Another Timbre TimHarrisonbre

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Daniel Barbiero

“I interpret 2005/1 as an analytical description of the listening situation.  The listening situation is the synthesis of aural stimuli within the listener’s flux of perception; its components are place and time and the sounds inhabiting them.

What makes the listening situation a situation per se, rather than simply an inert condition, is the participation of the listener. Thus the listening situation is a phenomenological fact, that is, a fact that arises from the world as we take it rather than from the world as given.

The synthesis of the listening situation emerges from the integration of the modalities of sound—pitch, timbre, amplitude, duration and silence—into the surrounding framework provided by the environment in which sound is apprehended.

The phenomenology of sound, in turn, resides in a reciprocal action of revealing & concealing. Attention reveals sounds, while inattention conceals them. (Herakleitos: ΦΥΣΙΣ ΚΡΥΠΤΕΣΘΑΙ ΦΙΛΕΙ. Or perhaps nature likes us to hide itself from ourselves.) What’s hidden in the sound inhabiting a place is a set of characteristics of the place at that time—the small consonances and dissonances that envelope us without our paying them any special attention.

A similar observation can be made of a musical performance. The underlying complexities of the sound produced by an instrument are often subsumed by the music that emerges from them. Just as we sometimes have to make an effort to hear our environment, we sometimes have to make an effort to hear our instruments. From this point of view, focused attention to the materiality of the instrument—to its characteristic manner of producing sound, quite apart from music—is little different from focused attention to environmental sounds.

Thus my realisation of 2005/1 involves attention to material aspects of my instrument—the double bass—as situated in a performance integrating elements of the surrounding environment, which itself makes claims to attention.

The basis for this track is a prior performance of long and overlapping tones played on double bass on a rainy morning. Pitch material consisted of chords, microtonal clusters and single open strings played with varying articulations; environmental sounds included air and road traffic, rain and birdsong. This source recording was then run through a granular synthesizer in order to bring to the foreground aspects of the sound—overtones, beats, half-hidden harmonies and dissonances--that ordinarily would only be heard, if at all, as blended parts of pitch. Listening through headphones is recommended.

What emerges, I hope, is revealed sound as the aural signature of a place and time.”

Play track   duration 6:41