Gordon's Progress Part 2

Posted: 2/19/2008 12:49:16 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

A month since I posted last!

I've been busy. The extension is finished, and I'm officially a garage band. Got my theremins set up in the garage. Hurrah.

I've trailed a little wire off the volume loop and taped it to the top of the etherwave. Another variation in staccato. Gives a very neutral sound - no bendiness like the Kurstin pluck, no pronounced start like the articulation regulator, just: the sound is not there, then it is.

Also busy with a little friending drive on mySpace, for the sake of bigging up ethermusic. So my friend count has jumped by 50%.

But that's not the point of this post. The point is

[b]Dancing With Ghosts[/b]

Background. As I learned from the Lydia Kavina masterclass, the whole body affects the field - move in close to stretch out the high notes etc. Over on levnet there has been a boisterous discussion about experimental music, and in between the repartee I discovered that I am more Parch than Cage and found a nice little article about Partch on the web.


This is the bit that caught my attention:

[i]But more than this, he designed the instruments to be "corporeal." To Partch, corporeal meant to involve the whole body—the whole person—in the art. He hated the way performing-art forms had been separated by "the curse of specialization:" a musician is only a musician, a dancer only a dancer.[/i]

Lev Teremen tried to realise this idea with the terpsitone - an oversized theremin.

At Hands Off I danced with two theremins.

This morning I put it all together and danced with one theremin. And of course a delay to add complexity and richness and a steady beat to keep me grounded.

The fields are a ghostly, dynamic presence, invisible, intangible, reacting to your movements. Draw back and they shrink away. Move closer and the extend around you, stretch out and surround you. Dance, and the control zone dances. And as it dances, it sings. And when you dance well, it sings well.

Is it possible to play like that? For the music I make, yes. Do we need to stand still to catch a ball? Can dancers dance with precision and accuracy? No. Yes. The brain can do the amazing maths required all by itself when we learn to trust it.

I have often likened learning the theremin to riding a bicycle - at first you're all over the place, then your hand-ear coordination develops and you can go in a straight line. During the recent levnet discussions the inestimable Peter Pringle likened a classical thereminist to a race car driver. Well, a bicycle race suits my metaphor better, and I don't think it looses anything in the transliteration. If a classical thereminist is like a bicycle racer, then this is BMX Freestyle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMYnALVGmyQ).

Posted: 2/20/2008 7:18:17 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Re: previous post.

... but not today.

Apparently this is one of those things that happens when it happens. Today was back to the usual, but a little more confident. Confidence is good - I can hear it in music I think of as good.

Next time it happens, it will be a bit more likely to happen again.

Perhaps. Doesn't always go that way.

Anyway, whatever catalysed it, it was fun.
Posted: 2/25/2008 11:08:53 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

I had a lovely day out yesterday.

Took the tube to Green Park, one of the nicer areas of London, watched a couple of recently rediscovered early Russian movies, exchanged a few words with Lydia Kavina, came home. Lovely.

Rewind. More details. Ms Kavina was part of a trio providing live accompaniment. From my front row seat she was silhouetted against the bottom left of the screen, like the sign-language lady on TV. Also playing were a big-bearded saxophonist/clarinettist/slide-whistler and a guy with a small table of electronics and a macBook.

The first film - The Cameraman's Revenge - was a stop-frame animation short, starring anthropomorphised insects in a sordid tale of showgirls, infidelity and revenge. The soundtrack was a suitably insectoid noisescape about a thousand miles away from the classical music predominantly associated with Lydia K. I was transported back to my childhood, watching The Clangers, East German children's TV (The Singing Ringing Tree for example) and listening to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop on the BBC's school programmes, and after school in Doctor Who and The Tomorrow People.

The main feature - Aelita: Queen of Mars - was a mixture of sci-fi - Flash Gordon (yeah!) Metropolis - gritty social documentary, communist satire (one of the captions read "Workers Of Mars Unite" - honestly) love story and comedy. (Ha ha. Another caption card read "You are under arrest for murder." -- "Some detective! You can't even recognise a false beard and wig!" -- "Then you are under arrest for assuming someone else's identity.")

The soundtrack switched between soft free jazz and bleepy early electronica to match the tone of the film, with the sax doing the jazz, the electronics doing the electronica and Lydia gliding effortlessly back and forth between the two on her tVox. She is so cool. Sat and chatted like she was about to watch a movie, then wandered up to her instrument and made it look sooooo easy, then wandered off stage and chatted again afterwards like she hadn't done anything special.

She called it "funny music" and remembered that I rather liked that sort of thing.

I wish funny music was as easy for me!

Posted: 2/27/2008 10:52:46 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

And here's some of my funny music featuring the articulation regulator, complete with a visual celebration of the female form.


YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEEE2hwJRDQ). MySpace (http://myspacetv.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=29233978).
Posted: 2/27/2008 1:12:43 PM

From: Blaricum, The Netherlands

Joined: 10/24/2007

Most enjoyable. :-)
Posted: 2/27/2008 9:56:58 PM

From: Toledo, Ohio United States of America

Joined: 2/22/2006

Women! When they aren't talking they seem to be undressing, or dancing to the tune of Gordon's two dimensional pitch pipe! Ha! Very nice!

Good Luck!

Posted: 2/28/2008 12:21:21 PM

From: Germany, near Munich

Joined: 11/20/2007

...I like the music and I enjoyed listening!
Posted: 2/28/2008 6:44:19 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Today I etched a sketch of me playing the theremin.

- view full size (http://a353.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images01/109/l_97a2154e3ca23969ee23e965393b7070.jpg)
Posted: 2/28/2008 7:33:00 PM

From: Toledo, Ohio United States of America

Joined: 2/22/2006

Hey Gordon,
That 'Ohio Arts' toy is made not to far from were I live! Unless the license has been allowed elsewhere. "A smaller world it has become, yes?"
And, I must say that you are quite the 'Etch Artist'.

Good Luck!

Posted: 2/28/2008 9:31:59 PM
Brian R

From: Somerville, MA

Joined: 10/7/2005

Tesla, I note that Gordon's is labeled "Mattel" and "Sababa Toys," but not "Ohio Art"... so methinks there is indeed licensing afoot.

Gordon, that is indeed a remarkable depiction. One might suspect that extensive thereminizing has honed your ability to create complex art, controlling only two parameters...

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