subota, 4. svibnja 2013.

David Rothenberg - Bug Music (2013)

Bug Music | David Rothenberg

Autor knjige Zašto ptice pjevaju stvara i muziku u suradnji s pticama, kitovima, a ovaj put i kukcima. Klarinet, saksofon, cvrčci, zrikavci...
Eko-animalni pop.

On Bug Music, clarinet and soprano saxophone player David Rothenberg communes with all manner of insect creatures, from cicadas and crickets to katydids and engraver beetles. It's not the first time the ECM recording artist has turned his attention to the natural world: he's the author of the book-CD project Why Birds Sing and the book Thousand Mile Song, which concerns music-making with whales, and now brings us the seventy-minute Gruenrekorder CD, released concurrently with the book Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise (St Martins Press).

There has been rhythm on this planet for millions of years longer than humans have opened their mouths to sing.  Long before birds, long before whales, insects have been thrumming, scraping, and drumming complex beats out into the world.  David Rothenberg decided to investigate the resounding beats of cicadas, crickets, katydids, leafhoppers and water bugs in his unusual third foray into music made with and out of the animal world.  After working with birds and whales, he now tackles the minute complex tunes of the entomological universe, building songs live nad in the studio with cicadas who emerge only once every seventeen years, treehoppers who tap complex vibrations onto plant stalks, and a tiny beetle who makes one of the animal world’s loudest sounds by vibrating its penis underwater.
He is joined by guitarist Robert Jürjendal, who’s worked with Fripp and Eno, Timothy Hill of the Harmonic Choir, Umru Rothenberg on iPad, and millions of tapping, screeching, and howling bugs—Hear them before they hear you. -

Three pieces were recorded live in the field and with no overdubbing added, making them particularly pure examples of human-insect interaction. “Magicicada Unexpected Road,” for example, finds the sounds generated by Rothenberg's clarinet and his son Umru's iPad caught within a dense cicada swarm. The other pieces use the insect noises as raw material to be looped and stretched in the studio (the insects's thrumming and scraping lend themselves well to the construction of rhythm backings), with Rothenberg and Jürjendal joining in, sometimes soloing overtop a thick entomological backdrop and other times simulating call-and-response communications with their tiny collaborators. In that regard some interesting moments arise, such as when Rothenberg tries to respond to the irregular rhythms generated by three-humped treehoppers (“Treehop”).
It would be easy for the project concept to overshadow Rothenberg as a musician, but pieces such as “What Makes Them Dance?” and “Riddim Bugz” nicely spotlight his technical abilities as a player, especially when the tunes' laid-back grooves allow him to solo so freely; his decision to play bass clarinet on some of the tracks (e.g., “Kikitara”) is a good one, too, given how well its deep-throated croak complements the insect sounds. The presence of guitarist Robert Jürjendal on four pieces also adds a lot to the recording. He serves up a quasi-psychedelic solo on “Katydid Prehistory” that serves as a nice lead-in to Rothenberg's bluesy reflections, and on “Riddim Bugz” spreads Frisell-esque lines across a regulated mass of crickets and katydids. In essence, the guitar becomes a welcome third voice that adds contrast to the woodwinds and insect noises.
In keeping with the cover image, Rothenberg presents the project with a refreshing degree of irreverence. Oh, he's serious about it, of course, but he's also not averse to seeing its lighter side—how could one do otherwise when one of the sounds comes from the Water Boatman, a tiny underwater beetle who produces its loud thrum by vibrating its penis underwater (to which Rothenberg dryly comments, “Do not try this at home”). He's no fanatical purist either who views the alteration of insect sounds as some kind of heinous violation; in reference to to “Glynwood Nights,” for instance, he's upfront about having slowed down the live outdoors recording in order to better reveal the subtleties of the human-insect interactions. Elsewhere, he's not averse to including electronics to, as he says, “outbug the real work of bugs, so close to the oscillators and filters of electronic music are the mechanisms of our ancient little friends.”  -

