Fwd: [rumori] live performance

Vicki Bennett Fwd: [rumori] live performance
Sun, 14 Mar 1999 11:40:41 +0000 (00921411641, v01510100b3114a486d09at[])

In response to Jon's mail earlier:

Regardless of live or studio, when the energy is flowing and you become a
passive witness there is nothing more special. At present I'm meant to be
(!) recording an album and it always feels like a nightmare when I know
"I'm recording an album" and the whole recording process has to be a series of distractions so my brain flows rather than blocking up.

I find that the main difference between live performance and recording over
a non fixed time is the amount of WEIGHT that I invest in the actual time
of performing.

Rehearsing/preparing to play live is comparable to making an album. Having
arguments with the people you're playing with due to stress of deadlines is
comparable to the pressure of trying too hard to make the greatest
recording on earth. Only playing live is often the release of that build
up of energy AT THE TIME of performing, whereas with recording, you can
only relax when the creating is OVER. Does that make sense?

Recording is a process. Playing live is the product of the process. But
then there's improv. Oh!
I disagree with all of this already. This is a gross generalisation but I


>Basically, Varese composing 'Poeme Electronique' or Stockhausen composing
>'Kontakte' in the fifties: (I contend that) these recordings are audibly
>recognizable as 'compositions'. The laborous studio procedures at hand
>took months to realize, so every second of the resulting sound was
>subjected to several months worth of compositional decisions and choices.
>There's also a heavy sense of 'play', of improvisational discovery within
>the actual sounds that were perhaps discovered 'messing about' in the
>studio, but the months of work that were required to place the sounds in
>context are (I am contending) audible.
>There was that one section of 'Kontakte' (I forget the exact min.sec
>portion) that Stockhausen discusses in 'Stockhausen on Music', that took
>him and an assistant several months to assemble, cutting several sound
>sources apart into millimeter fragments of tape and reassembling them into
>two tracks of linear sound. He knew the sonic effect he wanted to result
>from this process. Two months later -- work done -- presses play -- his
>heart sinks as he realizes that the tape-fragment-lengths were ever so
>slightly over-long to acheive the ascending effect he wanted -- they have
>to do it all over again. The second time, he got what he had been attempting.
>Today, one could start the process in real time with MSP, and two seconds
>in, 'hear' the overlong fragments and correct it _in real time_. I am
>curious as to what this effect is having on music.
>Part of the charge in listening to 'Kontakte', for me, is somehow 'hearing'
>the investment of energy in each compositional choice. The sounds
>themselves have a direct emotive impact, but on another level, my dim
>knowledge of the techniques that the sounds must have required is as much a
>part of the piece's _audible_ structure as the simple sounds themselves.
>Now, today, one could recreate 'Poeme Electronique' by loading various
>sounds into a sampler, and using DSP and a keyboard, retransform the source
>material in real time before a live studio audience. It would be tricky,
>mind you, it would take rehearsal and dexterity as a performer to realize a
>faithful recreation. But it could be done 'live'. Is it the same piece?
>More to the point: what is happening, is that performers are taking the
>latitude granted by instant access to these labor-intensive studio
>techniques, and 'learning' how to improvise with them. No point beyond
>fetish value recreating Varese in real time; what is interesting is
>learning exactly how to bring these techniques into real-time play.
>So this all makes, sense; composition is still composition, it's simply
>that improvisation has been given a whole new realm of technique to
>explore. Recording technology brought on a brief historical division
>between 'live music' and recording-specific compositions, and several
>decades later the technology has sufficiently progressed to overcome the
>Still, vertigo all over. For years now, I've learned much from carefully
>re-editing tapes generated in improvised radio performances. As Vicki
>said, radio is different, it's a unique meeting place of the live
>environment and the studio, so I didn't notice the phenomenon quite so
>consciously until I made the transisition into live performance before
>crowds, and then took the tapes home for listening.
>Documents of live performances are often invested with a very strange,
>intangible charge, are somehow self-evidently 'live' recordings. Editing
>radio I often noticed how one minor 'edit' to remove or modify a 'mistake'
>would have the side-effect of completely ruining the recording's energy.
>I've gotten better at learning what to leave, but this live aura is still a
>bit of a mystery.
>Now that I am collecting recordings of music performed in full sight of an
>audience, the aura is extremely audible. I'm presenting to the audience my
>studio proficiency; how well I pause a tape, cross cut two sources, loop
>or layer a rhythm, crossfade a record. At home, most of the techniques I
>would use to carefully edit the recorded document of the live show are
>already in evidence on the recording itself. This isn't 'doctoring',
>editing out bum guitar notes or overdubbing better backup vocals,
>post-editing instantly enters into a severe confusion with the identity of
>the recording as a document. Increasingly, the vocabulary of live
>performance is merging with the vocabulary of recording-only compositions.
>Very simple and very baffling paradigm shift here; there's no difference
>now between using a guitar to slowly piece together/compose a song, then
>using the guitar to play it through in real time, and using a studio
>patched through a mixer. We've dealt with the existence of acoustically
>impossible sounds (and the paradigm shift that forces between live &
>recording) simply by admitting the reproduction of them on stage into the
>paradigm of 'live musical performance'.
>I'm not sure what my final point is yet, but I do think that there's
>something that I (and the increasingly wide audience) is missing during
>this paradigm shift; i.e. the line between live and recording being erased
>simply by the rise of live music based on recordings, that would be an odd
>thing for the listener to lose conscious track of. There seems to be no
>end to the microscopic diffusion of Benjamin's 'aura' that seems to be
>happening with each new technological impact on artistic expression.
>How to keep track? Impact on the music itself? I'm curious if any of you
>have seen any of this manifest in your stuff, if you've managed to avoid
>this logical loop altogether, anything to help me fall back to sleep.
>Also, from the last round, Vicki, Steev, Lloyd, Mark G., Bob, all had
>specific responses I am trying to collate a response to, which will
>probably be much more usefully concrete towards further conversation than
>any of the above muck I had to pass, next time.