DJ or not DJ


Subject: DJ or not DJ
From: pal (pal@NPD.UFPE.BR)
Date: Wed Jul 07 1999 - 17:00:33 EDT


What links and what separates the following two 'composers'?

[1]

2 June 1948

On this eve of departure I cannot help coming to the studio for a final
session. I'll have a last go to get sorted out with the *voices*.

The inclusion of vocal elements has tempted me for a very long time. I haven't
got any actors at hand, let alone singers (we've dispensed with performers
weeks ago). There are always abandoned old discs around in a studio. I grab one
at random. It's Sacha Guitry, my word. 'Sur tes lèvres', he says, etc... But
the recording was interrupted by the continuity girl's coughing, which explains
why it was discarded. I take this disc and I put on another turntable the quite
pleasant noise of a good old barge, then I put on the other two whatever falls
into my hands: an American disk with accordion or harmonica and a Balinese
disk. Next, a virtuosity exercise at the four potentiometers and eight ignition
keys.

Royal pardons do exist. The *Étude 5*, called *aux casseroles* (for it begins
and ends with a spinning box sequence) comes to life in a few minutes: the time
to record it.

In the four previous études, one can notice how unsatisfactory the development
is, how coarse the crescendo, how clumsy the transitions. In the *Étude aux
casseroles* the barge of the canals of France, the American harmonica, and the
Bali priests miraculously start obeying the god of turntables; they form a
masterly ensemble, economical with its effects, and when the poignant 'Sur tes
lèvres, Sur tes lèvres, Sur the lèvres' intervenes in alternation, interspersed
with coughs, the listener, always unforewarned, gets amazed with good reason at
such a skilful, such a harmonious, such a definitive composition. (Schaeffer,
'Introduction à la musique concrète', *Polyphonie* 6, 1950: 43)

[2]

He does his usual trick of popping in unexpected stuff --- the odd jungle track
now and then (great idea --- but didn't work too well on the French crowd).
Half way through at 4:00 I am leaping up and down to System 7's *Alpha Wave*
(You can't avoid it these days), and Garnier lets it go into the quiet bit.
Strange, I think, for the quiet break is a few minutes long at least, and I've
never seen any DJ attempt to make it through --- it's just too quiet. But then
comes the bit where Hawtin [the original composer] obviously planned a little
trick for the big sound-systems. The bass gets lower and lower, you can hear it
on your stereo, but if you have a huge stack of sub-woofers this is something
you feel. There are waves of pure sub-bass ripping my insides apart, it is
making me feel very queasy, everyone is looking around and grinning --- it is
really fucking everyone. All of a sudden a killer hip-hop beat kicks in.
Garnier has just dropped a Public Enemy track. Hardcore gangsta rap. Bemused
looks galore... At the end a mad funky techno beat kicks in --- it is Garnier's
trade-mark track... The crowd are loving it. But what does Garnier do then? He
tries to be too funny, too clever. He mixes in *Close Encounters of the Third
Kind*. Yes, the bit where they are playing those famous five notes over and
over and the spaceship is replying with mad tones. More bemused looks. (From a
posting to UK-Dance by Jon Ross)

***

Some ideas:

(1) while both [1] and [2] work with prerecorded sounds, [1] works with musical
objects, [2] works with a repertory of tracks;

(2) the thrilling element, in both cases, seems between what is accepted and
what is forbidden;

(3) [2] gets immediate feedback from his audience, [1] doesn't;

(4) [2]'s success, to a large extent, is measured by the fact that people dance
to his music, which comprises being occasionally unable to dance;

(5) [1] makes 'a masterpiece', [2] makes 'a great night out';

(6) [1] one and [2] improvise with heterogeneous sound materials.

Carlos



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