About myself Ayuo, and about recording in England With Peter Hammill and many others

I started writing the following for a fan page for Peter Hammill. It started to become very long, so I decided to put it up here as well in the English section of my blog for anyone who is interested.

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In order to properly answer this question, I’d like to start from the beginning. I will be telling my own story as well, so this is going to be a bit long. I hope I wont bore you with this. I am sure that many of you have many interesting stories about yourself as well. I will relate how I came to meet Peter Hammill and about some of the work we did below.

I grew up in New York City. I went to PS 49, and later to Little Red School House, which is on the corner of Bleeker Street. My fourth grade teacher ( that’s when we’re 10 years old) introduced me to Edgar Allen Poe. Edgar Allen Poe wrote many of his works in NYC, and there was a seat in Riverside Drive Park nearby, where he used to sit and think of ideas. I was first interested in literature and poetry, and took part in poertry recitation contests. “The Fall Of The House Of Usher” and “Annabelle Lee” were some the first literature I was exposed to. I was much more interested in reciting poetry and stories, then I was in performing music in front of people, although I saw a lot of bands when I was growing up.

The late sixties and early seventies were a great age to be in NYC. I started guitar when I was eight because it was 1968, and even our primary school went on strike to protest against the war in Vietnam. At the time,12 year olds could go to see psychedelic rock bands play at the Filmore East, Academy of Music and other places without being asked anything. I went with my classmates to see the Jefferson Airplane, Yes, and Mott The Hoople. My mother had many artist friends from Japan, and she acted as a coordinator to take them to meet people like Andy Warhol, Saul Stenberg and the people working at the Musuem of Modern Art. We took them to see rock concerts toghether. I saw The Who perform the entire “Tommy” with Seiji Ozawa, when I was ten years old. We felt the spirit of freedom, maybe even more than the grown-ups of that time. We didn’t have to deal with the problems of getting drafted into the army. We didn’t have problems with girlfriends and boyfriends and marriages and divorces. We didn’t have to deal with responsibility yet. I once heard that Terry Rily’s daughter, whom I played with once when we were kids, had her first acid trip when she was eight years old. Well, my first psychedelic experience wasn’t that far off either. Some of my mother’s friends later told me that they were worried about me. A painter named Tadanori Yokoo told me years later that at the time he thought “this kid’s going to be really messed up when he grows older”. Yokoo may be known to rock fans for the album jackets he did for Santana, John Cale, etc.

In the early seventies, I was influenced by rock lyrics. I especially liked Lou Reed, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchell and Jon Anderson. I was influenced by the way Peter Gabriel told stories, and the small gestures he used while he was singing. I adopted them in the short stories I told to my classmates at school, and this made me a little popular in school. My classmates used to wait for me to tell some strange story. Lou Reed’s lyrics and the way John Cale recited Lou Reed’s story “The Gift” was an influence. The almost subconcious flow of poetry in the songs of Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny, sang over open tuning guitar was another influence.

However, my mother and my step-father suddenly split one summer unexpectedly while I was visiting my father and my Irish-American step-mother in Japan.In the next few years, there were so many divorces and splits in both sides of my family, and this influenced my life in a very negative way. Not understanding much about Japan and not having anyone to teach me about Japan was another difficulty. From 1978 to 1985, it was like living in some kind of a surrealistic nightmare.

I first heard Van Der Graaf around this time. I bought “The Quiet Zone/ The Pleasure Zone” and then discovered “Still Life” and “The Least We Could Do Is Wave To Each Other”, which are still my favorite albums of the classic Van Der Graaf Generator period from the seventies.

Being able to sign a recording contract first with Epic-Sony and later with Midi Records was a huge turning point for me. I was 22 at the time. My father had prevented me from completing my education. He had suddenly turned into a hardline leftist. So being able to do music became a way to escape from this.

However, I wasn’t an experienced musician yet. I needed some kind of guidance, but no one was providing me with much advice. I had signed a three album contract with Midi records, but for my third and final album for them, they told me they can only provide me with a very small bugdet. So I told them, if they could give me that amount in travel checks, I will take that money to England and find people there to record an album. At that point I didn’t really know anyone. The label gave the money because I think they thought if it didn’t work out, they would simply give me the money and finish off my contract with them. This was in 1986.

One week after I got to England, a musician I met in Hyde Park gave me David Lord’s phone number. He had been on a recording for an independent label, which was recorded at David Lord’s Crescent Studios in Bath.I rang him up, and he told me he was coming to London to do some recording at a studio owned by Jerry Boys, the producer who recorded a number of albums by Steeleye Span. So we met, and I played him some material that I had. I told him that I only had a budget for an indies album. He told me he was mostly doing work for major labels now, but that he was interested. I had heard some of the albums he recorded, but he knew nothing about me.

I asked him if we could get Maddy Prior and Peter Knight from Steeleye Span, and Dave Mattacks from Fairport Convention. I had seen them play recently, and they were great. So David Lord rang up someome, and then asked if I would like to have Annie Haslam from Renaissance on my album, because the promoter who was working with Steeleye Span was also working with Annie Haslam. I said that just Maddy Prior would be fine because I wouldn’t have the time and the budget to call up everyone even if I were interested to see what would happen.

I came to England virtually like a backpacker, travelling with some travel checks, and I wasn’t expecting this.

Now, I had always worked on music with poetry recitation because reciting poetry and telling stories were what I originally liked doing. I wanted to have someone recite a poem from the Carmina Burana in Latin.

David Lord said that he would like to phone up Peter Hammill to do the job, if it was okay with me.

I said ” Really? Are you sure he would interested?”

David said that Peter Hammill did a lot of poetry reading. That Peter studied the real anthentic Latin prononciation, which is closer to Italian. And that he was sure he would be interested.

David Lord was by then getting quite enthusiastic about bringing in people in, and seeing what would happen. He would see a name on a magazine, and say “Oh, it says so and so also worked with Faiport Convention. Should we call him up? Go for the lot.” He also said “We should call up Peter Blegvad, he has a great voice for recitation.” He was enjoying himeself. He would also also stay up until late at night like 3 AM on his own, working on slight adjustments on the mix until it was just right. I would say let’s call it a night, but David was quite a perfectionist and wouldn’t stop until he felt it was just right.

