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Spinning the score; A provocative stance on DJ-ing.
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Kassen
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:33 pm    Post subject: Spinning the score; A provocative stance on DJ-ing. Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

A few years ago I asked a old friend of mine who was studying musicology at the time while also performing on the piano and harpsychord and manging a "Bach apreceation society"; "why do you still feel the need to play those old pieces? They have been performed better then you ever will and recorded in high quality, people could listen to those and you could play your own work".

His reponce was as surprising to me as it was stimulating; he felt there was so much to those pieces that merely listening wasn´t enough to understand them fully, a more active stance was requiered.

I understood what he said, but couldn´t make active use of it at the time so I mentally filed it for later use.

Later use might be now. I just realised that for modern compositions where formal scores are unavailabele and arguably impossilble in this post-dub era where the desk is a fundamentally important instrument itself and the only "score" available to both the listener and often the composer himself is the recording, the equivalent might be DJ-ing.

DJ-ing and in particular modern, non-realtime, variants such as the use of Live, Acid or Tracktor to make mixes for online distribution requires a different ear; more attention to how accents shift and keys in order to try and avoid clashes and particularly to make something new out of something existing.

How do you feel about this? Do you listen differently when planing a dj set? Do you pay attention to what tracks your own work gets mixed with if you publish? Was my friend, who is called Jasper, even right in your opinion? Does the possible later use in mixes affect your compositional choices?

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I can see "remixing" my own material using a tool like live, or perhaps Kyma, but I wouldn't SPEND time working on someone else's stuff unless it was part of a collaboative project. One time when I was very young, before access to synthesizers, I was doing tape music. I recorded an LP of a Beethoven symphony spun backwards. It sounded great, but I never felt good about it. It seemed dishonest to me.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
I can see "remixing" my own material using a tool like live, or perhaps Kyma, but I wouldn't SPEND time working on someone else's stuff unless it was part of a collaboative project. One time when I was very young, before access to synthesizers, I was doing tape music. I recorded an LP of a Beethoven symphony spun backwards. It sounded great, but I never felt good about it. It seemed dishonest to me.


Good point, in many ways "one way traffic" is objectionable, but considder that Jasper has no way to tell Bach how he feels, yet is still clearly getting something from it.

Spending time in this context may not be that big a deal; often the process is in real time and during this both the audience and the artist is feeling that the artist is expressign himself, showing a side of himself or at the very least is a trusted guide.

You yourself do considder it worth your time to point to artists you feel worthwhile and give them a context. Aside form any "score" sides to this (which I still think is a very interesting topic for debate seperate from your vision), isn´t that comparable?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

There is something interesting about digging into a piece and playing it - you learn little intricacies and subtle things that a listener might not notice or fully appreciate. When I was studying classical piano I found several composers much more enjoyable to play than (for me at least) to actually listen to - and of course, many pieces that were great to listen to and so much better when getting inside them. So I understand your friend's comment in that sense.

Then again, I think some people can 'just' listen and appreciate those elements without digging in.

I don't really play classical music anymore - haven't for a very long time. When I play music - I prefer to sit down and play what's in my head and work from there. If I was spending hours a day (as I used to way back when) - then yes, I could definitely see myself still sitting down and pulling out music or learning things by ear as I used to.

As far as picking records for a certain dj mix - I can see that same sort of careful analysis of a track - and it's impact on the mix and on how that will affect the intended listeners. As far as dj'ing live - I can see that being very similar to playing in a live band - there's feedback between the audience/dancers/whatever and the dj/band - it's a two way communication. In both situations the dj/band is somewhat in control (and somewhat following the vibe of the crowd) of where the feelings are going to go next with the next track. In this context - songs that are one way when listened to at home on headphones can take on a completely different experience when 'live' in a club.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Sure, I can see that there can be real craft and even an art to DJ'ing, but I'm not into it. It doesn't do anything for me. If there is a electronic music concert and the artists have "DJ" in their name, I loose all desire to go, but, in the interests of expanding my consciousness, I often go anyhow.

