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WHAT COULD WE DO BETTER?
I think that the largest thing that hurts us so far as a performance art is
the 'shoe gazer' factor.
What we are doing is incredibly difficult from a multi-tasking standpoint
and there is a strong tendency
to constantly be looking away from the audience to push buttons and tweak
Frequently, I'll watch loopers bend over and tweak something and, as an
audience member, I can't even tell
what changed to the sound.
There is, consequently, a lot of lack of eye contact between a lot of
performers and the audience. Eye contact has
nothing, of course, to do with the way our music sounds, but it does
radically increase the emotional connection factor
of any performance.
John Whooley's performance at Y2K3 is particularly exemplary in this
respect. John even had a very long chord
and loopers attached to his belt so that he could actually go out into the
audience to engage people. Of course, not everyone
will have the capacity to do this, but the point is, he was very engaging
the audience and consequently, very fun to watch.
I have noticed that anyone who does anything visual, from George
lighting up his hands and his trumpet with leds
to the several people who used airsynths or aireffects or d-beam
to alter their sounds seemed to add to just the purely
visual interest of the show. Oddly enough, I found it more fun to watch
the people who had complex racks with lots of blinking gear
if their gear was visible to the audience (as opposed to facing away from
them). A few people sat sideways which allowed this
view instead of facing the audience straight away. In a static visual
performance, I found it more interesting to actually see what the knobs
they were twiddling and the lights blinking, commensorately. I don't know
if I'm in the minority on this one or not and would love to hear feedback.
There were, of course, people like Gary Regina, who just played different
instruments seated in a chair which made for a compelling
performances. He also made a lot of eye contact with the audience and
seemed cognizant of them.
Let's see, oh yeah...................I found some people who used drum
machines tended to fall into two categories of things that bugged me a bit.
Either the sound was so static that it just felt too canned or people
overprogrammed their drum machines so that they were distracting.
Simple a solution as it is, I personally tended to like it when people
use filtering to change the sound of their preprogrammed drums.
Someone and I forget who at Y2K3, ended their performance by suddenly
filtering the sound into telephone EQs as they faded it out.
It really took on a cool dimension and broke the trance of the typical fade
I also thought that people would make individual pieces go on way too long.
Really getting into a piece that takes time to unfold is a really
valid approach to music, but I think shows would be far more fascinating if
their were more and shorter 'songs' or 'pieces' to beak the performance up.
I also tended to like it when there were interactions between musicians,
including some people just playing in real time to the loops that were
Lately, I"ve become particularly enamored of duets where one person plays
and the other person loops and processes that
performance...............neither person being able to controll what the
other person does so that it becomes a living growing thing. I've end
thought about producing a small festival with that as the common metaphor
and approach. Does this interest anyone else? The Bay Area Voice and
Electronics Thingee that Matt Davignon produced was a wonderful case in
point for this style of improv. I was really fascinated by the improvs
between acapella vocals and looper/processors that I saw there. It was
pretty fun to particpate too.
alright, that's it for now.