So it was getting to be a nice atmosphere. And all the work by Maddy Prior, Peter Knight and Dave Mattacks were all great as well. The performances were perfect for the songs. I couldn’t believe it. I was quite astonished at what was going on. Both the speed and the professionalism were amazing. Both Dave Mattacks and Maddy Prior mentioned working on my album on program notes some years after this. This was the album “Nova Carmina”. I was 25 at the time.

Peter Hammill drove me to his house, and he played me some tracks he was working on. They would be released as “As Close As This”. He showed me his Lute. I recorded an interview with him, which I later published.

The recordings I had done in Japan weren’t like this. The engineer and everyone else would be just sitting there waiting for me to tell them what to do. I learned a lot from working on this album. Things I didn’t know. I still regard “Nova Carmina” as my first real album.

The next year in 1987, my work with Peter Hammill went further. Peter Hammil was working on his opera, “The Fall Of The House Of Usher”. I was working compositions based on the 17th century Chinese novel, “A Dream of Red Mansion”. A Japanese Koto player named Kazue Sawai wanted to record an album at the same studio where I recorded “Nova Carmina”, and that she would like to play some of tghe music that I was writing for this music theater piece based on “The Dream Of Red Mansions”. I called up David Lord and I called up Peter Hammill and asked them to help me out. They rang up all the musicians who played on this CD. Sara Jane Morris had come to Bath to record some vocal tracks for “The Fall of The House Of Usher”, and sang with Peter on one song. Peter knew two sisters who could recite the part of the two cousins in “The Dream Of Red Mansions”. We also called up Guy Evans (VDGG)and James Warren (Stackridge) .We also asked Robin Williamson (Incredible String Band) to compose a solo composition for the Koto. The entire album was recorded in a week. Peter brought some wine to the studio and helped me record the recitation parts.

Years later, Peter Hammill tld me that he was surprised that this CD didn’t sell very well. It was a great CD. It had a little bit of everything. Songs, solo Koto music, one traditional composition and a song with a rock band.

He told me he was thinking about re-releasing it on his label. Actually this CD was re-realeased on label for traditional music in Japan, and remastered by a Japanese engineer who remastered Anthony Philip’s CDs.

One difficulty I’ve had throughout the years is that I would be placed in the the more serious Avant-Garde/Contermporary Classical Music section. I once asked one of the heads of Midi Records, why he signed me. He told me that he wanted someone to give the label a more ‘Academic’ image without it being really difficult and I fit the bill. The other head of Midi Records told me, “you know why we don’t work with your father. (He’s an Avant-Garde musician.) It’s because he’s too difficult, and it wouldn’t sell.” Music jounalists will often write about an album without really listening to it, so often a complete misunderstanding will spread from the media. I’ve read somewhere that Tony Stratton Smith created the label The Famous Charisma Label because he wanted to release “The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other” , but he couldn’t find a label that would do it. The bands on that label were considered more ‘classy’ because many of musicians ( as well as Monty Python) were more educated than most rock musicians are. There is lack of an audience for more intellectual sounding words and music, without it becoming Avant-Garde. And most Avant-Garde/Contermporary Classical Music are simply superficial and pretend to be intellectual without having much real content.

The year after recording the Koto album, I suddenly got a call from Peter. “Hi. I’m in Tokyo now. I’m playing a concert the day after tomorrow, would you like to come? I can put you on a guest list.”Throughout the years, I’ve often enjoyed the many small conversations we’ve have had.

At the time, Genesis was all over the radio with “Invisible Touch”. He told me about the time years before, when Van Der Graaf Generator toured with Lindisfarne and Genesis. “Genesis woud play the same solos and do the same thing each night, while we would be different each night. At first, we thought it was boring to do the same thing each night, but then I realized something. We would have great nights and nights when it didn’t work out. But Genesis would always be the same. They would never really have bad nights. And then I thought, this band is going to be more successful than we are.”

In the early 1990s, I was conmposing music for theater, ballet, contemporary dance, TV commercials, and documentary films. I went to Scotland with a ballet company in 1996. Around this time, I was working on a demo tapes for a project which would become “Songs From A Eurasian Journey”. I sent these tapes to Peter Hammill asking him if he would be interested.

For a while, I didn’t recieve an answer. Then suddenly one night at about 4AM in Tokyo time, I got a phone call. I answered the phone thinking who could it be calling me at this hour. It was Peter saying that he’s definitely interested in doing this recording project with me. He didn’t answer earlier because he had been busy. I asked him who we shoould get as an engineer, he said I should get David Lord because they were now sharing a recording studio together. Crecsent studios became Terre Incognito.

When David and I started working on the tracks, I asked him if we could get the kind of reverb in the sound mix we got in “Nova Carmina” in 1986. Peter walked in and said jokingly, ” Oh yeah, I liked you when you were nineteen. And he would be going like this.” Then he sang in a high falseto voice like that of a young boy. That was really funny.

Peter told me he liked the words he was able to come up for “Air” and “My Gazelle” on “Songs From A Eurasian Journey”.

In Spring of 1997 and December 1999, I spent about a month each in England recording two CDs. “Songs From A Eurasian Journey” (1997) and “Earth Guitar”(2000). I also guested on a CD called “Voice Of The Celtic Myth”. I play bouzouki on one track, on which the singer is Brandon Perry from “Dead Can Dance”. Peter Hammill’s daughters Beatrice Hammill and Holly Hammill sing on this CD as well. I was introduced to the producer John Anthony, who came around for a visit while I was there.

 

The president of MIDI records rang me up around 1998 and said that he could offer me a recording budget for a solo album, if I would go to do some recording in England. He told me he had been listening to Nova Carmina (1986), and wanted to listen to some more. He told me, “There is an atmosphere in those albums of real communication with the people you are working with. In the albums you made in Japan, it isn’t there. “

It was a joy to record those albums, and I think it shows in the sounds you hear. Too often in the albums I made in Japan, people were just doing their job and not getting into what I wanted to do. This only changed when I worked on the CD for John Zorn’s Tzadik label, such as “Red Moon” and “AOI”. I also think the two acoustic albums in the 2000s, “What We Look Like In The Picture” and “dna” are well recorded.