We praise thee auspicious Cicada, enthroned like a king On the tree’s summit, thou cheer’st us with exquisite song… Free from suffering, though hast neither blood nor flesh – What is there prevents thee from being a god?
Written in the first century BC, these lines by the Greek poet Anacreon are the earliest recorded example of insect praise. Attributing god-like status to his singing friend, Anacreon recognises its difference from other life on Earth. In a later age he may have asked “what prevents thee from being a machine?”
When Sublime Frequencies released Tucker Martine’s album of insect field recordings, Broken Hearted Dragonflies: Insect Electronica From Southeast Asia in 2004, many listeners refused to believe that the glitchy, buzzing tones on the CD hadn’t originated in a laptop or a synthesiser. Conversely, anyone listening to David Tudor’s Rainforest for the first time might easily be persuaded that they were hearing actual field recordings from the Amazon jungle.
“Some hear bug music, some hear people music, all depends on your ears” wrote the 19th century Japanese poet Wâfu. This epigram opens David Rothenberg’s new book Bug Music, which explores this overlap between natural and synthetic, insect and human-made sound.
“If you like electronic music, you will like insect sounds,” says Rothenberg. “Bug music is electronic music, there is a deep, important connection here. People have loved insect sounds for many thousands of years. Prehistoric people, and Neanderthals, would probably have loved analogue synthesizers.”
Rothenberg himself is rhapsodic about insect sounds and, as with his previous investigations of bird and whale song, he set out to perform alongside a range of insect musicians: “the snowy tree cricket is one of the simplest and most beautiful… the cicadas among the most intense and gripping, while the treehoppers’ vibrational taps are among the most astonishingly complex.” All these collaborations can be heard on the Bug Music companion CD.
Bug Music encompasses an incredible breadth of scale, from the great – the mysterious 17-year incubation cycle of the Magicicada, a monstrous brood of which will hatch in New York State early this summer – to the very, very small – the molecular sounds recorded inside the brains of mosquitos at Clarkson University in New York. “I want readers and listeners to consider rhythm and noise at all possible scales of human awareness,” says Rothenberg, “from the microscopic to the macrocosmic.
"That's why I found Curtis Roads' granular synthesis so compelling – the granular dimension of time is the secret of bug music. Dividing sounds into tiny 'grains' can have huge implications for the re-conceiving of all human thought and our place in the universe… when I mentioned that to Roads he said, ‘don't get too carried away!’”
Rothenberg encourages readers to open up to an expanded sense of what music can be, and from this he hopes we might encounter an expanded sense of our surroundings. The implicit message is that retuning oneself to think differently about music might be beneficial on multiple levels: to each of us individually, to humankind as a species and, perhaps, even to the planet as a whole.
“Listening to nature can be a gateway towards listening to experimental music, but listening to and enjoying experimental music can also be a gateway towards listening to the sounds of nature.”
Humankind’s ability to empathise with and understand the needs of other species is one of our greatest talents, and listening to them is just one part of that. “We know so little about the sensory world of other creatures,” says Rothenberg, “nature is still a giant book waiting to be opened, translated, and deciphered; or, if you see it as music, it can be listened to and interacted with.”
Bug Music: How Insects Gave us Rhythm and Noise is published by St Martin’s Press. More details on the book here, and on the CD here.

Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise
St. Martins Press, 2013
In the spring of 2013 the cicadas in the Northeastern United States will yet again emerge from their seventeen-year cycle—the longest gestation period of any animal. Those who experience this great sonic invasion compare their sense of wonder to the arrival of a comet or a solar eclipse. This unending rhythmic cycle is just one unique example of how the pulse and noise of insects has taught humans the meaning of rhythm, from the whirr of a cricket’s wings to this unfathomable and exact seventeen-year beat.

In listening to cicadas, as well as other humming, clicking, and thrumming insects, Bug Musicconsiders the radical notion that we humans got our idea of rhythm, synchronization, and dance from the world of insect sounds that surrounded our species over the millions of years over which we evolved.

Completing the trilogy he began with Why Birds Sing and Thousand Mile SongDavid Rothenbergexplores a unique part of our relationship with nature and sound—the music of insects that has provided a soundtrack for humanity throughout the history of our species. Bug Music continues Rothenberg’s in-depth research and spirited writing on the relationship between human and animal music, and it follows him as he explores insect influences in classical and modern music, plays his saxophone with crickets and other insects, and confers with researchers and scientists nationwide.

