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RE: Terry Rileys' mysterious French engineer tape loop innovator

It's been one of the Schroedinger's cat solutions in the box that is my
thought here. 

I bought the new release of Gift in the hopes that the liner notes would
tell all, that he would expand on the story.
"There was this guy, Claude...."

I wrote him an email (Riley) asking about this a decade ago when I got the
set but I imagine he gets an awful lot of email and has to winnow them out.

A nicer interpretation that I cling to is that if the idea had been 
in his mind, then the facilitator would be negligible to him. And Riley did
something amazingly dramatically and unexpectedly beautiful with it. And I
owe him for that. 

But thank you for going where I wouldn't let my thoughts go and enabling 
canvassing of opinion/collection of knowledge


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Walker [mailto:looppool@cruzio.com] 
Sent: Sunday, 26 October 2014 3:58 PM
Subject: Terry Rileys' mysterious French engineer tape loop innovator

*Am I the only one who things it's perhaps a bit dodgy that Terry Riley
hasn't researched who this ** **mystery technician was to help him do his
tape loops? He was there. 
He'd certainly know how
to research the guy's name.
**It seems to me that he needs almost equal credit for inventing the
technique and I can't help but wonder ** **if Riley doesn't ever want his
identity known for ego because he wants sole credit for the creation of 
method of making music.
**Am I just being too cynical and judgemental about this bit of history
**I'm honestly not sure if I am or not.**
**I'd love your opinions.**
**Rick Walker*

IVODNE posted the following:

Hi all

This is a longish post because I'm posting text from sources at the end.

The "Fifth Business" of live looping is the anonymous French technician 
Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française who implemented Riley's desire for an
Echoplex with a long delay as a pair of twinned machines with an cabled

Riley's genius was in conceiving of the utility of the long duration
regenerative loop (he had worked with prerecorded long loops in Mescalin
Mix), and equally importanly, on its realisation, he immediately knew what
could be done with it in terms of performance - he shifted from the idea of
a cut-up version of Chet Baker's jazz to what we now know to be
live-looping. That's what great artists do. Look what Matisse did with the
idea of cutouts. And there's a certain wow emotion I think everyone here
remembers getting the first time of becoming aware of the possibilities of
Riley's "phantom band" in their own praxis.

But the anonymous French technician, he keeps on returning to my mind, 
his identity - he wasn't surprised by the request (he hadn't heard of the
Echoplex) but thought about it and presented a solution.

We know that for more than a decade previously the GRM under Schaeffer had
been experimenting with such things as the Morphophone for experimenting
with delays, and the amazing tempophon with spinning heads that could do
real time pitch shifting with heads that rotated in the same or opposite
direction of the tape to make the apparent speed of the head at tape slower
or faster for the same moment in time. Now if this anonymous engineer 
in Paris for ORTF, then he will certainly have known of it, and may have
even worked there. Given the number of experimental art musicians with a 
job, he may have even been a musique concrete practitioner himself.

I've not been able to figure out who he was, with all the online material
available. I made a ridiculously long short list by getting the name of
every French sound engineer associated with ORTF around then (I was going 
try to write to them), but that wasn't much help as with the number of
possible identifiable addresses for each name the line of research kind of
petred out.

So that's about it really. Who is that guy? Look at the extracts under the

If anyone is interested in New York, Ken Dewey's archives for the period 
available to look in. It includes his accounts and correspondence, so the
name of the engineer might be in there

Alternatively anyone in Paris could inquire if employment or contractual
records at ORTF go back that far.

If there's anyone in the looping community looking for a research project
for an honours or masters project in musicology it might be an intereting

Of course someone may know who it is, but the name is nowhere on the
internet and I am tired of seeing this blacksmith to the gods go without a



 From SF Tape Music Center by Berstein

Riley: Ken got me into a small recording studio at the Sarah Bernhardt
Theater in Paris. We took Chet Baker and his hand in. and I gave him some
ideas about what to record. Mainly. I wanted him to play, a modal piece, 
they picked So What? by Miles Davis. I told them to play the solos
separately, without the whole hand. So that I could cut it up and put it
back together later. And so this was the first project I?d done in two
years. Up until that point I had not been in a studio. I had not had any
equipment, nothing. So it was very exciting for me to finally hit something
that I could put my teeth into and feel real exhilarated about working on.