Peter Hammill wrote the following on the liner notes to my CD, “Eurasian Journey”:

“When Ayuo invited me to become involved in this project I was delighted to be able to do so. We share a love of early music, both in itself and as an examplar. of common origin. When we hear the Old Stuff we are potetially tapped in to more than merely musical history and there is na sense of homogeneity in more than simply musical modes. It’s a fascinating excercise to take musics from the 6th and 7th centuries (among others) in various different cultures, combine them together, compare and contrast them with each other and emerge with something truly new, yet strangely familiar.

In writing the lyrics for the songs on which I worked I found a certain responsibity to attemp to speak not inly of their own essential content but also of the nature of the work itself, the while retaining respect and sympathy for the origins of the music. This highly specific approach is, perhaps, best exemplified by the piece !Air” which, for me at least, can be taken as a statement of intent and belief in the project as a whole.”

 

For “Eurasian Journey”, I also got Dave Mattacks on drums and Danny Thompson to play the Double Bass. A great folk singer from Ireland, Aoife Ni Fhearraigh, was introduced to us from Clannad, who were involved in pruducing and managing her career. I remember Dave Mattacks sitting on the ground floor of the studio saying he really enjoyed the recording.

While I was recording “Earth Guitar”, Peter was there from about 10AM to 6PM, every weekday. He worked hard alone. he would spend hours fixing up small details in the mix. I heard many parts of what became “None Of The Above” being recorded and mixed. I borrowed Peter’s guitar and amp to record some parts in “Earth Guitar”. Clive Deamer played drums on “Earth Guitar”.

From the 1990s to 2007, I was married and have one child. In the early 2000s when Peter was in Tokyo, my child was still a baby, and Peter asked how she was doing? I said “She’s learning a lot each day.” Peter said “That means you’re learning each day.” I thought how true. Very small dialogue like this would make me think about many things in life.

My favorite of Peter Hammill’s solo albums are the ones I heard while he was making them. “As Close As This” and “None Of The Above” . I also like the recent recordings of VDGG and the live recordings. The classic albums of VDGG I like are “The Quiet Zone/ The Pleasure Dome”, “Still Life” and “The Least We Could Do Is Wave To Each Other.”

 

In recent years, I have been working a few music theater compositions. The three I have been working on are:

1) The Dream Journals Of Carl Jung

2) Outside Society Ⅰand Ⅱ

3) Pele (based on the Hawaiian mythology)

“The Dream Journals Of Carl Jung” are based on Carl Jung’s The Red Book and are performed with Akikazu Nakamura (Shakuhachi), Toshiko Kuto (Koto, Vocals, Recitation), Yoko Ueno (Vocals, Recitation, Accordion, Bass), Junzo Tateiwa (Percussion, Drums) and myself Ayuo on Vocals, Reciation and Bouzouki.

Akikazu Nakamura once asked me to arrange any progressive rock song I liked for an ensemble consisting of Shakuhachi and two Kotos for album on King Records. I made an arrangement of Peter Hammill’s “Dropping The Torch”. It is now unfortunately out of print.

When I got together with Akikazu two years, I made an arrangement of “The Lamia” from “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” for this ensemble. “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” was influenced by Carl Jung’s memories as well as the Tibethan Book Of The Dead. Akikazu Nakamura was telling me we should make our own music theater piece based on Carl Jung, and this is my composition. We will be playing this at a concert and lecture by an organization interested in Carl Jung, next February.

“Outside Society Ⅰ” is based on “Tokyo Journals” by the journalist Donald Richie, who lived in Tokyo for close to sixty years. It looks at Japanese society from the outside, which is the same way that I view this society. “Outside Society Ⅱ” is based on my own journals and observations of living outside the Japanese society.

“Pele” was composed for vocals and string quartet. I recite the story, sing and play the Celtic harp in this composition. Sometimes it has been performed with my own String Quartet arrangements of Debussy, Satie and Wagner.

A contemporary dance company, Richard Alston Dance Company toured England with live performances of “Eurasian Tango”, a set of compositions I composed at the same time as “Songs From A Eurasian Journey” in 2013-2014. And a group in Germany called Black Pencil released their version of one of my tangos on CD this year.

I would like to put these music theater works on a DVD, but I do not have any support yet. Some people have suggested Kick Starter and Crowd Funding.

For the much of my time, I teach music and do some writing. This has become quite a long essay, but this puts me up to date.

Ayuo

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John Cale Interview

JOHN CALE: A musical journey from Xenakis, La Monte Young, Velvet Underground and back to his roots in Wales. (Interview fom 2001)

I had always heard of John Cale’s music since I was in the first grade in elementary school. We had the first We had the first album by the Velvet Underground with the now famous banana record jacket by Andy Warhol.

We often passed by when the Velvet Underground was playing in the Dom below New York’s famous dance club, Electric Circus. (I was also at Max’s Kansas City with my step-father and mother when the Velvet Underground were playing their last shows with Lou Reed). And when I was in junior high school, I bought and listened to all of solo albums from “Vintage Violence” to “Helen of Troy”. Along with the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed’s solo album, they became one of my most important influences as lyricist and composer.

A:Are you living in New York now?

JC: Yeah

A: And you often go back to Wales?

JC: Well, I have family there, so whenever I can.I just found that I have a whole side of family that I didn’t know about when I wrote my autobiography. On my father’s side. I found a lot of information. That I was wrong in certain things. And right in other things. Things that bothered me, when I was a teenager, which I am now clear about. There’s an extended family on my father’s side that I’d really ignored.

I didn’t like my grandmother very much at all. Because my grandmother, she blamed me for my mother’s illness in front of me. At the time, I didn’t understand. My mother had a bisectomy. And in that kind of society, it’s so conservative. Nobody talked about what that was. Nobody talked about beast cancer. It was forbidden. So nobody knew. Nobody understood. Nobody explained anything. And here is a 13-year-old boy who is trying tyo grow up, and is very close to his mother. His mother disappears. And he is at loss as to what’s going on. So then, on my father’s side, my aunt told me the other day that at my father’s funeral, my mother told her something very revealing. My father who worked in the coal mines came from Cardiff, which was English speaking, but when he married my mother and came to live with her in Garmont in South Wales, which is Welsh speaking, my grandmother banned the use of English in the house, so that effectively shut him up.

 

I was so disgusted when I heard that.

So you weren’t communicating with your father much

JC: Not in Welsh. I couldn’t speak Welsh to him because he couldn’t speak any Welsh. And I didn’t learn English until I was seven at school. There’s that period there when communication was a problem. That sort of cleared up that whole period where it was murky.

