Armies of microcosmic winged-envelope generators.
Sawed-off-tooth modulation.
When the sea retreats back to itself, as it dies on the shore line it "fries" the sand.
Two cats making love in the garden took all afternoon, what an opera.
What about hotel plumbing? Can you tell if you're listening to Paris or Rome?
Made a magnificent recording in Antwerp of a pile-driver at 3 am from my hotel window, only forgot to press the record button.
My Uher Report got stolen in Florence - replaced it with a Stellavox.
Been recording this pine tree in La Serra now for some five years - last year a fly kept walking around on the wind-screen - fly footsteps, what next?
Someone suggested putting a contact mike on a high tension pylon, to record the music of the singing wires.
They said they wanted the sound of primeval magma, so I went home and cooked some thick pea-soup with an old condenser mike nearly in the soup pot, and slowing it down by half. They liked it.
Footsteps on streets, stairs, gravel, sand, in water, grass, on leaves, beaches, boardwalks, empty hallways, tunnels, crowded subway stations, in the Chantilly forest, inside La Cupola, at Harmony Ranch in Connecticut. Laughing stoned in Baden-Baden/ making love in the Grand Hotel de France.
The Berlin U-Bahn from Kreuzberg to Bahnhof Zoo.
Geese attack microphone at Villa Scragg in Florence.
Maryanne Amacher and Clifford the parrot had a long talk about world problems.
At Harmony Ranch we had mikes all over the house (inside and out), after supper some guy said, "You wanna hear me throw up?" and he went outside in front of one of the mikes and vomited.
The muffler of Serge Tcherepnin's car.
Edith singing Ravel's Bolero off key all day while she painted.
The fact is: there's no sound that can't be mixed with another / there's no criteria - you just do it. To those of us who abhor "power," operating an audio mixer may be the closest we will ever get to controlling or commanding anything.
"This is the voice of Jacob Burckhardt."
MEV in a pizzeria in Louvain after our concert which ended with the students setting fire to the student union - eggplant in all languages.
Four plainclothesmen jumped out of an unmarked car, said "police" - there I was with a shotgun mike, tape recorder, headphones at midnight on a deserted country road - must have looked like a martian to these guys - so they made me "come along" to the nearest headquarters to prove to them that I was myself.
As a young boy in Providence I'd lay awake late at night and listen to the freight-train screech and boom couplings that went on in the train yard 2 miles away - no way to record that now. Sometimes a tug-boat in the murky Providence River would make it "stereo."
Heard our wooden clapboard house groan in fear in a few hundred mile/hour hurricane winds.
Caspar (our beloved dachshund) fell in love with a bitch in heat in Piazza Navona - when we came home he sang his heart out for hours - nothing to do but record it.
Later this became the beginning of "PRAIRIES," in which I sing with the dog tracks.
There was a singing water-valve in Via dei Coronari in Rome that performed all night - I managed to record it before they fixed it - it became a whole film score, and appears in nearly all my pieces.
About birds: it's a question of getting there before they do and hiding - their music is usually worth the wait. Been after one in Liguria that sounds like Charlie Parker on a liquid alto flute. Haven't seen it yet either.
The spring peepers will stop singing if they hear you but then take up again as if nothing happened - are they recording us in the silences?
A tough type spotted me recording the bowling balls and pins in a Times Square joint, "Hey you, there ain't no photographing nor recording in here." I said: "What's that?" and he repeated it closer into the microphone as I was moving to go out.
A policeman in Bolzano once asked me if I had a permit, as he saw me recording the arrival of a rare old choo-choo train engine - I said: "No, it's for a film." he said "O.K."
As I was recording myself peeing in the outhouse, this bee flew in to check it out making an unexpected duet.
The sky was suddenly black with bees but by the time I ran to set up my gear, they had safely transfered the queen to a nest in the next yard.
The lone oriole became the beginning of a new version of FIORI CHIARI FIORI OSCURI.
With MEV in Nethen (Belgium) we were all very stoned one night and went out to sing into a 60 foot well. Someone had a big ride-cymbal with them and it slipped and fell to the bottom; we all stopped singing, to hear its tragic but magnificent careening voyage to the bottom- the dutch drummer to whom it belonged was not amused but listened with forgiveness to the cassette tape that happened to be made. Since 1966 I have recorded everywhere I have lived, the places I have gone, and much of what I have done. The affinity to fim making is obvious, yet it always turned into music.
During an MEV concert at the Musee d'Art Moderne in Paris the whole public gravitated toward the vast cavernous sounding toilets, singing and playing. I had a trumpet in one hand and a microphone in the other (connected to my old Uher).
Sometimes 1968 seems further away than all other years.
The finch was a sitting duck.
Film: a source - a catalyst for experimental soundscapes. A documentary on the paintings of Max Ernst inspired a score made out of tin cans rolling down a hilly street, bicycle spokes, glass chimes, and someone "playing" a squeaky leather chair.
Water - the main subject of my very first tape piece, WaterColormusic, made for a show of my companion Edith Schloss’s watercolors; the theme for Perlini's theater version of Othello: long sequences of my footsteps in late night Venice, water lapping against the hollow-sounding gondolas. In the same repertory: corrugated plumbing and electrical tubing, ping pong balls (a documentary on Italian prisons), goat bells, pin-ball machines, New York steam heat, tropical birds at the London Zoo, a fly trapped against the window pane, an electric water heater.
For resonant train wheels and tracks, point the microphone into the toilet bowl of a moving train.
Moving things: pine needles, eucalyptus leaves, Florence by night, New York cobble stones, Sardinian goats, Carrara marble saws, tourists shuffling through the Uffizzi galleries, MEV in a bus on the Autobahn, dogs in the night, Pescara fishing fleets.
Flying things: bumble bees in the gladiolas, swallows at dawn in Piazza Navona, southern wind through the window frame, tennis shoe speeding through a pane of glass, beehives being honeyed. Young crows getting flying lessons, El Al plane, plane landing in Hebrew and English at Kennedy airport.
Still things: Roman street musician strumming a mandolin in one hand and playing a laurel leaf with the other.
Amsterdam organ grinders alla Charles Ives.
Italian housewives singing in the courtyard.
Giotto's bell tower.
A pile of stones.

I have been recording, collecting, composing, and manipulating natural sounds since 1966. This has become a characteristic of my music, both improvised and composed.

My first tape piece is WATERCOLOR MUSIC, made primarily of sounds of water, then comes A DAY IN THE COUNTRY (1967) a 70 minute piece tracing the course of one day from dawn. All of the solo performance pieces have extensive taped "soundscapes."


Alvin Curran, Rome, April 1978


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