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Re: Noises through pickups (rather gongs, or pieces of wood...)

Tim Nelson wrote:

>the opening piece was Steve Reich's "Music for Pieces of
>Wood". (Although there are no looping devices used on this piece, it IS
>quite loop-topical due to the cyclical and repetitive nature of the
>composition.) Anyway, I'm fairly certain I had heard this piece before in 
>recorded form, but this was the first time I'd ever heard it performed
>live. It was amazing; the sound was reflecting all around the room (an old
>church with lots of wooden surfaces and an arched ceiling), and the
>interference between frequencies in combination with the rhythm of the
>piece set up a very strange sensation in my inner ear. It wasn't the
>volume; it was the pulsation of the music, and I began to hear frequencies
>that could not have been produced by the instruments alone (five sets of
>claves in different sizes), but rather by the interaction and interference
>of all the sounds in combination. Very enjoyable!

Hear, hear!  I remember a similar occurrence 25 years ago, hearing Steve
Reich's ensemble performing his  "Clapping Music."  It was in a very small,
acoustically tight auditorium and I experienced the same sort of "my eyes
are seeing it, but my ears are deceived" phenomenon.  I couldn't believe
that 2 people clapping (in and out of rhythmic phase) could produce so much
sound!  Needless to say, I was flabbergasted when the entire ensemble 
"Drumming" -- 5 performers playing unamplified tuned bongos with sticks --
it sounded as though there were an entire orchestra of drummers!

Two or three years ago I had a similar experience hearing LaMonte Young's
Forever Bad Blues Band at the Knitting Factory.  Again, no mechanical or
electronic looping involved, but the music itself was like one extremely
long loop.  They played only one piece, "Young's Dorian Blues in D" for
nearly three hours.  The piece was similar to a 12-bar blues, except that 
was very drone-based and the format was more like a 1200-bar blues :-)
Young played a just-intonation tuned keyboard, the Catler brothers played
fretless bass, fretless electric guitar (as well as a wild, snap-on
microtonal multifretted neck, which I believe has been discussed on-list
several months ago).  The drummer played a standard trap kit (I couldn't
discern any alternate tuning ;-} ).

The music itself was incredible.  I'm not well-versed in the Blues, but 
was no traditional blues band.  What really interested me, however, was not
any particular part that any individual was playing, but the overall SOUND
of the music in the room.  Due to the just-intonation, as well as the 
level, it seemed as though a huge, billowing, shimmering sonic cloud was
just hanging there in the air.  I got the feeling that THIS was what the
piece was all about -- the cumulative (cumulus?) effect of the instruments'
decay rates, the inevitable clash of harmonics from the just-intonation, 
manner in which the room itself shaped the sound, and the sense that the
individual notes didn't really mean so much on their own but added to the
synergy of the whole.

I've heard the recording of the same piece that was done about 1 year 
I saw them perform it, and as great as it was, the recording just didn't
capture that "cloud effect" from being there in the room.  I guess the same
could be said of any performance of any type of music, from heavy-metal to 
symphony orchestra to gamelan.   But I kept finding myself almost 
what the band was playing, and concentrating my listening focus on that
"cloud."  It was a very interesting night of listening.