There’s a parallel here between language and music. Music itself is a language that can transcend English or Welsh, and the ease with which I could use it to communicate was a comfort I found nowhere else.

A:So when you grew up what sort of music did you listen to.

JC: Thev radio. A lot of information came across from the radio.

I come from a very strict part of Wales, where it was very religious. “Don’t play the radio on a Sunday.” “But it’s Bach.” “No.” In Wales, when I was 15, 16, 17, I used to lie in my bed with the covers piled up to bury the sound to listen to the Voice of America and Radio Luxembourg, just in awe of what is elsewhere.

That song in my CD, “Music for a new Society”, “Rise, Sam and Rimsky-Korsakov” . That’s Sam Shepard’s poem, but it really captures that frame of mind, when your entire information about the world comes from the radio. Just in awe of what was elsewhere. And I’ve always enjoyed going to dfferent places. Wherever I am, just listening to conversations and watching people, you get so much information about people and they’re basically the same all the world around, only expressed differently. But it fascinated me. Eavesdropping in restaurants, and so on.

A* Was there not much traditional Welsh music

JC: Plenty. I was part of some of it. I just hired as a viola player playing in religious services, for oratorios, Handel’s messiah, and all those things in local orchestras.

A: I meant jigs

JC: Those were the gigs. There were no clubs.

A: I meant Celtic Jigs

JC: No. That was an Irish thing. I think Welsh things were more singing.

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Ayuo: What were some of your early music like before you went to New York City? Were your early compositions more melodic like the orchestral songs you would later set to Dylan Thomas’ poems in the 90s in your albaum, “Words For The Dying”?

John Cale: Dylan Thomas is like what knowing Goethe is in Germany. Because it played such a major role (in my youth), I wanted to tackle it. I came at it, not from a composer’s point of view when I learned it. When I was a kid at school, I was just overwhelmed by the noise of the language. What is in the language. So trying to put more music into something that has so much music already in it is like a tough challenge.

When I started working on those, Allen Lanier from Blue Oyster Cult and I went messing around in his studio and got the book The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas. And the only way to deal with it was the way we did it. Which was to do all of it. We took the collected poems, and we did all the poems. We’re going to set all of them to music. We’re going to start on Monday, and we’re going it on finish on Friday. We’re going to go through the book and do all of it. And that way you just force your way into a pattern of having to solve a puzzle.

And yes. Most of the music I did before coming to New York was very melodic. And then it became very abstract. It was abstract because I was learning. You just hit out and you go through as much as possible.

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While my father was studying composition with Xenakis, Xenakis told him about a student of his in Massachusetts who caused who caused a big commotion at a concert when he performed his piano piece, during which he suddenly whacked a table in two. This was John Cale. He had come down from Wales, UK, on a Lenard Bernstein scholarship, after being interviewed and approved by Aaron Copeland. In London, he was influenced by what he heard of the Fluxus art movement, and had started to do performances with the composer, Cornelius Cardew, who was 24 at the time. Xenakis took a liking to him and took him down to New York City, where his piano piece was being performed. This was to be his introduction to New York City.

 

John Cale: “Because I had studied a bit of the principles of mathematical philosophy including the Fourier series and probability theory before I met Xenakis, I kind of understood what he was getting at, but I felt that all this mathematics didn’t have much to do with the actual experience of listening to the music because he music’s great. It has this great noise. He knows how to orchestrate and its his orchestration that’s really thrilling. It’s also really strong contemporary Greek music. It’s national music. Bit in Europe, there’s a kind of mindset that you have to explain what you’re doing. What was great for me about John Cage was that he also had a methodology, but it was based in Zen. And it was a world view, not just justifying your activity. “

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Xenekis first took John Cale to listen to a concert in New York City, and to introduce him to other composers and people in the music scene there. John Cale was pleased to go. He would later write that he didn’t know why he chose John Cale to go with him instead of other students. I think he must have sensed that John Cale was veru talented, and would come to play a major role in music.

The Lower Eastside scene in New York City in the early 60’s was a place where there were hundreds of people who called themselves poets, and everyone was connected through their work and their lovers. On any given night, any combinations of musicians, poets, dancers would show up to play in sidewalks, rooftops, piers. Films doubled as sets for dancing with music, which would likely be interrupted by poetry reading. He visited La Monte Young, who lived in a large loft where he kept a lot of turtles, made yogurt, and feasted on organic food. His place looked like a hashish den. Everyone was on the floor. He made a living by selling drugs, and John Cale became his assistant delivering his drugs. He joined his group. The Theatre of Eternal Music consisted of La Monte Young, Tony Conrad, Terry Riley, Angus Maclise and himself. They spent hours experimenting with sounds. At first they were playing a raga-blues style of music, but when John started to improvise with the natural harmonics on his amplified viola, La Monte started to calculate a just-intonation system. It took a year and a half of collaborating to create the music of the Eternal Theater of Music.

During this time, fellow experimental music composer, Tony Conrad taped hours of experimental music and improvisation in his apartment with John Cale, and now these will be made available in a series of 3 CDs.

JC: There are 3 CDs. They exist because Tony Conrad was patient enough to sit down and go through them. There’s a lot of stuff. There’s a lot of stuff that you come up with when you’re sitting around the room with some friends, trying to make a noise. Some of are pretty funny.

One of them is on a organ. (“Sun Blindness Music.)It’s the Thomas organ that we used in the Velvet Underground. And I tuned it to La Monte’s Just Intonation. And I stuck the keys down, and improvised.

These are excellent examples of what early minimalism was, and what the mid-60’s experimental music scene was about. If you compare Cale’s “Sun Blindness Music” with electronic music by Xenakis, you can feel the influence he received from Xenakis. Xenakis’ music is calculated, but Cale presents a similar violent energy of sounds through improvisations with clusters.

John Cale: “The 3rd disc will have some pieces I recorded on a piano in the loft I lived with Lou Reed, and the piano frame left after we took it apart. The very last piece is when we amplify he piano frame and made a very large noise with what’s called a thunder machine. We lived above a fire station, and at the very end, a fireman comes up and the last thing you hear is him saying “That’s it. No more. You wanna do that kind of shit, go out to the countryside.” And so it’s a great way to end the CD.”

