Iain Cameron's Diary
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2007-01-05 - 9:18 a.m.
I ordered a couple of things to get 2007 going after a fashion. One was Free Fall by the Jimmy Giuffre trio. I started on this after seeing Jim Hall with Dave Holland and the idea came to me that the Train and the River and their concept of folk-jazz using guitar might be an important influence on the subsequent Jansch-Graham guitar school.
Free Fall is about five years later and belongs to a different universe. Steve Swallow is on string bass – I have only ever seen him with Carla Bley playing electric bass in a very distinctive edgey way. Her former husband, Paul Bley is on piano on Free Fall, a recording which re-establishes the clarinet as a post-modern jazz instrument. Its music which is almost precedent in jazz – some people think that the ideas in it have only been picked up in the last 15 years or so eg by Dave Douglas, who played in Birmingham last year with his trio.
It links in my mind with the pre 1980 piano music by Ligeti that I have been listening to – the subsequent etudes bring together jazz and 20C ‘serious’ eg Reich, Bill Evans, Noncarrow and Cage . But the potentiality for this fusion is perhaps there in the earlier ‘modern’ music.
I have been doing a lot of guitar music – Electric Elf, then the U2 Danelectro – using the Digitech amp simulator – quite elaborate chords – 5 or 6 notes – but key centred nonetheless. But today I went back to the more abstract music I wrote in 2003 and took the first piece from NYC0303 and put it to a video. The vid seeks for some Rothko-like moments – quite deep and gloomy.
The other piece from NYC0303 which has escaped is a duet between Gilbert and myself which used to be on the KK site. Gilbert wasn’t totally keen on it but I think its true to the time. That means there are three more pieces lurking on minidisk waiting to be finished from this set. Really it was the last major thing I did before 10 Short Stories. At about three and a half minutes, the vid is longer than the other stuff I have been making which is mostly just over a minute.
Yesterday, I went and looked at a G&L ASAT which is their version of the Tele – there are some in the guitar shop 5 minutes walk from my flat. I tried it on Line 6 amp and then on a Roland Cube 20 watt – one of which I have in the boot of my car. The Roland was so much better for establishing the true character of the guitar although the one in the shop had digital reverb whereas the one in the boot of my car has a spring.
Anyway then I tried a new US Tele as a test and there really wasn’t a competition. The guy in the shop says he is saving up for a US Tele - their retail price has rocketed to over £700 which means at today’s exchange rate someone is making money. But, the US Tele has so much character its not true – the Roland is very good for bringing out the sweeter side of the instrument and I can see why that amp ended up on the Behringer amp simulator suite. The Teles will still sell at that price I know because people will want that sound which is characterful in its own right and laden with associations too.
The shop is where I bought my U2 quite soon after arriving here at a very decent price and I have had it set up again once by them subsequently . They briefly had the second edition U2 with more onboard electronics but no longer, unfortunately. Similarly they no longer stock the Korean Fender Teles with the humbucker at the neck – these were very interesting guitars and I might have been tempted. The U2 was a brilliant buy, though , with a great sweet single coil sound which is where I have ended up. I must get the bridge pick-up on the Gfd Tele sorted out . I should also get the Duosonic sorted – I don’t think I’m ever going to buy a Strat.
The other recent arrival is a global history of philosophy by Randall Collins which was recommended in Steve Fuller’s book on the Popper-Kuhn debate. It has made an extremely good first impression. I started by reading about the relationship between philosophy and mathematics in the 19th century and how this led to the Vienna Circle. I know some of this period quite well but Collins is very good in the way he links in the evolution of ideas which subsequently ended up at the opposite pole from 20th century positivism. He certainly makes the case for Popper – something that Fuller endorses.
He is interesting on the way that neo-Kantian thought dies out in the early 20c – mainly because more interesting ideas begin to dominate what he calls ‘the attention space’. There’s no doubt that one of the big issues is how maths comes to link up with the world at all and in particular the rather elliptical way in which maths is used in quantum theory – especially the way that maths is allowed to supersede any kind of physical vision of what the world is like. I suppose one should call this formalism. RC also has a very clear idea of how Wittgenstein and Godel step out of this situation in different directions. Godel is the wunderkind of the Vienna Circle in the 20s.
I have said it before and will doubtless say it again – but its extraordinary how Turing goes from Gfd to Kings and then to Princeton to talk to Godel and then back to Kings and Trinity to Wittgenstein’s seminars on the foundations of mathematics. Not only that but a group of people have the wit to write down some of the Turing/Wittgenstein exchanges for the rest of us.
RC is a sociologist and he sees the UK intellectual elite as a very tightly knit group with Russell as a nodal point – this group is tightly bonded in relation to other similar groups across all global history. Turing is outside the net.