Re: Fwd: from Eliot who used a different email address

Subject: Re: Fwd: from Eliot who used a different email address
From: Kevin Austin (
Date: Wed Feb 02 2005 - 01:13:20 EST

At 03:37 +0000 2005/02/02, Richard Wentk wrote:
>What I liked about Janet Cardiff's piece was that it wasn't about
>the technical skill behind either the recording or the music.


If the piece had not been Tallis, but this was an artist's decision.
She could have commissioned a composer to write a 40 voice piece. I
have spoken with choral people who were put off by the poor quality
of the performance, and there was a sense of betrayal for me. I found
the intonation and precision lackluster and insecure. I remained
continuously aware of the failure of the team to realize the
potential of the idea.

Since the idea was to be able to listen to each and every part 'up
close' and segregated from the mass structure, that's what I did. It
simply didn't work "up close". There were a number of highly skilled
musicians, but they were drowned in the blur of neighboring ensemble
and intonation problems.

>Instead it was about the music in a very direct way - how people
>rehearse, perform, create, and experience it.

This was nowhere in the notes for the work as I recall. Considering
the resources put into it (which means resources not put into other
art), I feel there is a consideration of sonic excellence. It was to
me as if no one cared about what it sounded like. Maybe I'm just
old-fashioned and too sensitive. (*)

>And I know from friends' comments that that's exactly what they took
>away from it.

The skilled musicians I have spoken with said many worse things than
I have written. I tested myself by staying in the space for multiple

>It has an immediacy and warmth that's much missed in academic EA.

I assume that this immediacy and warmth was the human voice rather
than the ea component.

>If Kevin thinks people found it off putting, all I can say is that
>no one I talked to would agree with that.

I watched groups of people enter and leave the space for over an
hour. Maybe 10% stayed for a complete presentation. It may have been
that the Toronto and Montreal presentations were particularly poor in
terms of the spaces chosen. If this is so, then there is a
consideration here as to why the artists allowed this to be so. What
is / was the nature of their aural training / "musicianship".

I am only able to measure the work against the standards of my own
hearing, and listening to and understanding sounds for me is not
simply something I do while I doing more important things.

There were (and are) ensembles in Montreal that would have produced a
significantly higher quality of performance, and the idea of
recording it in a cathedral, and then turning off the mics when the
singer wasn't singing was difficult for me to work through.

In point-source presentation, the acoustic of the presentation space
is important - it is not simply an "add-on". In art galleries I go
to, the placement and lighting of a piece is a detailed study. The
work has to be presented "just so", in the best way possible. This
was not the case at the Toronto presentation.



(* My favorite restaurant review ... "The food was terrible, but
there was lots of it.")

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