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A: Velvet Underground is one of the most influential bands of 60s. A lot of bands in the 70s and mid-70s were influenced by the Velvet Undeground

They still haven’t sold a million. Crawling along. Lou says they’re just lying to us, but I don’t believe it. They haven’t sold a million records. It’s something like 600,000 I think.

But they have a lot of influence. Nothing else.

A: The relationship between the Avant-garde and Rock was talked about in the media

 

JC: Now it seems the avant-garde is in rock. What we used to do was to push down the boudaries of what you can do on stage. Radiohead are pushing down the boudaries of what you can do on record, which is the structure of the song. Which is really surprising. They have altered the way normally the song structures are. It’s very interesting what they do. Very expressive.

A: I haven’t gotten down to listening to Radiohead that much yet.

Are there any other groups you like listening to these days.

 

JC: I don’t know. Yes. There’s this one song on the new Leanard Cohen album. Alexandra Leaving. I love that song. it’s just a classic Cohen song.

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From 1968, he produced and arranged a series of albums by Nico, which are in a genre of its own. The Indian harmonium (a hand pumped organ), forms the center of her songs and he made gothic ethereal arrangements with viola, piano, harpsichord, bass, percussion floating around her vocals, making the kind of music that sounds almost ancient or medieval, but was also totally new

JC: The concept with Nico was that she would put down the center piece, the anchor, and then I would do a lot of independent parts around it. Then we would take out the center piece which is the harmonium, and just let all these suspeneded parts work like a mobile in the air.

That was kind of what I tried to do in “Music for a new society”. We still eneded up with rock’n roll songs, which is strange. That was a lot more experimental. That was one with no second takes. You have one chance. That’t it.

A: The vocals are more emotional.

JC: Because you have to concentrate right there and then. And really, solving problems is when things come out of you that other wise wouldn’t. Because you’re under stress.

 

A: Your first independent album was a duo album with Terry Riley.

JC: The way I got to do (my first solo album) “Vintage Violence” was to do Terry Riley first. Their idea was to put in into the studio with some of the contemporary composers to maker them more popular. Give them a little more pop touch. So they wanted to do the same with La Monte. But they never got to La Monte that way. La Monte was too abstract. I remember the people at CBS was saying that we’ve been trying to get to La Monte, but that La Monte’s concept was like a circle becoming smaller and smaller and smaller and nothing they could do could pursuade him. But Terry was fine. I think what happened with Terry was that there were onlky 16 tracks in the studio, and we ended up putting two organ parts on one track, and he wanted to hear one of those organ tracks louder than the other, and he couldn’t hear it. And he was very disapointed because when you made one of the organ parts louder, You couldn’t isolate it. But otherwise it was fine

 

A: Do you have good memories of it.

 

JC: Yeah. It was fun. It was so fast.

 

A: Onre of the most well known bands you produced in tther 90s was Siouxie And The Banshees.

 

JC: That was a strange experience. It always seemed that everyone wanted to work on new materials, but nothing ever got done. It’s like everybody said “Yes, we want to do that”, But it never actually got done and I could never actually figure it out. Because it seemed these were people that reallly enjoyed living on the edge, and enjoyed experimenting and trying different things. Everybody was afraid of taking control. Or everyone felt that it couldn’t happen unless somebody was in charge. And nobody wanted to be in charge. And I was waiting. They ‘re a band and they’ve been together for 15 years, when I met them. That’s a record for a band. So we just got together and made an album, and that was it.

 

I learned from Patti that you really have to be careful with bands. They’re an organic whole. It’s a family.

A: And you learned this from Patti

JC: Well, when I first went into the studio with Patti, the first thing I said was “These instruments, they’re old, they’re warped.” The first day in tthe studio, I replaced all their guitars. And to them, it was horrible, and I didn’t realize that. I thought I was doing something good here. You won’t have to worry about the indstrument being out of tune because this is a good guitar. “Yeah but I love my old guitar.” You know what I mean. It caused all sorts of misundertsandings. So when I got into Siouxie, there’s a certain amount of respect for what they are into.

————————–

Nam Jun Pike had said recently that because we did so much in the 60s, I feel sorry for the younger generation.

 

JC: That’s a tough way of saying to the younger generation, get your shit together. You’re in no different position than when we were young. You just overthrow generations of thinking. Between La Monte and Nam Jun Pike, there were performances especially in Fluxus. Fluxus was the Premier location for performance art. that’s where it started. La Monte’s piece like Composition 1960 #3. I think what Nam Jun Pike was saying that because of what we did we made life tougher for you? Bullshit. There’s plenty of kids around who can dismiss Nam Jun Pike and say “That is not the academy.”

ABut the 60s was a period when people wanted to change things. People wanted to experiment to see what would happen.

JC: Yeah. And it was a lot of people. It wasn’t just one person . It was everybody. Because there was no progress being made. Progress was left to people like Lenny Bruce. The poor guy. He was fighting a lot of demons. But he was fighting them all at once. He didn’t necessary know what the demons were. And it ended up being the supreme court. This forces you into a Marxist frame of mind. The only way to fight the system is to form another one. You’d have no success unless you have a system within which you work. You need a support group. No. You don’t neeed a support group. I mean, I guess that the Vietcong and everyone else proved that you do need a support group. But that’s a different matter. That’s really formulating a government. What we’re talking about is overthrowing ideas. Like in the concert hall. And thinking about what is allowable in the concert hall. Taking an axe and smashing a table on stage was not allowable in those days, but they let me do it at Tanglewood. They didn’t want to do it. They refused for about three weeks. Until finally they said okay. But the main thing about it was the shock of it. So you really had to keep quiet about what you were going to do.

———

Starting from February, he will set the score to an hour and a half animation of the most famous myth in Wales, “Mabinogion”, with wall to wall music and songs in both Welsh and English. There’s another film called “A Beautiful Mistake” on which he’s involved as the music director, collaborating and playing with the Welsh rock group Superfurries, who sing in Welsh, and other bands like Catatonia and a lot of Welsh folk music. He also intends to work with a traditional Welsh bard (troubadour) to write songs in Welsh in the near future. Before all this, a new album of songs that he has been working on with Pro-tools equipment will hopefully be released in March.

