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Robert Fripp - November Suite

Robert Fripp - November Suite

Soundscapes - Live at Green Park Station
Price: $13.00
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SKU: DGM9701

Read more about Soundscapes.

Robert Fripp: guitarist and soundscaper
David Singleton: quadrophonic sound engineer & digital compositor (SADiE)
Hugh O'Donnell: the cracks between & merchandising table

This record is a precis of the three hours' music and of four sound sources into two. It is true to the musicof the event, but it is also a translation. The time, place and circumstances of listening are different: music is only one part of a musical event. If an audient of this record were also at Green Park Station. they might be interested in comparing their experience of both. Our experience is ours and it makes its own contribution, If you listen to this record with some attention a connection may be made with the music, and your experience of Soundscapes may change. This in turn will change Soundscapes. How this happens is part of music's mystery. Music must be heard for it to become real, and to be born into our world.

A Ton Prob Production by Robert Fripp & David Singleton on behalf of Discipline Global Mobile.

Sleeve design © Bill Smith Studio, London. Cover picture: "Sea Change" by John Miller.


- Robert's Comments -

I
Music is an aspect of Intelligence with which, through which and to which we may connect. This should not be difficult, as we are already connected. So why is it so hard?

This particular performance, in Green Park Station, was freely available to anyone who walked through the former station to shop at Sainsbury's supermarket or the trading stalls on the station platform. Hugh O'Donnell set up and manned our own merchandising table.

II
Acts and decisions without innocence, choices to perform which honour product over process, often close the door on music. "Innocent" acts of publicity, celebrity, photography, recording and autography, even of and by decent people, hold shut the door through which music might more freely enter.

Explicit or implicit demands from the audience, fans or enthusiasts, to conform to expectations of onstage and offstage behaviour, has taken from me much of the enjoyment to be found in performance. I note with regret that demands for personal attention are usually accompanied by the "right" to make such demands.

Playing music is always a privilege, and joy rightfully and naturally accompanies this play: even, is freely available to anyone present, for merely being present. When autography and photography assume the value of the unfolding performance something has been lost; something has gone very wrong.

Performance is utterly impersonal, yet intimate.

III
David Singleton and I have been involved together with Soundscaping since early 1994 when we began an ongoing project known to us as "The Gates of Paradise". Gradually we approached the gates but were not able to find a way through until the Southbank performances of March 1996. The door opened in the middle of the series, at around six o'clock on the Saturday evening. Our experience of being on the other side of the threshold has changed our relationship with Soundscapes, which in turn has changed Soundscapes.

Our understanding changes what we understand. The object of our understanding then requires from us in turn a new understanding. When this takes place - in the moment that music flies by - process and content become inseparable: the act of music IS the music. The musician and audience are not so much playing and listening, or "doing" music: they are BEING music.

IV
This performance is our second realtime Sonic Installation. The first was part of the Futuremusic Symposium organised by Michael Morris of Cultural Industry which took place over the four consecutive days of March 7-10th. 1996. The performance times were Thursday 18-22.00; Friday 18-20.00; Saturday 13-15.00, 16.30-22.00; and Sunday 18-22.00. David and Hugh set up a quadrophonic sound system, devised and constructed the preceding day by David Singleton, in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank, London. The cabinets were angled to reflect sound off the walls, and include the materials of the building itself in the performance.

The audience were free to sit, lie, wander, drink, eat, listen, not listen, go to sleep, interrogate the music; that is, to participate to whatever degree and in whatever fashion they wished. Some of the audience encountered us by accident while walking to and from other events within the facility, or in the bathroom. How any of us responded to this was open to the individual. There were signs asking for no recording or photography. Sadly, this request was violated.

I have never played such a long, demanding performance schedule. After a period of concentration, I would leave the carpet and perhaps ask Hugh or David what to play next. One of Hugh's more oblique comments was to "play blue".

Long performances force the performer to move beyond their competence. It becomes impossible to act purely professionally. We have to take the leap; to make the leap, we have to drop our baggage; without the baggage, small openings are big enough. At the end of Saturday afternoon, and the beginning of Saturday evening, the gate opened. Sometimes God hides, and sometimes God waves.

Extended Soundscape performances also have the advantage of giving us the time that any particular Soundscape needs to evolve, develop and move to places of its own necessity; and to allow the audience a chance to discover different ways of involving itself within the event.

Our two installation performances have felt gentler than the traditional concerts of my experience. There is not the same demand which characterises the European concert tradition, of artists mounting the stage and declaiming, impressing, strutting, virtuositising; nor the sense of division between music, musician and audience; neither the fixity of place, nor distraction of audience movement from a specific position. Yet it is just as possible for music to lean over and take us into its confidence. Not all the gates to Paradise are at the front of the building.

V
We were scheduled to set off at 09.30 on Thursday 21st. November from Discipline World Central, near Salisbury, to Green Park Station in Bath. David had forgotten to tell Hugh when we were leaving, so we left at 10.40. The venue, a decommissioned railway station, is now an entrance to craft stalls and a Sainsbury's supermarket. The platform columns displayed posters announcing the performance as ongoing between 12.30 and 20.30. Hugh had forgotten to tell me the performance times.

We began at 13.40, exactly punctual had we been on time.

A small coterie of enthusiasts, a parade of accidental audients, a running playing dog, mothers and children, Peter Hammill and Michael Giles (both local residents), various persons hovering to engage in conversation with the performer despite the performer's obvious commitment to performing, an elderly irate gentleman who leaned over the railings demanding a diminution of amplitude, a reporter with camera from the local newspaper: these and more were our audience.

It was very cold. Regularly we would warm ourselves with hot chocolate or savage beasts of capuccini from the Green Park Restaurant, and I would walk around the platform to appraise the sound. At 14.20 we found our sense of place, musically and sonically. David repositioned the speakers, directing the sound outwards from the quad performance area, using the walls to reflect and deflect the sound. The quad system was effectively two different and simultaneous stereo performances, separate but interrelated (except on one occasion), and comparable to two different ensembles playing at opposite ends of the platform.

The organisers - Derek Pierce and the Bath Guitar Festival - as well as Hugh and David, received dozens of complaints, possibly more than one hundred. Nominally, these focused on the volume. One stall holder threw up. Our overall impression was that it would be better for us to stop, and even better to stop very soon. So at around 16.40 we closed down the sound, which was not actually loud, three hours into the projected event with an unsatisfied 3'50" to go.

David and Hugh packed up the equipment, and I did my grocery shopping at Sainsbury's.

VI
This record is a precis of the three hours' music, and of four sound sources into two. It is true to the music of the event, but it is also a translation. The time, place and circumstances of listening are different: music is only one part of a musical event. If an audient of this record were also at Green Park Station, they might be interested in comparing their experience of both. Our experience is ours, and it makes its own contribution. If you listen to this record with some attention a connection may be made with the music, and your experience of Soundscapes will change. This in turn will change Soundscapes. How this happens is part of music's mystery. Music must be heard for it to become real, and to be born into our world.

Some music sounds like people listen to it.

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