Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tony Conrad's performance "Snapping the Drone"

He stays behind the white waving sheets, takes his amplified violin, turns himself toward the light source projecting his shadow back to us. Hidden behind this waving sheet, Conrad in a way stays invisible to our eyes. All we can see is the shadow of him playing the violin. The performer's presence, by mystifying it, was put in the background, while the act of listening was clearly underlined. It was all about the listening and not seeing--or mostly. If we focus our perception only on the sound itself, we'll find it almost impossible to conceive how all these varieties of sounds may come from only one instrument. Conrad does use a lot of previously recorded sounds, but almost all of them are coming from the violin itself. So it's not by chance that he chooses the violin, which is considered the queen of instruments, the one with the largest tuning range. Conrad's "fundamental sounds" are much more complex than we can imagine. They produce a variety of possibilities, from very simple and calm ones to complex and aggressive ones. The beauty lies in these combined differences. As Conrad puts it: "I like to mix these long intervals of time, along with very short ones, and put them together..."

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