Iain Cameron's Diary
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2005-01-10 - 8:28 a.m.

I found some string samples and used one to create a WAV loop of two fifths a major third apart - and copied that loop to the other Wavelab and put it up by a major third and took a slice out of the silence so it was slightly shorter. Each pitch is represented by a short then a long note. There s a whole lot more variety than you might imagine when you let it rip. I recorded some Dhorn mixed in - in a single take so to speak.

Did mention that I am fiddling with Windows Movie Maker? Ever since I saw the results that Peter Chatterton got with assemblage of static picures and voice over I have wanted to dip my toe in that pool. I am using stock visuals - a blue shot of a forest o a mountain side and a sunset, captions and the standard set of transitions and effects with a 24 second exract from a 4 minute piece of flute music that generated by Wav manpulation. Just trying to get reinforcements between the transitions in audio and visual.

I am listening to orchestral extracts from Berg - Lulu, Lyric Suite and Wozzeck. It was going cheap yesterday in FOPP. Not totally my cup of tea but nicely between two worlds. You can’t help thinking of the heavily personal codes that B used to construct his music. Also of P Glass working back to chromaticism and opera.

Talking about constructivism, I read more about the technique that Cage used to make Fontana Mix - a heavily graphic approach where a straightline is used as a scale for each of four musical parameters. These lines could be drawn on a transparency which can be overlaid on various curvelinear patterns. The intersections between the lines and the curves give parameters to develop the electronic sound which constitutes the piece - sounds which appear to an uninformed listener to vary very little. This is a step on from setting musical parameters using the I Ching - the famous move which Cage made about seven years before the Fontana piece. Using the I Ching was a move on from the Gamut technique where each cell in a matrix has a sound in it and the pieces emerges from a progression through the grid. The Gamut approach is the one which appeals to me most just now.

Schoenberg sits at the heart of constructivism - both Cage and Berg were pupils - as indeed is (at one remove) is Lamont Young. If you have seven pounds to spare and can get to a FOPP I recommend Maters of American Music - the World According to John Coltrane on DVD. For it has several minutes of interview with the godfather of minimalism on the cosmology of Trane’s approach.

There’s a lot more besides - it’s really well researched . It goes from the only extant film of Charlie Parker to Roscoe Mitchell from the Art Ensemble of Chicago jamming with dervish musicians in the Sahara Desert. It opens with part of a duo between Trane and the late Elvin Jones. Then into some astonishing footage of early gospel - suggesting that this was the source of the ecstatic in his music. They have a 1946 recording of Trane on alto sounding like Bird. Wayne Shorter talks about the muscular underpinning of Trane’s facility. Jimmy Heath says that they heard that Bird was using Stravinsky and so the two of them went to the library in Philly to hear some of those recordings and look at those scores..

Tommy Flanagan talks about the way Trane dropped Giant Steps on him with its novel harmonic logic . And you get the solo from the 1959 TV version of So What which is as good as the one on the record. There’s quite a long film of a quite ‘out’ version of My Favourite Things from an open air concert - probably in Germany. It bring the crowd to their feet.

There’s Eric Dolphy with the quartet in 1961 on Impressions who plays a storming solo straight after Trane which is if anything more abstract. Then his school-band mate LmY explains how Trane linked Lester Young to Indian classical music. Then the importance of certain frequency relationships and the way that they can impact on the CNS. LmY comments that Trane’s music was able to reach out great distances without embracing any kind of commercialism. So they show the 12 string solo from a live performance of Eight Miles High. Then drop into the end of the first movement of A Love Supreme followed by a live performance of Alabama.

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