a recipe

Soup kitchen during General Miners Strike, 1926 c., Walsall Wood


 Soup is fundamental. The best soups usually just happen. An old bone, some celery tops, anything forgotten, discarded, remembered, left-over, ridiculous can become a soup. Soup is anything. Everything. Necessity, play, and inspired improvisation are its only requirements, as in all good cooking. The following is a description in the form of a recipe of a soup made by Musica Elettronica Viva in the fall of 1968 in its studio in Rome.

Take one large room – empty and clean it. Place in it:

1 large steel drum;
1 old upright piano (with player);
1 R.A. Moog Synthesizer (with player);
1 homemade synthesizer;
2 large resonant glass plates;
1 Agip 5 liter lubricant can (empty);
1 East African thumb piano;
1 chromatic toy piano;
1 set of glass wind chimes (8-40 cm in length);
3-4 TV aerial poles of varying lengths (suspended);
6 diverse suspended cymbals;
3 tuned Indian cymbals;
3 camel bells;
1 set of bongos;
3-4 old cow or goat bells;
1 wood block;
1 set of sleigh bells;
1 toy xylophone;
3-4 slide whistles of varying ranges;
1 duck call;
1 English police whistle;
1 siren whistle;
1 Yugoslavian double pipe;
4-5 assorted bird calls;
3 Jews harps;
3 diatonic harmonicas;
2 bandoneons;
1 soprano trumpet (with player);
1 soprano sax (with player);
1 sopranino sax (with player);
1 violin (with player);
1 violoncello (with player);
1 trombone (with player);
1 flugelhorn (with player);
several assorted pots, pans, metal covers, tin cans, springs, electric bells and buzzers, metal sheets, percussion sticks and mallets, plastic scrapers, ping pong balls, and bottles;
2 tape recorders;
1 radio;
1 short range radio transmitter and receiver;
5 air microphones;
20 contact mics. and cheap Japanese mic. mixers connected to 2 Uher mixers connected to 2 amplifiers connected to 4 good loudspeakers.

To the already indicated players, add a small number of invited player-friends. Slowly add up to 30 listener spectators. Gradually blend the players with the listeners until all become a harmonious mixture, indistinguishable from the sounds they make or hear. Bring to a boil slowly and simmer for 2-3 hours.

Alvin Curran

The M.E.V. studio
Rome, Feb. 1969

Published as "Thoughts on Soup—A Recipe" in The Drama Review 14, no. 1 (Fall 1969): 97; in Italian as "Ultimi pensieri sulla minestra-una ricetta," Almanacco Musica 2, Bertoncelli/Bolelli, Il Formichiere, Milano, 1979; p.21; and as "Last Thoughts on Soup—A Recipe" in The New Generation of Mystery:  Künstler des XXI. Jahrhunderts , Maria de Alvear, ed., p. 54.

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