For the most part, DJs are used by clubs as cheaper replacements for cover bands. This is a loss, IMHO.

I know there are some great turntableists, but they are beyond DJs and into something else. I can dig them, but I've never seen one in person.

Some people load up Live, or FL with samples and off the shelf presets and play them live on a laptop. To me this is a bit more interesting than DJ stuff, but it often leave me very cold. I have hope that this will evolve over time into more interesting music. We have a few laptop musicians at electro-music 2005.

Interesting about that. I received a note from someone who bought tickets to the event. She thanked me for "keeping the DJs at bay". We didn't do that intentionally; they just didn't want to come.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Just for the record, I have listened to two of Kassen?s own "DJ-sets". Only Kassen himself would probably call this DJ-sets. To me this sounds like soundart/radioart/tapemusic/whatever yu call it.. and it is just fab. Extremely well done. But are these DJ-sets? I think this is something else on another level altogether.

I think I have said this before. but.. these "sets" are more like soundtracks for some cool aid acid test or a shroom gathering party.. or an art gallery event.. but a DJ-set? Shocked Well, now I am appointing myself as the DJ-cop numero uno.. and I am ging to kick DJ ass until those sick critters deliver Kassen goods. You hear me? Now, this is what we want and we want it now!
Cool

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 7:27 am    Post subject: Re: Spinning the score; A provocative stance on DJ-ing. Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
"why do you still feel the need to play those old pieces? They have been performed better then you ever will and recorded in high quality, people could listen to those and you could play your own work"

I am really sorry to say this and I can only excuse you because of your young age but that question seems really......not adequate to an otherwise seemingly brilliant boy like you. Do you think to be such a genius that playing music by Mozart, Coltrane or any other musical genius could not put a smile on your face Question don't you think to have anything to learn from others Question Of course I will never be able to play anything better than already played but that does not stop me to play it and maybe I can even improve myself and of course this does not stop me from creating my own music.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Let's be fair to Kassen. He didn't say this, his friend Jason did. He's using it as a point of discussion.

I would like to hear Kassen's "DJ Sets". They sound good...

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 8:01 am    Post subject: Re: Spinning the score; A provocative stance on DJ-ing. Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
I am really sorry to say this and I can only excuse you because of your young age but that question seems really......not adequate to an otherwise seemingly brilliant boy like you.


Hey! only Mosc can call me young, I´m getting grey, you know?
:¬p. "brilliant little boys" tend to get there by continually asking questions, fairly provocative ones, at times. This quote came from a larger conversation where we were trying to understand the larger influences in the other´s musical partice. It was all done with smiles.

Quote:

Do you think to be such a genius that playing music by Mozart, Coltrane or any other musical genius could not put a smile on your face Question



No No No NO NO! where did that come from? I have and play quite a bit of clasical music, I use examples from classical music on this board to support my little ideas on composition. Actually, to put it all together; for a while I used to open my D&B dj-sets with Seance´s "dance macarbre", I had found a track that build from lfo modulation to d&b and that followed the groove exactly.

Quote:

don't you think to have anything to learn from others Question Of course I will never be able to play anything better than already played but that does not stop me to play it and maybe I can even improve myself and of course this does not stop me from creating my own music.


I blame this paragraph on myself, I realy should have been more clear. I like classical music, particularly Bach, who was under debate principally that night because Jasper plays his work a lot. I was trying to gain a deeper understanding of how Jasper related to music and trying to to that by asking provocative questions. A bit socrat-ean (is that a word?).

I hope this clears it up; I like classical music and I like turntables. I also know all of the mistakes I made, "brilliant" and "genius" are, erm, well, missplaced as word here.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
Just for the record,


Indeed! let´s do something for the record after everything it has selflessly done for us!

(erm, seriously? You are realy being far, far too kind, thanks.)

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

...seriously..
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
Let's be fair to Kassen. He didn't say this, his friend Jason did. He's using it as a point of discussion.

