bunch of truly "out there" improvisations (midi loop-based,
when I was relying on my GTM-6 controller for loops) at a big Halloween
mega art-fest in SF some years ago.

Chris Chovit <cho@newdream.net> said:

> But what audiences are available for us loopers?
> Well, that is the question we have to answer, and in part, I think we
> have
> to CREATE our own situations and audiences.

Agreed. We also need to *write pieces*. Improvisation is great and
wonderful, but people invariably respond to the more dramatic pacing and
sense of organization that planning can create.

> That is, we need to find out
> what works, and build upon that until....maybe some day....we will be
> playing LOOPAPOLOOZA's (that's a great one, Bryan!) or filling
> stadiums for
> loop performances.

I don't think I can dream that big.

> IMHO, looping devices are good for the following functions/settings:
> 1.  Inner reflection ...
> 2.  Performer -- audience interaction.  ...

> 3.  As Bryan, suggested, combining sounds with other mediums, perhaps
> even
> having them "interact" with each other.
> 4.  Installation settings, where the music is not the prime focus.

#4 could be interpreted to apply to  live performances in restaurants,
museums and at cocktail parites (but be sure to not get too weird in the
restaurant!). I'd add5. web pages
6. cd-roms
7. computer desktops.

Yours truly,
Warren Sirota