Gheorghe Curelet-Balan Blog

Monday, April 23, 2007

Open Ears, Open Minds, Open Souls.

There is music that goes beyond jazz. It will hypnotize you right from the beginning and wouldn't let you go till the end. I never thought there is something like this: 100% improvisation with absolute hypnotism. On Saturday afternoon I was rewarded with such a delightful out-of-the-box listening experience during Fred Frith and Malcolm Goldstein outstanding performance presented by Perimeter Institute (as part of the Pushing the Perimeter Concert Series) and the already traditional Open Ears Kitchener Waterloo Festival of Music and Sound.

The audience witnessed unusual ways in which violin and a guitar could be played. Drumming, screeching, pinching, chiming sounds accompanied the normal sounds of the instruments. If you were thinking that the violinist should just play the violin Malcolm Goldstein will prove you wrong. He will vocalize while playing or just stop playing the violin and invoke the spirits with guttural vocal chants.

As for Fred Frith I must say that the audience was astonished about how many ways the guitar could be used to generate sounds. Different parts of guitar were used for drumming, small objects or seeds were dropped inside it followed by shaking, small sticks were used to play on the cords or on the different edges of the guitar, chains were hitting slowly the cords or were dropped in some kind of resonating metal cups, the cords were tightened and loosened while being played, objects were put on the cords or laid on the guitar to generate special sounds. At a given time the guitar was used as a violin laid on the table, at another time the cords were covered with a towel while being struck.

Even though you may have the impression that music cannot be created in this way it was something magic about it. The beginning of the performance reminded me of the Weather Part I by Michael Gordon piece. It was like sometimes one instrument was following a thought or feeling and the other one was catching up in its own improvised way.

Another times the instruments were arguing violently from the beginning or one will start with some peaceful tune and the other one will go in a continuous violent argument. Then the guttural vocals will join the instruments. Familiar tunes will pop up here and there and disappear later in some random sounds looking for some soul trail. I even recognized a well known Romanian kind of pop tune for a fraction of time. The music was composed in front of the audience.

Starting from their bare feet entry on the stage till the end of their performance, by opening their souls, Fred Frith and Malcolm Goldstein invited the audience to open ears by opening its mind.

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