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Michael Pisaro
hearing metal

order reference:   
EWR 0902
Michael Pisaro
Greg Stuart (tam-tam)

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(after Brancusi)
The 60-inch ("Mikrophonie") tam-tam is a large piece of metal, a proto-sculpture. Brancusi might have altered it: rounding and tapering the edges, making an oval instead of a circle, polishing the surface into smooth gold.
The tam-tam is also a vast sound landscape-an instrument that makes noise at the slightest provocation. A resonance is created just in the act of walking past the instrument or breathing on it ... that is, if your ear (or a microphone) is close enough to hear it. Wherever it is touched with a bow or a hand, it responds with chaotic, unpredictable complexity, never producing the same sound twice.
I have attempted to work within the givens of this landscape, to allow some of its implicit contours to reveal themselves-by collecting sounds, giving them a duration, putting them into a clear structure, and cutting a path through them with pure tones.
Sleeping Muse is something like a four-part chorale of bowed sounds, with a melody made up of long sine tones buried in the sounds.
The Endless Column is a collection of sixty extremely light, close recorded strikes, randomly ordered, but with a rising scale of sine tones mixed in, more or less within the central frequency range of the tam-tam (from 50 to 671 hz).
Sculpture for the Blind arranges eight layers of bowed sounds (which are then released) along a pattern of lengthening durations and combined with a sine tone trio, again woven into the sounds of the tam-tam.
Hearing Metal 1
is the product of close collaboration between composer and performer. The piece evolved as Greg made test recordings based on my suggestions and then sent them to me. As it happened we feel we fell into its world, in order to move it slightly towards our own.
Michael Pisaro

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