Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

12. Alvin LucierMusic On A Long Thin Wire

This is a kind of piece that plays itself. No one is really playing it; it’s a system of a long, stretched piano string with an oscillator driving a frequency straight through the string. The string starts to resonate in this frequency, and this resonance is increased by big magnets on both ends of the string. The interesting thing is that the sound it creates, even if you use exactly the same frequency, is always changing when done live and can be quite different depending on the place and the situation. Ilpo and I reconstructed this piece and played it live in London in the Southbank Centre. Our main idea was to do a rather heavy version of it and to drive so much amplification power to the wire that it starts to glow red and breaks in the end. We did this many times in Finland when we experimented with the piece. Unfortunately, in London the amplifier we got was some crap Peavey thing that didn’t have enough amplification power to make this happen, so we were not able to make this ending for the piece, but otherwise it was okay. We had contact mics on both ends of the wire and had the sound in our desks that we were driving through the PA system. 
 I was also lucky to meet Alvin Lucier a couple of years ago in Rome and talk about his work. He has done many interesting, wonderful pieces. There are quite a lot of other electroacoustic composers who have been important, like some of the Parmegiani and Pierre Henry. Toru Takemitsu also made some wonderful electroacoustic scores for movies in the early 1960s. There was also this guy, Toshi Ichiyanagi, who was Yoko Ono’s husband in the 50s, but he made really special electroacoustic stuff in the 1960s using electric guitar with lots of feedback which is quite close to maybe what Sunn O))) is doing, droney noise guitar with feedback.

PreviousNext Record

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today