The temperature was unusually cool and a breeze was present throughout the performance in the patio space behind my residence. Stimulated by the winds, the vegetation provided a continuous, rustling accompaniment to my e-bowed tones. Nearby automobiles, dogs and neighbors offered occasional contributions. In addition to Michael Pisaro and Manfred Werder, the performance was dedicated to my sister, whose birthday extended the harmonic complexity of the realization.
28th of August, 3:32 pm to 5:37 pm Gessner-Garten of the Old Botanical Garden, Zürich. Performance: Manfred Werder Audience: Passer-by visiters of the Botanical Garden.
Bright sun, around 27°C. A strong wind moved the clouds which produced beautiful and abrupt light changes. The whole flora in the Gessner-Garten, on a little hill centrally located in the inner city, was sounding, moved by the winds - all plants and trees with their each different white noises, and all that mixed with the sounds of near traffic and city life. Getting lost in the great late summer abundance of the garden's vegetation.
My intention was to give myself the space for a first try at this score. I recorded this version outside Rowley Church in East Yorkshire, not far from my home. I wasn’t aware of an attempt to ‘perform’ the score, instead I was exploring it and thinking about different things. In that sense this is a record of a non-performance. I don’t want to detach myself from who I am, how I feel. At the time of this recording I wasn’t only thinking of the score. It is an intuitive response.
Jez riley French – September 2009
Performance recorded on August 26th, 2009 – outside Rowley Church, East Yorkshire, mid-afternoon
Performed 26 August 2009 from approx. 12:30 pm through 1:30 pm at the Osaka Japanese Garden on Wooded Island in Chicago’s Jackson Park.
The Osaka Garden is an oasis of relative quiet in the midst of an otherwise very noisy urban environment; the small waterfall near the teahouse dominates the soundscape, but other less bucolic sounds intermittently intrude—traffic, airplanes passing overhead, the nearby commuter train, and the voices or footfalls of other visitors to the garden. This particular day was unseasonably cold, windy, and overcast, with the result that I largely had the garden to myself for the duration of the performance; the weather seemed to suffuse the park with a lonely and somewhat melancholic atmosphere.
Having spent some time considering the score—and closely considering the Rexroth text, in particular—it seemed appropriate to me, on several levels, to perform this piece using one of my late grandmother’s hearing aids. When clasped in my palm, the hearing aid produced quiet, gently modulated feedback; on opening my hand, the feedback ceased. I spent approximately 1 hour sitting, listening, and occasionally responding to the surrounding space or the course of my own thoughts by closing and opening my hand.
Pwll Penarth, Y Drenewydd, Powys, Wales. 21/08/09. 11am. Large singing crystal bowl, tuned to G.
Left ear to the door. After ending first tone the river distorted. Whilst in the middle of the tone the flow of the river fragmented, separating the process, hearing water in its myriad formations. Upon ending the piece the weir at my back developed two distinct tones, though I cannot remember the difference between the two.
*Writing in an abandoned lorry container whilst listening. *Positive/negative transcendence. *Chose this spot to cancel out the noise in my ear, a locale that runs parallel. *I would not be thinking what I am now thinking about hearing if it was not for hearing, so I am hearing more now that I am writing than if I was not. *The container acts as a large filter. I realised the score in a very exposed area and if I had chosen to record the sustained tone in the path of the strong winds present that day I would have placed myself in a state of confusion and subsequent disorientation, with the wind distorting inside my right ear.
Time is not quiet, I hear it but I do not know how to hear it, I can't go back to it because I can't remember it. The hiss in my ear is a doppelgänger, and one that varies day by day, according to the enfolding hours. A realisation that it affects me as much as I affect it.
I recorded this version of Michael Pisaro's composition "Only [harmony series no. 17]" in the swiss Alps, about an hour's hike from the village of Brüsti in the state of Uri. After reading the score I instantly thought of doing the recording here. I'd been to Brüsti several times with my family for holidays, so I knew the area relatively well and was confident I could find a good spot to record. I made the recording with a large steel bowl I bought at a flea market in Zürich. I played the bowl with one hand, using a soft vibraphone mallet. After arriving in Brüsti I walked further up in the mountains, trying to find a place away from the hiking trails. I settled on a small ridge rising between two valleys, with a view of the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne) in front of me. The elevation was around 2000 meters (6000 feet). I spent a good deal of time finding the right position for the microphones and the steel bowl. It became immediately apparent how far removed this site was from the cliché of the alpen idyll, as a steady background of cowbells, rushing water, wind and the occasional airplane made for a very dense and sometimes loud environment. The cowbells came from a herd of cows far down in the valley behind me, as did the water which flowed from a slowly thawing patch of snow around the size of a football field. As I was using very sensitive microphones, all these sounds tend to take on more of a presence on the recording than they did when I was sitting there listening and playing. The sound of flies buzzing past the microphones or even some of the birds singing were not audible to me until I listened back to the recording. The wind played a great role in both my playing and the recording. At times I was engulfed in fairly strong gusts blowing in from the valleys below. This had the effect of either sweeping some sounds away or amplifying them. I sometimes had the sense that the cows had moved away or that the river was slowly drying up. But as soon as the wind receded these sounds returned to their previous levels. At one point the wind even made it possible for me to hear the steam ships down on the Vierwaldstättersee blowing their horns as they headed into port. On the recording the wind becomes especially evident when I am playing the bowl. I had the feeling that I played at fairly constant dynamic levels and also rather softly, but, depending on the direction and intensity of the wind. the sound of the bowl would either almost disappear or become more audible. In any case, my aim when playing was to somehow find a way of co-existing with the sonic environment up there on the ridge. In a way, I didn't want to concentrate as much on my playing as on all the sound events occurring around me. I'd have to say that the first time I played the bowl on the recording, after sitting still and listening for around ten minutes, I experienced the strange sensation that I was somehow encroaching on the natural sound environment, so alien did the steel bowl sound in relation to everything else. After several minutes of playing I started to feel more comfortable with my role and found a way into the sounds around me.
I made this recording with a mid-side array of Sennheiser MKH30 and MKH60 microphones going into a Sound Devices 702 digital recorder. The microphones were set up around twelve feet from the bowl. I wanted to make sure I had a good balance between the signal coming from the bowl and the natural environment. It seemed that having the bowl close mic'd would be going against the spirit of the composition. Back in the studio I rolled off the bass frequencies below 60 hz. Other than this, there was no noise reduction, compression or any other post-production applied to the recording. Recorded August 18, 2009. Brüsti, Switzerland.
According to the station site, Union Station is only closed for one minute everyday.
The hour before this minute must be really different than all of the other hours. The performance took place during the first half of that hour. I wasn't there for the minute.
Many people had questions for me while I was at the station, including security, the ventilation system, and a travelling college girl.
People, as they pass, might not notice how long their voices will survive without them in the reverberant lobby.
In a space with so many questions and only one minute of answer, it was nice to perform the activity "Only" sets up: to listen to the voices--dependent and independent of their sources, to think about how to respond, and then to respond, sometimes all at once.
Neufelden, Austria, 2pm "This mono recording is a ca. 15 minute excerpt of my performance of "only: harmony series no. 17" on the afternoon of 1 August (2009) near the Austrian town of Neufelden. I walked along a path following the Grosse Mühl until I came to a nice peaceful spot to spend a long period of time. The recording captures mainly the sound of the river itself and the nearby birds, with the occasional airplane. After a while I begin playing. This performance, like the score itself, is dedicated to Manfred Werder."