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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 08:46 am:   

This isn't really about interstitiality, but deals with some of the topics that have been discussed already.

I know that some emotions (happy, sad, angry) seem to be understandable across styles of music, although it's not universal (as Veronica's experiences demonstrate). But what about other things that music can convey?

There are certain pieces of music that conjure very strong images in my mind. I wonder how much of this is based on knowledge of the title, composer or intent. What if I was introduced to the piece simply by hearing it, with no additional information? Would I still get the same imagery?

In an attempt to answer this, I have an entirely unscientific survey. If you do not mind, please go to

http://robertdevereux.com/experiment

and listen to the mp3s. I'v stripped the name and information from them, so just the music is there. Most of the pieces are rock/electronic, but one is classical (I think Des might recognize it). After listening, please go to

http://robertdevereux.com/contact.php

and let me know what imagery came to your mind. I'd prefer to have it done privately, so nobody else reading this would get influenced by the thoughts of others.

I am curious to see what people imagine while listening to the pieces, if they come up with similar thoughts to me, or whether my impressions are colored by knowledge of the title or other information.
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des
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 11:28 am:   

Blow! My computer doesn't have sound, Robert. But an interesting experiment. Is Cage on there?
des
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 05:40 am:   

Des, I don't have any Cage on there. He's still absent from my very small classical collection.

If you want to send me your address, I could make a CDR of the tracks and send it to you.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 07:50 am:   

That's rather kind of you, Robert. I'm sure the whole issue will have died out by the time I receive them, listen to them and reply - but I'll be very pleased to participate, if I can.
I don't have Outlook Express on my computer either (!) - so as to enable me to find your email address from clicking on your name above.
Can you please send your email address to me at:
nemonymous@hotmail.com
with 'egnis' as the subject.
Thanks so much for the offer.
des
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des
Posted on Tuesday, December 09, 2003 - 01:07 pm:   

Thanks, Robert for the music – just received. And just had my first hearing. Let me say that I usually treat music, as far as possible, as a pure experience, music for music’s sake, without programming it. That said here below 'SPOILERS' are my initial reactions. (BTW, I recognise none of this music. And I really enjoyed this ‘innocent ear’ experience you kindly granted me with a CD sent from USA to UK - and that you granted others with the computer download)


THOSE INTENDING TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS EXPERIMENT PLEASE DO NOT READ BELOW SPOILERS BELOW.
SPOILERS
SPOILERS
SPOILERS
SPOILERS
SPOILERS
SPOILERS
SPOILERS













1. East Europeans singing (Arvo Part?) – hammer horror or wicker man.
2. Echoey Spanish music – aeroplane fading into the distance, later to crash?
3. Static on radio – schoolyard skipping seen from a distance – insect scratching inside my skull – Twin Peaks-type music – then eighties-style Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – followed by string chamber music. That aeroplane from the earlier music is perhaps approaching, looming towards the kids in the schoolyard.
4. This is in my usual area of modern ‘classical’ music, strongly reminding me of Kancheli, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring,, Varese’s Ameriques, Per Norgard and even Vaughan Williams coupled with a quiet moment from Star Wars. Someone is definitely crying in my mind. Like a jack-in-the-box that has lost its spring – then ranging around on the loose looking for it. Electronic music feel without being electronic.
5. Ghosts choking. Clint Eastwood/Spaghetti Western – Muslim chant.
6. Aeroplanes communicating. Which is the wounded aircraft? Twin Peaks again. Then a Red Indian Wardance as seen through the eyes of Jane Austen.
7. Liked this one least of all. Nondescript. Nothing came to mind. A bit like Pink Floyd? Then an Irish jig. Degeneration into something I often hear on the John Peel Show in UK.
8. Heavy Metal? (An aeroplane crashing must bear too much heavy metal?) Thrash like Napalm Death. Monsters. Very exciting, despite not being my usual cup of tea (despite owning a Napalm Death CD myself!).. My wife was very annoyed at the noise of this one blasting through the house.

I’d try to formulate a gestalt of all eight. A figure of eight. It needs its spring-loading. Screwing up like clockwork and releasing. Satanic Verses, that’s it. Falling from an aeroplane, amid the partwork chanting. Twins toppling through the sky through veils and piques of existence. The propellers slow and grind to a halt, tangling metal, coils loosening. A Rite of Spring. Peeled pink pasta like flesh. Falling, crying, wailing, electrocution as a cowpoke stares up into the sky, hand above his eyes to shade them or is he saluting?
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, December 09, 2003 - 04:20 pm:   

Since nobody else has expressed interest in this, I don't mind posting my initial thoughts on the music. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

1. East Europeans singing (Arvo Part?) – hammer horror or wicker man.

This one was by Ulver. The title is something in Norwegian that I don't understand (Djtenjor Gol Og Vejtenjor Maane). To me, it conjured images of being alone in a forest. I think Hammer or Wicker Man could be along a similar line, but still a little different from my ideas.

