Line Out Music & the City at Night

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Jazz Diaspora: Let's Take It Outside Pt. 2

Posted by on Thu, May 9, 2013 at 12:14 PM

If you want to think about music in terms of "models of similar, interval-preserving, registrally uninterpreted pitch-class and metrically durationally uninterpreted time-point aggregate arrays,” then you really should consult the lifework of Milton Babbitt. Mr. Babbitt is one of the grandfathers of modern electronic music and has left behind an immense career to enjoy and interpret. His contributions to music, the teaching of music and their contemporary implications are worth your scrutiny. No Babbitt = no Aphex Twin? You decide.

Kaoru Abe's career, by contrast, was very short but has left an indelible mark on free music and hard-edged improvisation. A fierce saxophonist in line with Albert Ayler, Peter Brötzmann, Frank Lowe, and other frontline free music players, Abe's work in the early '70s preceded and predicated the burgeoning Japanese noise music proliferation of the late '80s and early '90s. His terrifying squalls fall squarely into lease-breaking territory. Play this stuff loud enough and you will be evicted from your apartment in no time—or, at least, the police will show up to find out whom you are murdering.

Speaking about early experiments with the then-new synthesizers, Babbit said, "I could change certain qualities of a tone while keeping other qualities, like the pitch, consistent. I could hear what I was playing as I was playing it, using trial and error. We had no precedent and we were extrapolating from no known theory. Theories about what could be heard and what couldn't be heard were essentially wrong because they had never been tested in those conditions."

Although Abe was extrapolating from known theories, he leaves behind formalities and his playing becomes purely emotive, the sounds of a screaming soul. In his own words he was seeking "sound that stops the capacity for judgment." Two disparate starting points and two different ends that test the ideas of what can or cannot be heard as music. You decide.

This mash up of Babbitt / Abe by DJ Bold Mushroom is a terrific alignment of the cerebral academic approach to electronic synthesis and the holistic art of fire-breathing improvisation:


Comments (1) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
4Shadows 1
Love the mash-up. The difference between music and noise is a matter of opinion.
Posted by 4Shadows on May 11, 2013 at 4:42 PM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy