[NetBehaviour] Digital Piano somewhere near (the blues)

Alan Sondheim sondheim at gmail.com
Thu Oct 4 01:30:32 CEST 2018

Hi Johannes and everyone,

First, thank you greatly for your comments. And I wonder if Tsing's
book relates to dark ecology (Timothy Morton and others); certainly I
share your pessimism here, and the relationship to the music, the
cover of the book, even the eclipsemoon image. I'm trying to find
books that are not as turgid as Morton, that are as clear as the
destruction we're witnessing...

And does this relate, do the Netbehaviour / Furtherfield participants
think, to the matrix of relations described by the exhibitions and
discussions here and in the gallery?

In any case, I wish Morton had been less seemingly self-obsessed, more
accessible; I found my own emotions lost in the tangle of roiling
theory. -

Best, Alan

On 10/3/18, Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:
> 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
> http://www.alansondheim.org/mtl265.jpg
> http://www.alansondheim.org/piano1.mp3
> http://www.alansondheim.org/piano2.mp3
> 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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