For this second issue of Interviews, Featured Contributor Barbara Golden dishes up some 40 “Conversations” with her guests on The Crack o’ Dawn, the radio show she has hosted since 1984 on KPFA in Berkeley, California. Excerpts from The Video Archive of the Electroacoustic Music, coordinated by Eric Chasalow and Barbara Cassidy, and interviews by Julieanne Klein, Sarah Peebles, Bijan Zelli and Kalvos & Damian round out the issue.
With this issue the CEC is also very pleased to announce the launch of a brand new website design, with important enhancements to the layout and appearance, major ameliorations to the site’s navigability and improved access to archived materials.
As with the previous Interviews issue, eContact! 10.2, the conversations and interviews in this issue are historically instructive, entertaining and provocative, and offer insight into past, present and future developments of the entire gamut of styles and genres that fall under the larger field of electroacoustics. From discussions of working methods, compositional and æsthetic interests to technical descriptions and explanations of individual works and projects to anecdotes and stories (maybe even a little gossip!), there is something for every reader here: researcher or musicologist, student or educator, casual listener or die-hard fan of electroacoustics alike.
Crack o’ Dawn, hosted by ex-housewife/schoolteacher, multi-disciplinary artist, performer, writer, singer, cook (and more!) Barbara Golden, has been the barometer of the experimental music scene for more than 25 years: pretty much anyone who has performed or been performed in the San Francisco Bay Area has at one time or another been a guest on this late-night radio show on KPFA in Berkeley, California. Her “Conversations at the ‘Crack o’ Dawn’” are an excellent resource to the understanding and appreciation of the major currents, trends and milestones in experimental music in the past three decades, and of the artistic and research preoccupations of a broad range of artists who have made significant contributions to these developments. Since Barbara began the show in 1984, she has maintained a flexible format that varies according to the guests on the show. Some of these “conversations” are straight-ahead “interviews” (Maggi Payne, Mark Trayle, Susan Stone, Rhys Chatham, Chris Brown), others were telephone conversations (La Monte Young, the seven-hour Rzewski-thon) and some included or were entirely based around live performances (Antimatter, Paul Dresher, Cenk Ergün).
The insights and information revealed as artists candidly discuss their artistic processes, research, collaborations and projects are part of what makes interviews so fascinating, not to mention valuable as historical documents. Although perhaps more evident in the past half-century, technological progress and artistic evolution have perhaps always co-existed in a sort of symbiotic relationship, each feeding into and off of the other in a vacillating cause and effect relationship, one that is ultimately of mutualistic benefit. In some cases, singular works are inseparably linked to particular technological developments, such as Turenas, a landmark composition using FM Synthesis, by John Chowning (interviewed here by Bijan Zelli). This cause and effect relationship is also very evident in the interviews found in “The Video Archive of the Electroacoustic Music.” Eric Chasalow and Barbara Cassidy began this project with the intention of documenting the history of electroacoustic music since the 1950s as seen from the first-person perspective. Video interviews with some of the pioneers of electronic music, among them Bebe Barron, Max Matthews, Milton Babbitt, Pauline Oliveros and Paul Lansky, give first-hand insight into many of the key developments, instruments and practices of electronic music since the 1950s. In an interview with Kalvos & Damian, Clarence Barlow also addresses this tight relation between composition and technology: his development of Autobusk is the direct outgrowth of a methodical thinking perfectly suited to using the computer as a compositional tool.
Through the vast changes in technologies, studios and their equipment, performance and æsthetic interests in the larger history of electroacoustics, the voice has remained perhaps the most common acoustic instrument used in conjunction with electronics. Continuing on from her doctoral research into works using voice and live/interactive electronic music 1[1. Portions of Klein’s 2007 Doctoral thesis were revised for publication in eContact! 10.4 (October 2008). See Klein, “Voice and Live Electronics.”], soprano Julieanne Klein is interviewing a number of people on the subject, including German composer Karlheinz Essl and Austrian performer, composer and improviser Franziska Baumann. Both of these artists have been working for many years on perfecting interfaces to control gestures, sounds and even performances of works, and both artists are known for developing projects involving improvisation and composition in varying proportion. Baumann has developed a Sensorglove to be able “to control [her] voice and manipulate sound and spatial articulations through gesture in real time, while keeping any devices and/or controllers close to the body.” Essl has been “designing and disseminating [various] freeware software libraries / environments for real-time composition, live performance and sound design” (Klein) to assist the composer-performer in live and improvised settings using acoustic instruments and electronics. Joan La Barbara, well-known as a champion performer of New Music since the early 70s, talks with Kalvos & Damian about her work with such composers as Philip Glass, John Cage and Larry Austin, but also about her own compositions, some of which incorporate improvisation, while others involve multi-tracking or processing of the voice.
Questions of cultural identity and community come to mind when reading the interviews with Shahrokh Yadegari (by Bijan Zelli), Daniel Goode and George Lewis (both by Kalvos & Damian). Yadegari’s background is an even mixture of traditional Iranian poetry and musics and electronic music, while American clarinettist Goode only later developed an interest in Balinese gamelan music. Similar to the technology vs. æsthetics relation mentioned above, these interviews show the impact that familiarity with or working in two separate culture spheres have in the development of an individual artistic approach. Certain aspects of Lewis’ work are the result of a convergence of the predominantly black AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, which he joined in 1971) and the predominantly “all-white notion of American experimentalism.” The AACM’s goal to develop “hybrid strategies that combined, re-contextualised, collaged” would seem to define the result of this confluence in his work, both as a composer-improviser and as an educator.
We are also fortunate to be able to include Sarah Peebles’ interview with Heidi Grundmann, co-Founder of KunstRadio, broadcast on Austrian Radio since 1987. With over 30 years of working in the cultural industry behind her, she is an important source of information about the trials and tribulations of a culture industry worker — and a woman — employed in a large, cultural institution, as well as the changes to and within the cultural industry — not to mention how people in the industry adjusted to these changes.
The Interviews page in The CEC’s WIKI has also been updated and expanded to include more links to pages, sites and print publications where interviews with a range of composers and performers are listed. And finally, with an update on his 1995 article about the Norwegian electroacoustic community, Jøran Rudi writes this issue’s Community Reports column on “Technology-Based Sonic Arts in Norway.”
We hope you enjoy this issue and encourage you to also visit SONUS.ca to hear works by authors and artists found in this issue.
5 April 2010