Occasional posts on subjects including field recording, London history and literature, other websites worth looking at, articles in the press, and news of sound-related events.

16 June 2014

Thanks to everyone who came to Earshots 4

SATURDAY BEFORE last, the 7th of June, I was invited by Ed Lucas and Daniel Kordik of Earshots to play some field recordings at the start of an evening of improv music.

On the line-up were Sarah Gail Brand, John Russell and Ross Lambert. All three are renowned improv musicians so I was unsure how well me and my laptop would go down.

From the audience’s point of view, staring at the raised lid of a laptop just isn’t as exciting as being close to the physical effort and verve of someone playing a real instrument. I’ve wondered whether it might not be an idea to buy an old reel-to-reel machine and use that instead. Surely it would push things one notch up on the visual thrill-ometer.

Luckily Ed and Daniel had decided that I should play my recordings in pitch darkness anyway, and it all seemed to go down well. As proof, here’s the photo I took straight after the Q&A session:

I love giving talks and playing recordings to people, and the Earshots crowd were a particularly friendly lot. Sarah Gail Brand had to pull out at the last minute, so Ed Lucas stepped in to play an accomplished trombone solo. John Russell and Ross Lambert performed a fantastic duet, made more so by knowing it was unrehearsed, using not just the strings of their guitars but pretty much every surface of the instruments to make sound.

Later, I looked up some of John’s performances on YouTube and noted one comment along the lines of This isn’t music! It’s not a sentiment I agree with. Being exposed to ‘difficult’ music helps expand how you listen to and recognise the patterns and possibilities in the sounds of everyday life.

Many years ago I asked a friend to recommend me some modern classical music. Knowing very little about it, I could only describe it to him as: The sort of music that’s like being stuck in solitary confinement, you know, austere sounding. Back came a box of tape cassettes of Radio 3 broadcasts he’d recorded over the years: Xenakis, Ligeti, Carl Ruggles, Luigi Nono, Charles Ives, Jonathan Harvey.

That gift did a lot for my listening and so too did Earshots 4. Thanks very much to Ed and Daniel for inviting me, to Ross and John, everyone else there and the Hundred Years Gallery.

If you’d like me to give a talk and play recordings at an event you’ve got lined up, or to a group or organisation you’re involved with, please drop me a line via the contact form.