Saturday, August 19, 2006

Too Clever By Half

I Am Sitting In a Room - Alvin Lucier

Back in town after vacation, tanned rested, ready for a new post. Dig it - here's a rare one from the NWW list.

I Am Sitting In a Room is a piece rather than a song, meaning it is pretentious. In fact, this might be the most pretentious modern classical / electronic music CD I've yet heard. No small feat.

This recording consists of a guy, sitting in a room, recording his voice and playing it back. By the fifth or so time he's re-recorded his voice, it becomes indistinct. A few more times, and it is just washes of sound. Nice and relaxing, with some of the cadence of the original speech.

My biggest beef with this is that it could be about 30 minutes shorter. It goes pretty quickly from speech to sound. I get the point by then. After that, not much happens - there's nowhere to go from pure sound.

I'm curious what others think of this one. Please leave some comments. And watch this space, because I'm about to drop the triple lp bomb.

I agree with your comments. It's interesting for a short spell but the "trick" grows old quickly.

About 10 years ago I bought his 1977 album "Music On A Long Thin Wire" and that was almost exactly the same thing...neat for a short time (like 5 minutes) but tiresome after that. MOALTW had him stringing a piano string across a room, attached to oscillators and magnets and simply recording the output.

Anyway, interesting post. I think I admire his originality but the actual work product acquired taste.
Although I find 'pieces' type experimental stuff rather pretentious too, I like this one in theory. It's an intriquing concept. I used to try crap like this when I was a kid and had no idea it was an artsy-fartsy meme, or that there were people who did weird tape stuff. But you're right - after about five minutes of it, you 'get it' and might as well stop it. I had a friend who was into video when we were teens and he did the same thing with video tape to see how many generations it took for the signal to degrade into mush. It was pretty damn funny.
The video of Lucier doing Music For a Solo Performer really made me laugh though. Just him sitting there (in a room Ha ha) with EEG pads stuck to his head, the wires of which went to amplifiers that drove transducers that in turn 'played' percussion instruments using his brainwaves.
As kids we used to repeat a word over and over again until it lost its meaning and became sound. Try it with "Celler door."
Hi TBA, this is unrelated, but as you may know I ended my blog earlier today, and now I've noticed someone has already started one using the EXACT same name and URL as mine! It is NOT me, just to clarify. Thanks.
Yeah, Arch, I saw. If that guy were here, I'd kick his ass out of respect for your good work. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for your encouragement, after all.
As much as "I Am Sitting In A Room" is a "seminal work" and very very very influential these days (the process that gives this piece it's interest and influence is recreated via a handful of software apps, and of course, this is a very DIY piece), it is not really worth listening to more than once. Lucier's music is by far some of the more interesting to survive the "minimalist" hoopla of the 60s/70s, and a lot of this music is based in exploration a single acoustic phenomena. He is still writing music exploring this particular process - most recently "Exploration of the House" which is now aided by an assistant's computer programming. He is a nice, sleepy fellow. But you don't have to listen to this one all the way through, though it is worth hearing to understand how a lot of today's better ambient music grew.
hey there, love what you've been doing 'round here! Got myself a healthy amount of Lucier and always glad to see him getting some exposure, going to post the radio performance of this piece where he talks about it, hopefully someone'll find it worthwhile

I heard part of this on DJ Food's "Raiding the 20th Century" mix (available on UBUWeb) and I wanted to hear the whole thing, if only for historical completeness. Thanks!
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