[NetBehaviour] Viola, Stockhausen, Infinite Space

michael szpakowski michael at dvblog.org
Mon Oct 6 10:22:28 CEST 2014

Definitely interested! The list is not a jar or bottle which spills over -keep posting your stuff but I personally welcome discussion about it , at what ever length too...

On Sun, 10/5/14, Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] Viola, Stockhausen, Infinite Space
 To: "NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity" <netbehaviour at netbehaviour.org>
 Date: Sunday, October 5, 2014, 11:54 PM
 intersperse comments re: below, but I'm not sure anyone
 else is 
 interested (I'd hope so, but I
 send so much to the list)
 On Sun, 5 Oct 2014, Johannes Birringer
 > I wonder whether we could have a longer
 discussion, here, and whether 
 > that
 might interest others as well?  I am particularly curious
 > three aspects, and just mention
 them here.
 > - the
 > you speak
 of "the world" as being resonant, reverberant, and
 > particular attention to the viola
 recording and the vibration (low hz) 
 reccording, thus also on what is audible and how, and what
 affect the 
 > lower (drone) resonances
 might have.  I then became interested as well 
 > in the associations you made
 (Stockhausen), and went back to what you 
 > refered me to ("Gesang der
 J?nglinge", an early piece and we have a 1956 
 > recording of it [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XfeWp2y1Lk]
 -- speech 
 > sounds, edited and combined
 with electronic sounds, at one point we find 
 > out that the percolating sounds are
 layered in such a way that: "each 
 speech sound is regarded as one permutational manifestation
 of the 
 > elements contained in
 it"  --- which now makes very interesting 
 > listening after I heard your viola); then
 again my interest is in why 
 > vibration
 is such a hot topic at the moment, it seems; why has the 
 > tactile/kinesthetic, and haptic and the
 vibrational (bodyradio, 
 > sensortized
 sound, physological signal transmission, etc) feedback 
 > aroused the interest of sound artists,
 theatre artists, performers and 
 designers, and why such a recent increase in studes of
 affect (and 
 > affect design)?
 not sure re: above, but musicians I know have been
 interested for 
 years in vibration, which
 also connects to video feedbacks - not just 
 audio. People have performed in silos, etc. and
 there are a great number 
 of people working
 with natural phenomena in natural circumstances. Anyone 
 by the way playing a qin or performing noh -
 two examples - works with 
 resonant surfaces
 - the qin table or noh stage for examples; there are 
 also people claiming that paleolithic sites
 exhibit sonic characteristics 
 that were
 deliberately cultivated. Guitar feedback is another example.
 own work with the synthesizer we built
 in 1968 explored reonant harmonics 
 by overdriving oscillators. The current work is based on an
 awareness of the resonance / vibrations in
 the Cave, and I've worked with 
 recording building vibrations for years. Even
 VLF lightning signals are 
 based on
 resonance within 'tubes' in the ionosphere connected
 points on the earth. So it's
 not new to me at least, nor to a number of 
 people I admire, for example the environmental
 artist Geoff Dugan.
 > -
 the 3D visual cave environment: you speak of an immersive
 world, and 
 > spaces opening up under you
 (you are seated "on" visual graphics), and 
 > also wonder how this could be conveyed to
 anyone else. yes. it probably 
 can't, as we knew with powerful VR worlds such a Osmose
 (by Char Davies) 
 > that were for single
 wearer (goggles, strap around chest with sensor). 
 > And in my memory, being inside a cave, the
 projected "virtual" worlds 
 seeemed too close for me to recognize/perceive anything in
 > except, say, color and
 motion, vertigo.  Now how do relate that to the 
 > music, is it perhaps consonant with the
 sonic the way you sense 
 > transcendence
 of place and time?  do you even believe in transcendence
 > or the cosmic? what evokes in you
 those resonances?
 If I knew
 what the transcendent was, I might believe in it; we were
 talking with a friend about the numinous
 yesterday. I'd say I was seated 
 the graphics, and you're right of course, that can't
 be transmitted 
 which is a huge problem with
 the cave. I do think that Oculus Rift or some 
 such will clear that up - I know people who are
 using the developer's Rift 
 in Second
 Life - objects in fact are clearly recognizable and you can
 walk about your own creations. But I
 haven't pursued this - partly because 
 of lack of money, and partly because of the
 privacy of the experience - 
 others would
 have to purchase the same equipment to see the same things.
