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Pierre Theberge: Conversation with Michael Snow 201 When I improvise alone at home, I play whole pieces, each of which is concerned with specific materials, and there is no way I can surprise myself the way other independent lines of thought crossing mine can. It's just not radical enough for me. In the CCMC we joke about desiring chaos and we say after we played, if it was really good, "Well, we nearly got there"! The connections that happen in these five simultaneities are inconceivable. I don't think they could be composed; they're too subtle and that's the beauty of the music. When it's good it's beyond composition, you couldn't have an idea likethat. We tape-record everythingand I listen to these tapes a lot. Sometimes we may be very pleased with a piece but don't "know" it consciously. Listening to the tapes often reveals an order or sets of systems that no one was aware of during the playing of the music. The recording makes an artifact of a phenomenon, of a "natural" organism . It's like photographing a plant in order to examine it and classify it. One of the artist's functions has been to explore and map "nonsense." That's what the CCMC does with "chaos." It's an adventure. In the form of tapes and records the music becomes a "product," an "object," but in its formation it is a process of tryingto encounterthe unrecognizableand get to know it. In playing I just try putting this with this and that with that but since you're not alone it's partly reactive. I consciously choose sometimes but often it all happens too fast for that; it's physiological and mental simultaneously.You act and observe the action and its results and so on. Sometimes the least deliberate things are the most interesting; sometimes the best music comes when you're not even paying much attention to it. I have made other kinds of music which relate more evidently to my other work and the music (and the album jacket itself) of my Chatham Square label album is an example. Here, as in the sound for my film, the nature of recording, its effect on the original subject and its final context were considered. The CCMC recordings are "documentary." I have also done gallery sound installations.One of them, Hearing Aid, involves the effects of successive rerecordings, of distance, acoustics and "framed" fortuitous environmentalsound. It uses cassette tape recorders and sound sculpturally and it also uses the memory aspect of recording in a way that relates it to some of my work with images. The film Rameau's Nephew by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen seems to bring together many of the concerns you'vejust been speaking of. Well, there is that business of putting stuff in your memory, and it does get to a stage, I think, where you are on the point of the present, and you see the wake of the past and you're looking ahead a little bit, but you really can't look ahead because you don't have any idea what's going to come (as in the CCMC's music); and presumably you found it interesting enough to stay that long, so you hope to find more of interest but you don't know what it could be, really. This representation or use of time by elongating and stopping it, by concentrating a present moment - would you have anticipated it that clearly when you were doing Rameau? Not the states that youget into-1don't think they're imaginable - butsome ofthe effects, in a way. It could be organized differently. I think it's a bit like Painting because there's no immediately evident reason why one thing follows another. ...


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MARC Record
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