Shri Collaboration

Making a new piece with Shri for Sonic Bed_London.

(……. i think we decide to call it “PluckEhisquare_anti”)

Shri and Kaffe work every day of course, so days that are not mentioned are the ones where they are listening and processing and talking and rearranging sounds in folders and then lying in it. it’s a very open process.

Session 1: Tuesday September 12th.

Bed returned damaged from ARS Electronica, so Shri and I didn’t meet until today. We spent the afternoon talking, the best way to start a new collaboration. What a great guy, and right at the opposite end of the musical spectrum to me.

We throw around ideas on making music with no beginning and no end, music that is not about how it changes over time but about what it is doing now and now. Music that could be always changing. With a 3 month installation, here’s the chance to make music for an always changing audience, issues making it around its physicality and movement rather than melodic and rhythmic structures aside. Here we have the opportunity to make something that could change with the time of day, or even over the 3 months that the piece will be playing for. And yes, it will be playing and making itself when we are not there. New territory for him it seems,

Session 2: Wednesday September 13th.

The first time that i’ve played Bed with an acoustic musician and we go about it all day in a way that i hadn’t anticipated could possibly be as duettic as it was. I mean, Shri played and I sat in Bed and made shapes with his sounds through Bed’s fourteen speakers and it was such a gig. First time I’ve had such a duo with someone and didn’t make any sound at all.

Session 3: Friday 15th September.

The duets have already confirmed the sound field we want to work in. Bed leaps into a resonance with the double bass’s bottom E and can be made to swoop up and down the woofers in layered physicalities. Kaffe delights to be back in the world of string vibrations. The tabla too is a hit; when spun up , under and around the mattress, it reveals itself as a perfect producer of tones but in endlessly varied shapes. Shri is brilliant and precise and curious visitors are amazed.

When the action of Shri’s playing, like the hand on the skin brushing past and then the breath from some flute, punctuates a sound, the music reveals a human presence Bed hasn’t yet shown. The bayan too, yes, watery and rumbles down and under. Kaffe reprocesses and plays some of Shri’s sounds and adds and makes some layers and breaks and snatches of electronic stuff. the palette is huge.

David comes to discuss our ideas on how to play back sounds. As we now have such rich bass territories that need more control, we suggest working in 3 layers of combining folders. A bottom one combining the Basses, a mid with the mids and a top layer with the sparkle. we present him the score idea and he goes away to make it happen.


Session 4: Wednesday 20th September.

The layered play back plan has been skimmed down to 3 layers. The bottom layer will contain 5 bass folders , the middle 3 mid folders, and the top layer being a single folder that plays the frufru. David works remotley.

Shri is much more conversant with the software and he starts to do random processing of sounds spinning them around as he lies with great results. We start to turn our Closed sign to Open more often and visitors come regularly. More than useful to get their feedback,

” Ah this is a bit scary, this is too much, more of this, ah but that was so watery,….Oh but I am in movie music land. Ah ……. more please, where can I buy one?”

This has been a great project!

Kaffe and myself come from the opposite ends of the music making spectrum and that in itself was a challenge, fun and a great learning experience for both of us. Kaffe comes from a purely electronic, atonal, a-structured, machine led fabulous world of soundscapes and experiential noises and vibrations. I come from a world of song structures, multi-instrumentalism (bass, tablas, flute etc), Indian classical, Jazz, break-beat, groove, funk and drum&bass, using machines only as a recording and sequencing tool to achieve the end result of a piece of music to go on a CD or be heard live.

The point of confluence was mutual respect (first – funnily enough) and a thorough understanding of each others worlds, a need to be moved by sound – be it music in the traditional concept or tones and vibrations, and a keen sense for filmic drama in the work. From here everything was an eye-opening experience and learning for both. Sounds dramatic? – it was!!

The final outcome (which I have recently stopped calling a ‘piece’ or ‘track’) is the best of both our worlds meeting, colliding, discussing to eventually create a physical-audio experience. The music is three dimensional in dynamic and sound but also having the ‘listener/experiencer’ create the 4th and maybe even 5th dimensions within themselves by engaging with it. The ‘music’ is based on a piece of software, written by programmer David Muth, ‘almost’ randomly selecting all the sounds, tones and performances by Kaffe and myself in a self combining and ever evolving way.

In simple terms the idea is to get down to the installation, take your shoes off, lie in the bed as comfortably as possible (maybe with strangers most of the time), then let the physical-audio take charge of your senses. Most people tend to crowd around the bed imagining they totally understand what the whole thing is about – but then they lie down in it,

ah …

It works – it really works,

Shri 28/09/06 Rich Mix