Monday, January 26, 2009

An interview with Trevor Wishart - pt.3

by Matteo Milani, Federico Placidi - U.S.O. Project, January 2009

(Continued from Page 2)

USO: What are your thoughts about the spatialisation issue?

TW: In the 70s I worked in an analogue 4-track. But then the 4-track technology died. Since then I have been cautious about using any spatialisation procedure beyond stereo, as I don’t want my work to be dependent on a technology which might not last. I’m also concerned with the average listener, who will not go to a concert, or a special institution with complex spatialisation facilities. Most people will listen to music on headphones or domestic hifis. So the music must work in this context. With diffusion, however, I can expand the stereo work, using the diffusion process to reinforce and expand the gestures within the music. My current piece will probably be in 8-tracks, partly for aesthetic reasons, - it is based on recognizable human speech, and I would like the speech ‘community’ to surround the audience – and partly because 8-track is, perhaps, future-proof, being essentially 4 times stereo! I’m excited by the multichannel spatialisation systems being developed at the moment, but I would like to see the development of very cheap, high quality loudspeakers, to make these technologies accessible to smaller (normal) venues, and to composers like me, who work at home.


USO: How should your music be performed (by you or any other sound artist) in live context?

TW: With the pure electro-acoustic works, the (stereo) pieces should be diffused over many stereo pairs. I provide basic diffusion scores if I am not diffusing the pieces myself.


USO: What do you think about the structural approach in music composition? Do you think it could be helpful to shape tools for computer aided composition in order to speed up the composer's work?

TW: Absolutely essential, there is no music without structure. But computer-aided composition is something for commercial music and film, where we don’t want to stray from known pathways, so we’re happy to encapsulate those in an algorithm. For art music, I want to hear how another person shapes materials in order to bring me a musical experience. I’m not interested in hearing the output of an algorithm, though, of course, algorithms might be used on a small scale to help shape particular events.


USO: Is your academic career helped you to expand your knowledge about your way of composing?

TW: Yes. Because I was studying Chemistry at Oxford, when I changed subject to Music it was into one of the most conservative music departments in the UK, But I’m glad I was therefore brought into contact with music from the middle ages to the early 1900s and taught about the many different approaches composers have taken to organizing their materials, over hundreds of years.


USO: In your music is there any technical or inspirational reference to composers of the past?

TW: I don’t think so. OS, should I say, not yet.


USO: What are your near future projects?

TW: My present project, a 3 year residency, involves recording the speaking voices of many people across the community in the North East of England. I have recorded in schools, old peoples’ centres, pubs and homes. I wish to capture people speaking naturally, and to collect together a diverse range of vocal types – different ages, from 4 to 93, gender, and sheer vocal quality. My intention is to make an electro-acoustic piece of about one hour, in 4 ‘acts’, which plays on both the uniqueness of each speaker, and on the common features of the voice we all share. The piece must be comprehensible to the local community, particularly to those people whose voices I recorded (few of whom have any special interest in experimental music!), but also to an international concert audience, where I cannot assume that the listeners will understand English.

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www.trevorwishart.co.uk
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