———————–

AN INTERVIEW WITH BILL BRUFORD (2001)

AN INTERVIEW WITH BILL BRUFORD (2001)

AN INTERVIEW WITH BILL BRUFORD (2001)    For many people of my generation, Bill Bruford is a legend, whose drumming we grew up listening to in bands like Yes, King Crimson, Bruford, Genesis, UK and many other bands. So the chance to interview him was very important. He contributed important compositional ideas to the albums regarded as Yes’ masterpieces, “Fragile”, “Close to the Edge”, and “The Yes Album”. He then went on to further consolidate his drumming style in King Crimson, and began composing and making his own albums more jazz oriented albums from the late 70’s. He first formed Earthworks with Django Bates, Iain Ballamey and Tim Harries. After rejoining Yes and King Crimson in the early 90’s, in 1997, he recorded a jazz trio album with Ralph Towner and Eddie Gomez, and since then he has returned to a more acoustic jazz style. He reformed Earthworks with new members in 1998. He has said that he feels the new Earthworks would be positioned somewhere between Bill Stewart (ex-drummer for Pat Metheny, whose CD, “Snide Remarks”, Bill regards as a big influence) and the Dave Holland Quintet.This interview was taken when he came to play with his group Earthworks for 3 nights in Tokyo in February.
——–EARTHWORK’S NEW CD “The Sound of Surprise”——–

A: I think your playing has evolved and changed recently.
B: Yeah, more jazz. It’s more acoustic. Freer. Looser in some ways.
A: The music always has something happening. There’s a constantly different changes and you’re watching and giving out directions. And the music is exciting in the way that early jazz was at places like the Village Vanguard.
B: Well I hope so. Should be exciting. It’s the classical jazz quintet sound, which we all know very well. So the interest becomes in how you arrange for that and what can you bring to it that’s a little different. I think I bring some odd meters and rhythmic material that’s unusual in that genre.
A: You’ve always had a distinctive style in drumming. But your style has changed from the first period with Earthworks. At that time, there was more emphasis on the rhythmic groove. And you would put in very distinctive fills. There was more funk groove.
B: Yes. True. But the big difference is that the first band used electronic drums. The electronic drum kit forces you to play in a certain way, which is interesting. But for many years, I’ve played with that, and now I just want to do acoustic.
A:At the same time, you are playing in a very melodious way.
A: Yeah. Is there an influence from doing electronic drums.
B: Absolutely. I love the idea that the drummer had the melody. I always heard from my early days, the melodies in the drums. Particularly with Max Roach. I liked all that. Electronic drums enabled me to really play tunes. So on the band’s first 3 CDs, the drummer carried the harmony by playing chords from the pads. “Bridge of Inhibition”, Strombolli licks”, Pilgrim way. Some of these tunes. So I really was playing the tune and I loved that. I thought that was great. But the technology was very old fashioned. Very difficult. Very expensive and unreliable. A real headache.So now, I write the melodies that I want in the compositions and play it that way.
A:”Bridge of Inhibition” is kind of like Balkan Gypsy music.
B: It is, Yes. Central European. Very rhythmic. Great dances, they have.
A: Your playing has never been this detailed. There is so many things going on like percussive elements. B: It’s all recorded in one pass on the CD. There is no overdub. But yes, I treat each tune as a little drum composition.

 

———ON COMPOSING

 

A: I notice that more of the music is credited to you, whereas in the early days of Earthworks, a lot was credited to Django Bates and Iain Ballamey.

 

B: Django Bates and Iain Ballamey were really very good writers. In the early days, I would make some rhythmic confection with a Simmons electronic drum kit, and say “I’m gonna do this. You guys do whatever you want”. So they would write a tune on top. Now we have no Simmons kit. And now I pretty much write all the music all the way through. And if it needs improvements or corrections from Steve Hamilton, he gets credited for that. But now I find I’m good with the rhythm. Great rhythmic ideas. Okay with the timing. I like tunes. I think there is some very strong tunes on “The Sound Of Surprise”. My harmony is okay, but sometimes Steve will re-voice the harmony to a more sophisticated harmony. Particularly on ballads. To more sophisticated jazz harmony. So that’s my weak spot.A: I remember in the liner notes to your fist solo album, “It Feels Good To Me”, you wrote that they were the first pieces that you actually sat down and wrote on the piano.

B: Yes, that’s correct

A: And it took a long time.

B: Yes. Not good at piano, but getting better.

A:Are you still writing on the piano?B: Yes. All the music on the new CD, “The Sound Of Surprise” was written from the piano. And then I do a terrible little demo on the MC-500. And I mock up the tune just so the others can hear it. And then I interface that with the computer sing Sibelius music software. And that prints the chart. And then we have a rehearsal. We take some comments, and maybe make some changes. Print out again a second draft. Another rehearsal. More input from other musicians. Third draft. Finish. Rehearse. Go on tour. 20 cities in England. And make the CD in 3-4 days.
A: What is the British jazz scene like at the moment?
B: The problem with the British jazz scene is the problem with the British. I think so many musicians still think of themselves as inferior. And they don’t need to. They are world class players. But sometimes they’re rather small minded.We’re in a small island like Japan. And sometimes we live in the shadow of the United States musically. It’s a small scene. Not much money. People like to sit around and bitch and complain. Whereas the great attraction of Earthworks is that I can get them out of England and give them a platform in which to improve themselves in. Tokyo, Los Angeles, Rio De Janeiro and everywhere else and that opens their ears. And they become bigger players as a result. So they like to be in Earthworks. And I like to work with young musicians, who are not too formed in their ideas. So it works well.

 


WORLD MUSIC AND EARTHWORKS

 

A: I noticed that you have a number of pieces with Balkan Gypsy melodies like “Bridge of Inhibition” that you played last night from Earthworks’ first CD, and also the composition you played from the new CD. B: Exactly. “The wooden man sings and the stone woman dances” on the new CD. The jazz musician and the audience have always connected through the dance, but now the dance is a Rumanian dance.

 

A: So you’ve listened to quite a lot of Rumanian Gypsy music?

B: Yes. But I’m no student of any one thing because you hear so much music. Taiko drumming here. Brazilian samba here. Rumanian Gypsy here. Art-rock here. It’s all earthworks. We take the music from everywhere. And the only good thing about being British is that we have no rhythmic culture of our own. The British in rhythm are terrible. So I take all my rhythm from everywhere else. I steal it like a bird that takes from here and there and builds a nest. That’s also the story of jazz. It started out as African – American music. But that in itself was a fusion of Spanish, African, and other elements. So that was a mixture too. And now jazz is an international sport. Now we take influences from everywhere. Earthworks.