This engaging and thought-provoking book challenges our understanding of our place in nature and our relationship to the creatures surrounding us, and makes a passionate case for the interconnectedness of species.
"I loved this book. It's inspiring, fascinating, and funny. Bug Music is a foray into another world."—Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven and Winter World

"A veritable tour de force of delightful and provocative meanderings that circle about, crisscross, and combine to illuminate the primal connection between insect sound and the human sense of rhythm, music, and noise."  —Lang Elliott,, author of The Songs of Insects
"David Rothenberg is like the Greil Marcus of nature. No one writes about the sounds of the wild so smartly, so evocatively, so beautifully. Bug Music is tremendous."—Tom Bissell, author of Chasing the Sea and Magic Hours

“Charmingly conversational, filled with wondrous facts and touching personal reflections, Bug Music will make you think differently about bugs, about music, and about the intersection of the two.”  —Marlene Zuk, author of Sex on Six Legs and Paleofantasy
“As a musician and a scientist, I was fascinated by the parallels between the songs of the cicada and the human. Rothenberg is a great conductor in Bug Music, bringing out the melodies and harmonies, and exposing the mysteries, in the great insect orchestra that surrounds us. A must read for all who question and seek our place in nature.”—Daniel Chamovitz, author of What a Plant Knows

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“Fabulous entomological jazz: David Rothenberg draws together disparate strands of inspiration and writes a new song, full of unexpected riffs and harmonies. Bug Music is a thought-provoking celebration of the acoustic bonds between humans and our insect cousins.”—David George Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen
“In the author’s words, ‘We are all connected through the vast music of life.’ Rothenberg’s engaging prose not only inspires us to seek those connections, but to open our ears to the music of insects, to whose tune we all may be dancing.”
—John Himmelman, author of Cricket Radio
“Bug Music is a cool groove of biology, music, and human culture from an interspecies musician and scholar fully in tune with nature.  It is engaging, wide-ranging, and profound in suggesting that the thrum of insects is a primordial musical beat.  This book is for everyone who has ever marveled at nature or delighted in the sounds of her insect choirs, and especially for those who have done neither.”—John Marzluff, author of Dog Days, Raven Nights and Gifts of the Crow

“Bug Music reflects an undeniable worldwide trend— from ‘vibing’ with trees, birds, insects, night skies and sunsets, humans are beginning to tune into the phenomenon of our cosmos’s subtle realms.  Hopefully this is part of our shift to a better world.”—Kurt Johnson, author of Nabokov’s Blues

David Rothenberg has written and performed on the relationship between humanity and nature for many years.  He is the author of Why Birds Sing, on making music with birds, also published in England, Italy, Spain, Taiwan, China, Korea, and Germany. It was turned into a feature length BBC TV documentary.  His following book, Thousand Mile Song, is on making music with whales.  It is being developed into a film for the French television, hopefully to be broadcast worldwide.Other books include Sudden MusicBlue Cliff RecordHand’s End, and Always the Mountains. His book on the evolution of beauty, and how art and science can be better intertwined, is Survival of the Beautifulpublished by Bloomsbury in 2011.  There have been nice reviews in the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, and theTelegraph.  His latest book on insects and music, along with a companion CD, will be published in April 2013 by St. Martins Press, called Bug Music.
Rothenberg is also a composer and jazz clarinetist, and he has nine CDs out under his own name, including On the Cliffs of the Heart, named one of the top ten CDs byJazziz Magazine in 1995.  Other recent releases include Why Birds Sing and Whale Music.  Recently released is Whale Music Remixed, with contributions from noted electronic artists such as Scanner, DJ Spooky, Lukas Ligeti, Mira Calix, Ben Neill, and Robert Rich.  His first CD on ECM Records, with pianist Marilyn CrispellOne Dark Night I Left My Silent House came out in May 2010.
Le Monde called it “une petite miracle.”  Svenske Dagbladet in Stockholm gave it six stars, its highest rating.  The Guardian heard “the clarinet subtleties of Jimmy Giuffre and the tonal adventurousness of Joe Maneri.”  All About Jazz heard “sublime depth and intuition.”  Morgenbladet says we “make improvised music melodious and catchy.”  Sueddeutsche Zeitung praises our “wonderful craft and subtlety.”  BBC Music Magazine said “if these pieces were pre-composed they’d be categorised as chamber music of a high order.”
The record was launched in the USA at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York on June 22nd, 2010.  It’s now available on iTunes and Amazon.
In 2011 Rothenberg released three new CDs.  The first, a duet with keyboardist Lewis Porter, is Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast.  Next is a duet with British electronic music wizard Scanner, called You Can’t Get There From Here.  Back home in the Hudson Valley, Rothenberg produced a record of more popular music with his friends in Cold Spring, Painted Betty.
Rothenberg’s recent conversation with Laurie Anderson on animals and music at the Explorers Club is online here.
A recent concert he performed with Jaron Lanier in London can be viewed here.
Rothenberg collaborated with Tessa Farmer on an art installation based on seventeen year cicadas at the Science Gallery in Dublin which can be viewed here.
His performance of Chapter 79 of Moby Dick as part of the Big Read project is here.

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