 In fact if people went 'around' my
 structures, now, in MacGrid or on 
 Life's Odyssey Sim, they _would_ be in the immersive 3d
 all the information is there!
 Of course music is easier, and
 one can use binaural headphones - I've 
 worked with binaural recording / playback at
 times and it's amazing.
 I believe btw in the cosmos - how could one not
 - but again, I'm not sure 
 what the
 'cosmic' is - I've certainly had mystical
 experiences, but I 
 don't ascribe any
 ontological or epistemological status to them. I feel 
 I'm lucky enough to see the amazing variety
 and beauty of our own planet, 
 even while it
 disappears -
 > - the
 metaphysics so I go back to the reference to infinity and
 > that the ref to Stockhausen is
 peligroso.  I am not taken by the "Licht" 
 > cycle and its bombastic transendentalism,
 though earlier work is 
 > fabulous and
 inspiring, and I do enjoy listening to Oktophonie, which I
 > think went into part of "Dienstag
 aus Licht." Why Stockhausen's 
 heptalogy, the seven days of the week composition, is titled
 "Light" is 
 > of course strange
 too. For the 19th century painters of the sublime, 
 > light probably was crucial; for 20th
 century german composers, at the 
 > time
 of Kraftwerk and Einst?rzende Neubauten, I wonder where
 > thought he was lifting off
 to, Romanticism having been thorough 
 discredited, and terror and the sublime (now that you refer
 to ISIS) a 
 > dangerous ground.
 I'm not sure what you mean
 by 'peligroso' - I'm unfamiliar with the word,
 although I did look it up. The Stockhausen
 I was referring to was the 
 Gesang; I'm
 not that familiar with any of his more recent work, so
 I'm out 
 of my depth here. Are you
 referencing the helicopter piece? I would have 
 loved to have heard that, and I can see
 relationships of course. And I 
 would have
 liked to have heard Octophony.
 > The "Octophony" is available on
 line as an audio-video, appearing around the time a concert
 of this dense piece was done at the vast and enormous Park
 Ave Armory in New York, March 2013  - a concert spatially
 designed in white concentric seating (audience given white
 ponchos to wear) arrangement by Rirkrit Tiravanija, lighting
 design by Brian Scott.  Pic attached.  Listen here:
 > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcvTUNWYtW8
 > what I found very
 intriguing, of course, in both instances, yours and 
 > Oktophonie's, was the emphasis on
 spatialized 'total' sound experience 
 > (and, given the lighting and projection
 designs), perhaps also something 
 > one
 could call synaesthetic experience or transformational 
 > kinetic/tactile experience of sound (I
 became aware of Brasilian 
 > musician and
 sound researcher Serg?o Basbaum's interest in
 > effects of his
 "chromossonium" a few years ago when Serg?o wanted
 to do 
 > a project with me - but we have
 not yet worked together for me to find 
 out how the chromossonium works)(see his Pantharei
 performances (2014): 
 > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUwskBoO6H4)
 I also want to mention
 Jackson Moore, whom I've worked with, who did a 
 sonic cube with twelve channels - he was
 creating 'sonic objects' within 
 in a pitch-black environment; they were amazing, and a kind
 parallel to the cave. (we also did some
 performances in the cube, but 
 another story). And even back in the 70s I think, at UCSD,
 were similar things going on with
 12-channel compositions fully occupying 
 > do you think
 the "cosmic" sensation is multiple effects of
 > abstract motion graphics,
 vibration, hum, drone, and high freqency 
 > squirms (as an acoustic range of
 phenomena, with the visual a necessary 
 vertigo arouser)?