I would like to hear Kassen's "DJ Sets". They sound good...


to be totally fair, I did, but my friend Jasper did understand why I said it at the time. He´s known me for quite a while, you see....

But yeah, I meant this as a start for a discussion, I could have abstracted it all to third person too, but I think with these topics it´s good to tell how you personally relate to it since objective truth is so hard to find and perhaps no that interesting either.


Positing sets is against forum rules, but I could of cource send you a mail....

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 1:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Spinning the score; A provocative stance on DJ-ing. Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
I have and play quite a bit of clasical music

so you too still feel the need to play those old pieces Cool

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 3:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Spinning the score; A provocative stance on DJ-ing. Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
Kassen wrote:
I have and play quite a bit of clasical music

so you too still feel the need to play those old pieces Cool


Well, yeah, but only if you are willing to accept the idea that putting records on at the right moment in the right way can be "playing" a piece in some sense. Of cource within the context of DJ-ing, more so then in the context of merely listening a large portion of knowing what piece to play how and when comes from knowing the pieces very well.

Jasper and me never realy disagreed, I quoted from that discussion to get to this perspective that I´d like to discuss. I´m not trying to convince anyone of taking a certain stance towards classical music, or DJ-ing for that matter, I´m trying to see where this analogy might lead and ask how other people might deal with such things.

The lack of formal scores in electronic and computer music might influence the way we deal with favourite piece that we might want to analyse, that might be a big question, especially in the long run.

I wish I had seen the double meaning of "play" earlier in this discussion.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2005 12:00 am    Post subject: Re: Spinning the score; A provocative stance on DJ-ing. Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
Well, yeah, but only if you are willing to accept the idea that putting records on at the right moment in the right way can be "playing" a piece in some sense.

OK Very Happy I would really like to see a demonstration, no kidding Exclamation

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2005 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
"why do you still feel the need to play those old pieces? They have been performed better then you ever will and recorded in high quality, people could listen to those and you could play your own work".


Let my try to answer this, although it's a really big topic. I touches quite a few things mentioned in earlier discussions in this forum like "should I learn music theory", "why is written music esteemed higher" and "why do people play others people music at all" (and I don't mean playing the record).

I'm a pianist. I don't write music, I play with the synthesizer just for fun, so I don't consider me to be a creator of sounds. All I do is playing the piano. I play the music of other people, I'm an interpreter.

When someone writes down music you've a jump in the medium. Being a composer (now in the narrower sense like Bach, Beethoven, Stockhausen, Cage) means that you write down something you hope somebody else will interpret correctly. But just as physics is only a model of reality, the score is only a model of the music intended. There's no such thing as a perfect score, and don't try to learn a fugue by ear - or an orchestra piece. Why do composers write down their music? Because you write down things that are too complex to think of in your head, and you can hand it over to somebody else. Do composers always know what they are writing down? No. A scientific formula is often not understood completely right away, although it's correctly calculated. Same thing with compositions. When you compose in a way, that you write down things too complex for yourself, you probably can't sing it yourself - you get the help of a musician. Every interpreter understands the score differently. There's no such thing as "the piece". A Bach fugue exists in its absolute form only in the score. The music that you hear is done by somebody else. This is where my work starts. Playing other people's music is not a thing of understanding it better (though in the end you do) and it's not a thing of doing it better than somebody else (which, in the end, you probably don't do), but you make the iece your own.

When I play a Beethoven Sonata I play Beethoven but at the same time it's me whose playing, I'm making music. I'm one with the music, the work I put in there to learn it and my interpretation of it makes it my music. When I start playing a really big pieces, say 30 pages, in the beginning I don't have the overview and there are technical difficulties: I read from line to line. After a while the piece starts to shrink, and very slowly I learn the piece. After having played a Sonata of 30 minutes in a concert it feels for me, that I played one big thing but I couldn't tell how long it was (my arms can, sometimes). The whole piece is there, in a nutshell, in my head, and I know it by heart, that goes along in the process. I don't learn pieces by heart to show of, or because everybody else is, it's my piece in the end. By Beethoven. It can take easily 100 hours to learn a late Beethoven Sonata. It's my piece then and I don't feel any less a musician although I don't compose.