2. Echoey Spanish music – aeroplane fading into the distance, later to crash?

This was Marillion - Winter Trees. I envisioned walking in a forest in the snow. Based on the different opinions, this may be one of those songs where the title influenced my ideas on the music.

3. Static on radio – schoolyard skipping seen from a distance – insect scratching inside my skull – Twin Peaks-type music – then eighties-style Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – followed by string chamber music. That aeroplane from the earlier music is perhaps approaching, looming towards the kids in the schoolyard.

This is Ulver again, Speak Dead Speaker. I think this may be my knowledge of their other output coloring my thoughts. Their previous album was Perdition City and struck me as the soundtrack of somebody wandering through a city on a rainy night. This is more sparse than PC, so I imagined moving from a city full of people to a ghost town, passing buildings but knowing nobody occupies them.

4. This is in my usual area of modern ‘classical’ music, strongly reminding me of Kancheli, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring,, Varese’s Ameriques, Per Norgard and even Vaughan Williams coupled with a quiet moment from Star Wars. Someone is definitely crying in my mind. Like a jack-in-the-box that has lost its spring – then ranging around on the loose looking for it. Electronic music feel without being electronic.

This was Haunted Landscape by George Crumb. It's one of those pieces that really seems appropriate to horror movie scores. The eerie feeling of being in a haunted place, and then violent burts of brass when something happens (a chair moves on it's own, somebody passes behind me, a loud noise in another room).

5. Ghosts choking. Clint Eastwood/Spaghetti Western – Muslim chant.

This is Naervaer with a song called To Plan. I imagined a group of cowboys gathering around a campfire at night. A lot of their other songs would be appropriate to a spaghetti western. This seems to be the only one we had similar ideas on.

6. Aeroplanes communicating. Which is the wounded aircraft? Twin Peaks again. Then a Red Indian Wardance as seen through the eyes of Jane Austen.

This is something a friend just wrote for a video game called Tamaghis. It's going to be an online shooter game set in Burroughs's Interzone. I had envisioned those cop movies where the cop is cautiously chasing somebody through back alleys.

7. Liked this one least of all. Nondescript. Nothing came to mind. A bit like Pink Floyd? Then an Irish jig. Degeneration into something I often hear on the John Peel Show in UK.

Ulver again. Porn Piece or the Scars of Cold Kisses (I don't pretend to understand some of their song titles). This one was from Perdition City and made me think of walking streets and alleyways on a rainy night. I wonder if I would have thought the same thing if I hadn't known the album title.

8. Heavy Metal? (An aeroplane crashing must bear too much heavy metal?) Thrash like Napalm Death. Monsters. Very exciting, despite not being my usual cup of tea (despite owning a Napalm Death CD myself!).. My wife was very annoyed at the noise of this one blasting through the house.

This was Isis, the song is The Other. It's from an album called Oceanic. A few parts of the song do make me think of the ocean, adrift on waves, and then the really heavy parts, waves pounding me against rocks.


After reading your thoughts, I do think my knowledge of the title, band or album title did contribute significantly towards what I thought of the music. We had very different ideas on most of the songs. The only ones we were even remotely similar on were ones that I had no real knowledge of the meaning (due to the title, album name and singing being in Norwegian).

It seems the act of titling a song or album can contribute a lot to what I think of a song (and likely other people too). This could be valuable, by priming the listener to imagine certain things. But isn't it more effective if the images can be conjured by the sound alone? Is it a weakness if the title is needed to get people imagining the same thing the author had in mind?


That gestalt of all eight is interesting.

By the way, I should be able to start on Nemonymous 3 now (I finally caught up on my reading). Thanks for sending it.
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des
Posted on Sunday, December 14, 2003 - 05:38 am:   

Hi, Robert,
Surreptitiously, I played your eclectic CD over a family Sunday lunch today - and conversation soon turned towards it, particularly to the Crumb. This will become, I'm sure, one of my favourite CDs.
Pity nobody else joined in with the experiment.
des
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des
Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2004 - 12:05 pm:   

Robert Devereux,
I'd just like to say that I've been playing again and again the CD you compiled for me. And I find it endlessly and deepeningly fascinating. It's become part of my life.
Thanks again.
des
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des
Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2004 - 01:08 pm:   

Good heavens, I've just noticed it's almost exactly a year since the last post! Time flies.
des
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Sunday, December 19, 2004 - 09:35 am:   

I'm glad you're enjoying it still. I haven't listened to the music on it much lately.

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