A: I think a lot Balkan music is interesting these days. A few months ago, I met a Rumanian Gypsy clarinet player who was touring here. He was talking about wanting to do more jazz. But it’s often better to sell the music as music from your own roots. A Japanese Clarinet player who toured Europe also promoted his music as Chindon, although it also contained jazz and rock elements. I think the next step for world music is after the people recognize the roots, they can be more free to do what they really want to do.

B: I think that’s very true. I think the influence of world music and the permission to mix it all up has actually liberated so many of us. We can fly from London to Los Angeles to Rio and back again in 2 days. The world is getting small. Very rarely, do you find someone who insists that the music has to be done this way only. Most people would say “Ah, that’s interesting. Wow you put that with that and got that. That’s great.”

A: Will you be doing any projects with musicians involved in various music in the world?

B: Yes, if I can find them and when they arise. For myself, I can’t initiate any more work. I have so much on. And you have to focus. And follow something through. And I’d like to follow Earthworks through to whenever it gets to.
—————————- YES, KING CRIMSON, GENESIS—————
A: In ABWH, I noticed that the style you were playing in was similar to that of “Earthworks”, even though the music was very different. It was also very different from the early days in Yes, when you were playing the same songs.

B:(laughs) Yeah, well, maybe.That was like a vacation for me with old friends. There was nothing particular creative about it. We were playing music that was already written. But for about a day or two, there was a possibility that that group ABWH could have really got quite good.
A: One of the songs on the new CD actually reminds me of King Crimson.

B: Maybe. Which one? A: Half – life.

B: It’s kind of got a rock feel. King Crimson is a big influence. Robert Fripp was a big influence. It’s a terrific group. I think its maybe that I have to leave something I really love in order to do something I love even more. And I don’t think I can be in King Crimson and do what I want in Earthworks. But there is a lot of influence from King Crimson. Often I hear myself saying in Earthworks, many of the things Robert would say or that was said to me in a King Crimson rehearsal room. Many philosophical ideas about music. Jazz? Rock? It doesn’t matter. One’s played with amplifiers, and one isn’t. That’s the only difference.It’s more of an attitude to music. Don’t play unless you have to. Don’t play until you hear something you want to play. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play.
A: In an interview, I read somewhere, you mentioned that journalists often lump King Crimson, Yes and Genesis as the same thing, but that you’ve been in all three and you couldn’t think of three different bands that do things in three completely different ways. Can you site an example of that?

 

B: Yes was and still is a vocal group modeled on the Beach Boys. King Crimson essentially was a Avant-Garde jazz group, much more interested in the music than the singing. Yes would use a diatonic scale. King Crimson would use a whole tone scale. Yes had its basis in American pop music like the Beach Boys, Fifth Dimension, Vanilla Fudge, while Crimson had its basis in the European Avant-Garde. It’s a completely different way of working. In a rehearsal room with Crimson, there is very little talk and a lot of playing. With Yes, a lot of talk and no playing. The philosophy is different. And Genesis? In Crimson and Yes, we thought that Genesis were copying us. They just seemed to be doing everything that we did. We thought they were really too late. Off course they became the mega-stars. And when I played with them, that was the first time, I played somebody else’s music. That I had had no compositional input and therefore felt no emotion for. With Yes and King Crimson, I was intensely into the music. With Genesis, I was just the studio guy. I was very badly behaved. But it wasn’t their fault. It’s my fault entirely. I was very young. It came at a very bad time for me. I knew I wanted to be a band leader and a writer, but didn’t know how to get there. So I was marking time in Genesis.

 

A: You are credited as co-composer in songs by Yes such as “The Heart of the Sunrise”. How did you take part in the composition?

B: In those days, and this is the problem with rock music, is that everybody would sit in the rehearsal room waiting to find out what to play. With nothing on paper. Nothing written. And this takes hours. Somebody has a bass riff. And the other guy says “Oh, that’s good, I’ll play the keyboard like this.” And the other guy says “I hate that. Let’s do this.” Then there is an argument. And then you start again. And people would contribute ideas. So for “Heart of the sunrise”, I would’ve come up with some bass riffs. (Sings the first lines in “Heart of the Sunrise”). I came up with many bass ideas in Yes because I’m a drummer, so the next thing I hear is the bass. Then I hear up, up through the music. Drums, bass, chords, melody. So I come to melody last.
Years later, in Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe, there was possibility for a short while that that group could have really got quite good, but market forces insisted that it had to become Yes, and that we had to co-operate with Chris Squire and Trevor Rabin. And the whole thing turned into a horrible mess.

A: The CD ABWH begins with the words “Be gone you power play machine, we don’t need your gold (and money)”

B: But that’s Anderson. The next thing you know he’s got a big contract. He needs the power machine. But he’s a crazy man, a good crazy man. He’s crazy, but good.
A: In a recent interview, Phil Collins said that  he was very much influenced by you in his early days.He used to go see Yes all the time and learned all your drum parts.

B: Yes he did.Yes, Phil’s a great drummer. Genesis was very influenced by Yes. And I was influenced by King Crimson.So it’s quite different. It’s all called “Progressive Rock”, but the philosophies were all different. And it shows now because really the most artistic group now is King Crimson. The one with its heart in the right place. Yes is now a parody group of itself. It’s like watching a cover band playing their own music. Like an imitation of the real thing. So Yes is a tribute band. Genesis became a very commercial pop group, but maybe is now broken up. But King Crimson still has life and ideas because it was brave enough too change. Don’t you think so?
A:I haven’t heard their new CD.
B: I don’t like their new CD, but that’s not their fault.
A: I liked the mini CD “Vroom” more than the CD that came afterwards “Thrak” because I thought there was more excitement in “Vroom”. “Thrak” was more organized. Then I went to the live show.
B: Was that effective?
A: Well, I enjoyed your playing.
B: Maybe you didn’t see why there was six people.

A:No

B: Well I didn’t either

A: I would have enjoyed it more if it was you alone on the drums.