Bernstein: Was the studio part of the French National Radio?

Riley: Yes, it was the French radio, but they had studios in different
places. It just happened to he the Sarah Bernhardt studio where we did the
recording and used their studios for mixing.

Bernstein: And they- showed you a way to do tape delay?

Riley: Yes, the recording engineer . . . it was funny because I had 
Mix and the Echoplex loop in my mind. I think I first asked the engineer,
?Do you have an Echoplex?" and he said. "No.? So I said, ?Well I want this
kind of sound: RRRRRRRRrrrrrRRRRRR that?s got a long loop, and do you know
how you can do that?" and he said, ?Oh, yes!" He stretched the tape between
two tape recorders and voili! and I thought, oh, this is incredible, 
what I want.

Bernstein: I really like the way you use tape delay in The Gift.

Riley: I used some small tape loops, of course, and John Graham's voice. 
It was interesting because I was working with an engineer who was a very
straight guy in a white jacket, you know [laughs] who looks like he?s
wearing a lab coat. I had to tell him what I was trying to do without 
my hands on the machine, which is a little bit frustrating. But it was so
wonderful to have really high quality, even though in those days I guess it
was mono, hut just to have these really high-quality machines to work with,
where you really could hear what you were recording.

Notes to the Gift by Riley
The accumulation technique hadn?t been invented yet and it got invented
during this session. I was asking the engineer, describing to him the kind
of sound I had worked with in Mescalin Mix [an earlier tape composition]. I
wanted this kind of long, repeated loop and I said ?can you create 
like that?? He got it by stringing the tape between two tape recorders and
feeding the signal from the second machine back to the first to recycle
along with the new incoming signals. By varying the intensity of the
feedback you could form the sound either into a single image without delay
or increase the intensity until it became a dense chaotic kind of sound . .
. The engineer was the first to create this technique that I know of. This
began my obsession with time-lag accumulation feed-back.

 From Terry Riley's In C by Robert Carl

"Ken rented an old chateau in the Valdoinois, south of Paris. All the 
and everybody lived in it while the show was being put together. 
There was a big barn connected to the chateau. We rehearsed in the bam I'd
come to the chateau at night and bring back the tapes I?d been working on.
We'd listen to them, and the actors would try to get a sense of how to
relate to the music. Occasionally Chet and the band would come out to the
chateau and we'd have a full rehearsal with everybody. Ken would watch the
whole thing and would try to get the actors to interact more with the
musicians, and try to get the musicians to be more involved with the

Riley decided to use his looping procedure as the basic compositional
technique, returning to electronic media for the first time in a couple of
years. [...] Dewey had brought in a French technician from the National
Radio (ORTF) to aid with the final mix, Riley describes what happened next:
?I described the effect [of echoing similar to Mesealtn Mix] to the French
engineer, a very straight guy in a white coat, who fooled around and ended
up hooking two tape recorders together. Boy! 
When I heard that sound it was just what I wanted What you do is connect 
tape recorders. The first one is playing back, the second recording, the
tape stretched across the heads of both. As this machine records, it feeds
back to the other machine, which plays back what it?s added. It keeps
building up... ? What Riley had discovered was a setup he would use for the
next decade in solo performance, one of the first major instances of
interactive real-time electronic music. He called it the ?time-lag
accumulator.? It allowed looping, but now with the precise time interval
between the initial sound and its echo, defined by the length of tape
separating the playback from record heads. It also allowed for controlled
layering of sounds, critically in real time. By making the decision to also
record the performers individually, Riley created a rich inventory of
materials that he could then combine and elaborate into an entirely new

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