Re: [Fwd: Concerts in Nov.]

Subject: Re: [Fwd: Concerts in Nov.]
From: DC Mckinnon (
Date: Thu Nov 11 1999 - 09:36:12 EST

On Thu, 11 Nov 1999, Katharine Norman wrote:

> I'd be interested to know people's views on the volume level issue. I, too,
> heard Pierre Henry (in London) and found it excrutiatingly loud. I was
> really disappointed because I just had to leave even though I found some of
> what he was doing quite interesting. I was in pain but, more to the point,
> I felt he was deliberately 'terrorising' my listening and that the material
> didn't mesh with this apparent intention. I've been to more than a few
> events like this in recent months and I find it loud
> better? butch-er? bigger?

I think Pierre Henry is an interesting and possibly anomalous example of
"amplitude terrorism" within the "EA" genre for reasons that have nothing
to do with his music itself and everyhting to do with the post-x,
alt-x, electronica crowd he seems to have become the darling of - at least
here in the UK. When alt-culture is at play it seems, still, that louder
is better, that loud = a challenge to the legit musical institution. So
does this mean that by playing his stuff loud Henry is wooing a
particular audience? Exhibiting the right signs to satisfy the alt-crowd
code? It does seem to me that this is one socio-function of
amplitude. At the other other end of the decibel scale the music of
someone like Helmut Lachenmannn makes a similarly anti-institutional
statement by creeping towards the threshold of inaudibility. The
difference between the two being that loudness has become an institution
in itself. Welcome to the church of latterday rock'n'roll Mr Henry.


* * * * * * * *
Dugal McKinnon
Dare I say that I work and study at a university...

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