[NetBehaviour] Digital Piano somewhere near (the blues)

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Wed Oct 3 23:04:02 CEST 2018

it's been taking me a while, not sure why, maybe just time vanishing and the summer slowly fading. but I had meant to
respond to and thank Alan Sondheim for putting up these two extraordinary piano pieces, mentioned in his September 2 mail (below).
I was in the countryside in Germany at the time, just having taking up lessons in painting earlier in the summer, our first plein air
workshop coinciding with the moon eclipse back in late July.  I read Alan, I try to always read even though there are so many poems and writings
i cannot find or feed on them all, but that particular music struck a deep chord, also about pain and the potential dereliction of it all, I was reading 
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing's book at the time, obsessively also looking at that image of the burnt, desolate, defeated forest on the cover of her book

<Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins>

the german translation, "Der Pilz am Ende der Welt: Über das Leben in den Ruinen des Kapitalismus", had just appeared, and i found it in the last bookstore left in the region. So I read Tsing on foragers, who roam these forests following the scent of this matsutake, and listen to these piano currents and temperaments, and no, I am not sure i hear an outside or other noise, as you imply Alan, I hear your hands on these keys, and while I got also carried on a wave, by the string sound of the first abstract piece, which had a fractured poisoned liturgical quality to me, a liturgy to ghosts or squelled voices in those raided forests; but the second piece, the "blues" piece, threw me into a really dark corner.  I thank you for that, it was after all, also, a way to reflect on what someone like Tsing, foraging for matsutake, might mean by survival relations and a kind of "Waldwissen - ein Wissen das nirgends aufgezeichnet ist."  And then again, how do things relate, and become assemblages known or perceived..... available to us/everything, also here, across network, behaviors? 
Tsing speaks near the end of something (an old word) that existed in the past - "latente Allemende", it rings like a swiss or alemannic word that i did not know. In the translation the english term offered is 'latent commons', not a strong translation.  The music, in this case, for me functioned as a walkway, into those ghostly and lost areas.

with regards
Johannes Birringer

Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com>
Sent: 02 September 2018 02:36
Subject: [NetBehaviour] Digital Piano

Digital Piano


Azure has a new Casio Privia PX-160 digital piano. I recorded
two short pieces on it, with a Zoom H4 behind me, about 2 meters
away. I wanted to pick up room noise, the air conditioners in
the building, whatever traffic sounds might be present. I wanted
these short pieces to sound solitary. I wanted them to sound as
if they were somewhere near the blues but somewhere else nearer
the pain of AmericanLife. So I set them thus. There's also
construction in the building. Noise is constant here, day in,
night out. Constant. It's impossible to hear anything clearly
except through a wash of derelict sound. It's just built that
way and it builds me that way as well. It's anchored to our
lives here, this sound. So now you can hear it too, it permeates
everything. It's not loud, but it's not the sound of the city.
It's the sound of collapse of AmericanLife. Did I already say
that? I already said that.

The piano can play different temperaments, different intervals.
It can be set for non-european scales. It can be set for
natural. It can play strings and concert simultaneously. It can
adjust for different touches. Internally, it possesses analog
hammers that connect digitally in a variety of ways. Even with
the piano turned off, you hear the hammers. You always hear the
hammers. They're not noise, they're not loud, but they're the
sound of production. The sound of production of sound. Analog
instruments always have these undercurrents, there's always
something else going on, something contributing to, forming, the
sound you've always wanted to hear. And you may not realize it,
but the sound you've wanted to hear is always accompanied by
these other sounds, which you've always wanted to hear as well.
Which you've always expected to hear. As they make music with
their sounds.

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