B: So would I, but Robert Fripp said this guy’s gonna play drums, do you want to play drums? I said sure. I worked with Pat and we made interesting rhythmic ideas locked together. There’s a tune called “Sex, Eat, Drink, Sleep, Dream”. This middle section of that is amazing rhythmically. It’s terrific. Baboon was a duet that we did that really good. But this was a situation forced upon me, and I said “Okay, I’ll make it work.” And I did make it work. But enough now.
A: So the period after that is when you started to evolve into your present style.
B: Sure, since 1998, I’ve been working on Earthworks full time. Getting looser in my playing. More jazz-like. Better with dynamics. Becoming a better musician. A better composer. A better band leader.

 

Bill Bruford PDF.jpg

The Warmth of Bodies by Ayuo

皆さま
この映像を是非見てみてください!
これは今月の私たちのグループジェノームのライヴを映像作家のCharlie kawamura (河村 雅範さん)が取って頂いたものです。
最近のライヴがどんな感じか?
これを少し見るだけでも、その一部が伝わると思います。
この曲はAyuoの作詞作曲の作品ですが、この曲の後にデヴィッド・ボウイのアルバムZiggy Stardustを1曲目から最後の曲まで演奏しました。その後に、立岩さんのイランのリズムの説明が入り、イランの曲をロックにした曲を演奏しました。そして、アンコールにはプリンスの『パープル・レイン』の1曲目のLet’ Go Crazy。
そして来月は、ここに写っているメンバーとダンサーのNashaal Naho Baba Barbaraと共にプリンスのトリビュート・ライブを公園通りクラシックスで11月24日にやりますが、自分たちのオリジナルな独特のヴァージョンのプリンスになると思います。是非ご期待ください!

My Influences – 影響受けた作家や本のリスト

Influences
Someone asked me to write out a list of writers and thinkers that were influential to me.こないだ影響受けた作家や本のリストを書いて見ないかと人に聞かれた。これは作家や哲学者のリスト。
Some of the people listed below may not agree with each other, if they had met, but what was important to me was that they had written something that was inspirational for me.
The list is not in any particular order.

Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Cultural Anthropology:
Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, Joseph Campbell, Arthur Schopenhauer, Alphonso Lingis, Lynn Margulis, Dorian Sagan, Timothy Leary, P.D. Ouspensky, David Abram, Robert Anton Wilson, Edward T. Hall, Jared Diamond, Slavoj Zizek, John Gray, Matt Ridley, Marie-Louise Von Franz, Barbara Hannah, M. Esther Harding, Moshe Feldenkrais, Eric Franklin, Susan Rowland, Ian Buruma, Bruno Bettelheim, Robert Graves, Novalis, Hiroko Yoshino (吉野 裕子), Antonin Artaud, Donald Richie, Colin Wilson, Julian Jaynes. Oliver Sachs, Francisco J Varela, Tyler Volk. George Carlin

Literature:
Edgar Allen Poe, Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks), Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Andrew Lang, Jeannette Winterson, Angela Carter, Salman Rushdie, Kurt Vonnegut, Yukio Mishima (三島由紀夫), Kobe Abe (阿部公房), Shuji Terayama (寺山修司), H.P. Lovecraft, Barbara Vine, Nikos Kazantsakis, Marguerite Duras, J.G. Ballard, Sylvia Plath, Vaslav Nijinsky,

Ancient literature:
Polynesian Mythology, European Troubadour Poetry, Carmina Burana, English traditional ballads, Tales of 1001 Nights (千夜一夜)、Zeami Motokiyo (世阿弥)

Books about Dance:
Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Von Laban, Books on Hawaiian Hula dance and 20th century contemporary dance, Ruth St. Denis, Wendy Bounaventura
——————————
I have included written lyrics and written music below, but have not included recorded music, which includes rock, jazz, world music and world traditional music.
That would take another list。下記に作詞家と譜面を書いていた作曲家は入っているが、録音されている音楽は入っていない。ロック、ジャズ、世界の伝統音楽、やワールド・ミュージックを含むリストは別の機会に。

Song Lyrics:
Lou Reed, Joni Mitchell, Peter Hammill, Peter Gabriel, Ray Davies (The Kinks), Stephen Sondheim

19th Century Music Composers:
Ricard Wagner, Franz Liszt, Hector Berlioz

20th Century Music Composers:
Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Alban Berg, Toru Takemitsu (武満徹), Stephen Sondheim

熊坂 路得子さんの作曲した曲にAyuoが英語の作詞した曲

これはアコーディオン奏者 熊坂 路得子さんの作曲した曲。(Full English translation is on the youtube link.)
Yoshimi Watanabeさんのアイディアで成立したコラボレーション。
先週の11月15日の『LIVE PARADISE』からの映像。

この曲に僕は新しい言葉を英語で書いて歌っている。古代の中東や多くの国では、神様や大切に思う人の名前は声を出して唱えないという風習があった。それは大切な人や神様の名前は、心の中にしまっている方がその力が強くなるという考えだった。古代のヘブライ人にとってエホバという名前もそうだった。アメリカの作家ラブクラフトは、これをテーマにした小説を書いている。この曲では、そうしたフィーリングを歌っている。曲の真ん中でダンスを少しするが、その後の歌が特に声にその感情を出ている。お時間のない方は、曲の真ん中から後の方のを見て頂けたら, ここで語っている事が伝わるくれるかもしれません。
演奏していると不思議な力が身体の中に入っていくのを感じる時がある。それは自分の力というよりは、宇宙の中に浮いている大きなものかもしれない。演奏の為の練習の一つには、そうした力が身体の中に入りやすくするものが必要だと思っている。多くのダンスの為のテクニークは身体をそうした方向に持って行ってくれる。

Ayuo: Vocals, Dance, Lyrics
Rutsuko Kumasaka: Accordion, Music Composition
Yoshimi Watanabe: Piano

From “The Dance of Life: The Other Dimension of Time” by Edward T. Hall

From “The Dance of Life: The Other Dimension of Time” by Edward T. Hall:
Before the Renaissance, God was conceived of as sound or vibration. This is understandable because the rhythm of a people may yet prove to be the most binding of all the forces that hold human beings together. as a matter of fact, I have come to the conclusion that the human species lives in a sea of rhythm, ineffable to some, but quite intangible to others. This explains why some composers really do seem to be able to tap into that sea and express for the people the rhythms that are felt but not yet expressed as music. Poets do this too, though at a different level.

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