What I actually earn my money with is not playing Beethoven but playing the music of today's composers (again in the strict sense). They just happen to write for piano and clarinet and whatever and can't play it. At least not all three at the same time. Laughing

Sorry for this long post. Seb
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2005 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Great post, Sebber. I would love to hear you perform in a live setting.

I dig where you are coming from. I wish I could learn to play a Mozart Sonata in any number of hours. Laughing

I can play a few Bach 2 part inventions.

Anyway, I think most of use would agree that playing music from a score is a beautiful thing. Certainly a valid art...

Interpretations of classical can be very different. I remember I really never cared for Mozart until I heard George Cleve conducting it with the San Jose Symphony. Then, for the first time the music just came alive like never before. It was lite, beautiful, clever, fun, profound and very exciting. Before I heard him play this music, I must have heard Mozart a thousand times. Still, it wasn't the same. Now, Mozart is one of my favs.

So, Sebber, do you play Chopin too? I know Kassen is a Chopin buff.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2005 9:15 am    Post subject: Re: Spinning the score; A provocative stance on DJ-ing. Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:

OK Very Happy I would really like to see a demonstration, no kidding Exclamation


There´s not that much to look at....


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2005 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Sebber, Thanks for your contribution, very well written and clearly insightfull. Your note on writing material too complex for yourself to play struck a chord with me; I think this holds special relevance for electronic music too where we will often sequence stuff out instead of playing it manually.

Please don´t apologise for writing long posts here, I think we need long posts. Thes are rich and multifaceted topics and they aren´t affected by time as much as some other topics on this site are. By tomorow a software update will be old news but scores and records and putting your emotions on paper or harddisk will be here tomorow and next decade still.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, I'm afraid I changed the topic by reacting to your first paragraph only, and you might go on with the original discussion now. Laughing

I just wanted to make clear, that playing other people's music is not like re-painting an old picture or drawing by numbers. Somehow this and what I recently read about a composer not knowing what he's doing and the other topic about classical contemporary music is considered more important (something you'll here only in Universities, but that's another thing), triggered me to write a few things down because I thought there are some misconceptions.

What I omitted though is the other reason why people write things down: they do it for others to read them. Would we still listen to Beethoven if we only had one record? I think, musicologists would. I think, the fact that other people try to make new interpretations all the time helps the music to stay alive.

Something that btw kills contemporary classical music, because people rather play and hear a "proved genius" like Beethoven or a newcomer whose work 99 in 100 times will be forgotten next year. This will happen to "tape music-DJing" as well.

Now you might say Beethoven (last time I mentioned his name here) couldn't record his music, he had to write it down, but we already have recordings from the 1920s of people who are already "classic", like Rachmaninoff. Do people stop playing his music? Do people go to concerts to see other people play their interpretations, tackle the difficulties? No, and it's quite different from a David Coverdale look-a-like coverband. There is a fundamental difference between music written by people to be played by other people and music we can do ourselves at home.

This doesn't mean that the music Pierre Schaeffer, yours or "Gesang der Juenglinge" is of a lesser quality than that of, ahm, Mozart.

As a perfomer I get the creeps when I read (what I sometimes do): hey, buy yourself this gear and work with machines, it's expensive at first but you don't have to pay the musicians anymore. Ain't some people see the difference anymore? It's probably not in the technique or whatever, our drumcomputers really have become so much better. It's that there's another brain you interact with.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

sebber wrote:
It's that there's another brain you interact with.


Yes, that´s clearly a great advantage, apreceated to various degrees by various composers. I think the arpegio is a good example of this; some guidelines are provided and the musicians is expected to give a apropriate interpertation to those.

