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Chapter 8
turntables, bowing a Chinese violin across the arm of the record player. And, finally,
Joke Lanz cut more rapidly between different sound sources - juxtaposing rather than
layering, and working with ‘scratching’, using recordings of baby sounds and speech as
his materials.
The final set was a collaboration between all three musicians, and, during this
performance, each used samples of speech, rhythmically and timbrally distorted beats
(from rock bands to speeded-up African music), and each had a selection of LPs marked
with pieces of electrical tape - giving them direct access to ‘known’, usable sections, and
interesting samples.
When working with sample-based materials, yet more distinctions existed - for Zazie it
was important that the sounds remained recognisable to her listeners:40
If it sounds like feedback then it’s because it’s a recorded feedback... But
no, I don’t produce feedback and I don’t use any filters when I play, apart
from equalisation and what’s in the mixer... For me it’s important not to
use effects because I use so many sound sources. If you hear just one or
two minutes of a piece, of field recordings... it’s already so rich itself... why
should I add more?
Of course, that’s my opinion. I think that some people would disagree with
me - if you use filters, you can create patterns more easily and background
atmospheres as well... But, if you decide to use them, you should really
be careful that they don’t become too dominant in your piece (of course
this makes sense just if it’s not your intention to focus on effects in your
composition). I’m not against them, but I’m not interested in that. And
the more I work with field recordings I realise that it’s really important
that some sound stays recognisable to the audience, that a relation to their
identity is still kept - identity relating to sounds, sound sources and everyday
However, others adopted a different approach, using studio production techniques, effects
and sound processing to alter their materials prior to performance. Valerio Tricoli,
talking about an old project where he used CD players, instead of the Revox tape
machine with which he currently performed, described how:
My set back then was... CD players with a lot of sounds I was composing. I
had a computer at that point, so I was making sounds to use live... I really
never performed live with the computer, but I was... sound-designing stuff,
and I had two or three CD players, and I was mixing. It was mostly field
recordings, heavily processed.
See p. 230 for a more complete discussion of conceptions of sound in Improvised Music-making.
A recording of a doorbell was one of Zazie’s trademarks.