 It all
 adds up to a totality of course, of one sort or another;
 really 'happens' in these
 pieces, but they're surrounding, and I try to 
 convey that on the small video screen that can
 be transported within the 
 Internet, on
 personal laptops. The visual 'swaying' does create,
 even on 
 the flat screen, an illusion of
 depth, and of course listening with 
 headphones contributes as well. Everything goes
 together. I think of the 
 But the cosmic is only a
 sensation -
 Thank you!,
 > regards
 > Johannes
 > Sent: Friday, October 03, 2014 11:54 PM
 Hi Johannes, and thanks for your comments. The visuals were
 built by
 > Kathleen Ottinger, and
 designed so that the bow movement would 'slosh'
 > three-dimensional architecture at a
 fair wide and fast rate. I always play
 both violin and viola like this; there's a movement
 afoot in fact for
 > classical viola to be
 played vertically, since players get carpal tunnl
 > otherwise. It's also played vertically
 in some Arabic countries, as is the
 violin; for me, it's comfortable. The strings are tuned
 as 5th-4th-5th,
 > which gives me a number
 of drone positions that are really useful.
 > In this piece,
 I'm using the bow very near the bridge, played lightly
 > two strings and heavily on the third
 (second highest) so that harmonics
 > are
 sounded everywhere - the strings played lightly are played
 like the
 > qin, without pressing them
 down to the finger board.
 > It's a different sort of coupling for
 me, and I saw the bow/viola as part
 > of
 a larger resonant whole, not the traditional relationship.
 The same is
 > true of the graphics; space
 were opening up under me. The real problem of
 > the Cave is trying to convey all of this
 to someone elsewhere.
 > The two channels are different. The left
 channel is from the vibration
 > unit
 which reads from around .1 to 400 hz, very low - it records
 > creaks, everything like that, as
 well as the lowest tones of the music. So
 > I tend to raise this into hearing range.
 Here instead of that, I
 > compressed the
 sound so that the tones would come through at natural
 > frequency; some 60-cycle hum also comes
 through, but not much.
 > Stockhausing - Gesang der Junglinge (bad
 German spelling!) has stayed with
 > me,
 and some how this connected. Noh and Kabuki, absolutely.
 > When I play in this
 environment, it's as if I'm surrounded by the
 > (well, obviously), but the world
 is resonant, reverberant, and within
 reach - it's amazing. Would love to do this live, at
 least this part of
 > it, sometime. And
 there's a darkness to it, still thinking about ISIS
 > - it's an expulsion/emergence
 (reading again the Navajo creation story in
 > another version now).
 > Thank you so much -
 > On Fri, 3 Oct 2014, Johannes Birringer
 >> Hi Alan, am listening to it a second
 time, thanks for sharing, unusual
 performance/concert in a Cave (what were the visuals?), and
 you played
 >> the viola like a cello?
 when you say you imagine bow-coupled-to-the
 >> viola, what would that be? is the
 playing of bow on strings not already
 >> coupling? the sound on my headphone
 seems to differ (right clean, left
 channel compounded by a room hum or would that be the
 vibration meter? -
 >> what does that
 do for you during the playing? and lastly (great photo,
 >> you would be so good as a musician
 with Noh and Kabuki, I already see
 you there, seated on the left side of the stage; now, what
 has all this
 >> to do with channeling
 Stockhausen? which day? Samstag aus Licht?
 >> Freitag?). warm regards Johannes
 >> ++
 >> Viola,
 Stockhausen, Infinite Space
 >> http://www.alansondheim.org/caveviola44.jpg
 >> http://www.alansondheim.org/violastarcave.mp3
 >> The viola was
 coupled to the floor, fed through a standard
 >> instrument mic and vibration meter;
 the latter's track was
 amplified; my movements were coupled to the
 >> tunneling
 surrounding me in the Cave. Thanks to Kathleen
 >> Ottinger for stunning visuals, Azure
 Carter for videography,
 >> and the
 Brown University Cave. I channeled Stockhausen, I
 >> channeled cries and whispers,
 everything through the viola in
 this one take. The sound, the music, is something I
 >> heard before; I've
 taken the right track, which was stunning
 >> and I dreamed of the bow coupled to
 the viola, replete with
 >> cries and
 whispers. We worked for hours, produced new video,
 >> audio, and stills; we used radio,
 Alpine zither, and viola;
 >> we
 recorded everything, even the secret transmissions of the
 >> equipment itself.
 email archive http://sondheim.rupamsunyata.org/
 web http://www.alansondheim.org / cell
 music: http://www.espdisk.com/alansondheim/
 current text http://www.alansondheim.org/sw.txt
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