I think this adds to my analogy; some experimental records come with the express encouragement to play them at various speeds according to the wishes of the listener. Gescom released a minidisc with extremely short tracks, meant to be either randomised or programed on the player (the same has been done on cd but it works less well there due to less buffer time, resulting in gaps) which comes down to the same thing.

I´m certainly not arguing recording, then releasing to vinyl is preferable to the use of musicians and scores, but I do find there are some interesting analogies worth exploring here. Clearly we should choose the technique that suits our compositional vison but it´s somewhat established that we can´t notate everything in a way readable by people. Frankly; not everything is playable by people, yet we might still like a process within which to analyse those pieces.

See where I´m coming from?

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

sebber wrote:
Ain't some people see the difference anymore?

many are so acquainted to "canned" music that they feel it sounds better than live music. scary but true Exclamation
btw nice posts Sebastian Very Happy

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks, Seraph Very Happy

Kassen, try to look at interpretation as a remix. Everyone looks at a piece from a different angle and makes a certain point. I don't know if I got you right, but it's not in the way how to play trills or arpeggios.

I totally agree that there's music not menant to be played by other musicians - tape music, birds e.g. But playing it, wether it would be "real-time" or a record is not analyzing it. That's musicology and a totally different way to look at music. The outcome is different than a hearing experience or a "playing" experience. Musique concrete is getting analyzed this way.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

sebber wrote:

Kassen, try to look at interpretation as a remix. Everyone looks at a piece from a different angle and makes a certain point. I don't know if I got you right, but it's not in the way how to play trills or arpeggios.


I know, I have multiple versions of some pieces and those vary enormously, sometimes I prefer one verion in general, with other pieces it depends on my mood. I´m not trying to place DJ-ing in a classical context (or the other way around!), I just saw a analogy between two different ways of dealing with a piece actively instead of passively. I conciously noticed how I dealt with the structure in a different way, paying attention to areas I had previously overlooked and so I was reminded of Jasper´s remark.

If anybody is curious; what set me off in this direction was trying to layer Nick Cave´s "red right hand" with the the A-side of studio1´s "silver". THis struck me as a good plan because both borrow from dub in the way they place accents and both apeared to be fairly sollid, rithmically. Halfway into this plan I started to notice the Cave track was far less straightforward then I had imagined with shifting accents left and right that only apear to be straightforward because they are pritty good musicians.

"red right hand" was probably written out as sheet music at some point anyway, making this moot, but being in a experimental mood I went on to White Noise´s "Fire bird" which I´m fairly certain didn´t have sheet music and sounds increadibly loose. It turns out on closer inspection that it´s all actually quite tight and at a steady pase too.

All in all my little experimental mood made me notice many details I had previously missed, even if I count Cave, Voight and Debbishire amongst my favourite musicians and had heard all three pieces many, many times before. You are right, of cource, that´s it a totally different way to look at music, but part of my case is that for a lot of electronic music there simply are no sheets and in some of those cases sheet music might be impossible.

The little concept I´m presenting here is that mixing might be a interesting way to get a deeper insight into some pieces because you are dealing with it in a different way. It´s also a part of my overall strategy to link the abstract serious stuff to the realy direct stuff because that tends to give fun results. :¬)

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paul e.



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen.is this what you are essentially saying ?

since electronic music and other forms of 'new' music often cannot be communicated to other people in the form of standard notation..therefore people [players]cannot interact on an active level by reading the 'score' and playing the piece themselves...and this can be seen as a concern...because then we might worry how the piece will survive beyond the physical recording of it...

then you seem to be saying that by allowing a 'dj' or remixer to interact with the music on an active level via a turntable or Live/remix applications, we might have a way to solve this 'disconnect' between the music and the 'score'..

it seems you are proposing we discover a way to notate and create scores for music that cannot be scored on paper or traditionally.... and one way you suggest we do it is by distributing physical media like vinyl , cd's and also digital files that represent the control data, note values samples/loops etc as a way of delivering a 'score' to future players/reinterpreters...


am i off on that one?

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