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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ivan's Choice or Betta Kinda Horns: Philip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble

Discovered thanking Ivan's good taste and "BlowUp!" magazine...

... a disc (the red sticker one in attached pixes) issued in mid-60s which I learned to love... it's black, proto-funky jazz with a seldom heard groove... a sexy, sexy music to die for.

"On the beach" track is something to listen to... it's relaxed music, yet digging in the deepest deepness of soul... ancient kalimba melodies in Chicago's AACM/Art Ensemble of Chicago/Lester Bowie-ish horns sauce, in Sun Ra and his Arkestra tradition, before the flood (Earth, Wind and Fire;-)))

Philip Cohran on Wikipedia

P.S. - by chance, see him alive in perfect A.A.C.M.'s style full horn-ensemble on next Dec. 18th at Teatro Manzoni in Milan

Lucky enough who'll attend at this very concert.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

... horns' horn... aehm... porn: an almost complete photographic review, at last...

Already (partially) seen in "6Moons" website and somewhere else on the WEB, including Roman's Forum - which also recently undusted this quite dated, yet intriguing topic... only ask myself and wonder why, ohhh why, people (in the here below attached link) ONLY talk about "COST" of the installation and not about "SOUND"?!?

Soooo sad also looking at such an economic (audio) involvement with simply stacked stuffs like would do a zit-plagued teenager with his system... akin a ghetto blaster on steroids; why not thinking for a separate rear room for tube-amps and assorted gears? And that upright piano on left side of the room... makes me shivering thinking at the vibes inducted by BIG horns... and again those BIG tubes near... better, in front of the subbass horns... feedback and microphonicity a go-go... and why not a better cables routing?

Also chatting about the "half-vagina shaped" (scorpion tail) mid-low horn would have more sense... am I ill, doctor;-))))?!?

BTW: the Viva tube amps are (hand)made in my area, Northern Italy, by a former, ex-colleague of mine...

I hope the owner - living in Arizona, USA I guess - was able to fine tune this system: not an easy task, also considering the above.

I sincerely wish he did it.

Horns' Porn (with some jealousy limited to the yard, ALE's drivers and true straight bass horn)

Paul Geremia or living of music

Paul Geremia
By Rick Massimo
(Journal Pop Music Writer)

"Paul Geremia (at left, with sun-glasses, circa 1970), played with Pink Anderson, at Anderson’s home in South Carolina. Geremia coaxed him into some recording sessions and gigs in New England.
Paul Geremia says that his latest recording, a DVD, isn’t an instructional video. Strictly speaking, he’s right. On the other hand, any viewer will learn something important from it — whether they play guitar or not.

For more than 40 years, Geremia has kept the songs, stories and spirit of the country blues alive through recordings and concerts that double as history lessons. Acoustic Guitar magazine has called Geremia “one of the best country blues finger-pickers ever.” The Folk and Music Exchange calls Geremia “a one-of-a-kind artist.”

Guitar Artistry of Paul Geremia: Six & Twelve-String Blues helps preserve the music and the lore, with nearly two hours of the Rhode Island bluesman playing solo acoustic blues by artists such as Blind Willie McTell, The Rev. Gary Davis, Pink Anderson and more, as well as telling the stories of meeting his heroes, and of their influence.

Producer Stefan Grossman says, “Paul has been playing for the past 40, 45 years, and he’s really developed his own sound and his own approach to playing.”

The Guitar Artistry series, which also includes videos by Rory Block, Harry Manx and more, is “a platform and a document to these guitar players who have something to say and are great,” Grossman says. Thanks to the players’ looks into their own history and the history of the music, “you get into the artist’s mind. … And Paul is a great storyteller.”

Grossman says filming, which happened last June, was easy, “Easy. He just took off his shoes and played, one song after the other. I think we ran him into the ground.”

“I hope people can get as much as possible out of it,” Geremia says of the disc. “It’s not an instructional disc per se, but I include a lot of information about my sources when I do a show. That’s part of the history that’s behind the music. I think the fact that I’m interested in history is one of the reasons that I gravitated toward blues, jazz, folk music.”

So before playing Pink Anderson’s “Meet Me in the Bottom,” Geremia tells of finding Anderson living on a dead-end road in Spartanburg, S.C., and setting up some recording sessions and gigs in New England for him, and bringing field folklorist, manager and promoter Dick Waterman along to fetch Anderson. Waterman took some convincing, Geremia remembers on the disc – “I have it on good authority,” Geremia recalls him saying, “that Pink Anderson has been dead for five years.”

Geremia says of Howlin’ Wolf, “He was very tolerant of my enthusiasm,” and displays a chord from Charlie Patton’s “Pony Blues” that Wolf showed him the proper fingering for — a fingering he’d been hunting for for years.

He also tells a bit of his own story – how his first guitar was really bought for his father, in the hopes “he’d be easier to live with,” about how he discovered the music by seeing Mississippi John Hurt at a topical-songs workshop at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival along with Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger and Peter LaFarge.

And about the arc of his own career: “I left school in 1966 to try to make a living playing music,” Geremia says on the disc, “and I’ve been trying ever since.”

And of course there’s the music — the haunting “Statesboro Blues,” the haunted “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” the crazy tempo shifts in “Leaving Blues.” “I can’t feel welcome no matter where I go,” he sings in “Stocking Feet Blues”; “… I’m a stranger here, just come in on the train.”

There are a few of Geremia’s own tunes as well, in which he makes the connection between personal and political lyricism and traditional blues musicianship: “Rain falls on the mountain, rain falls on the sea,” he sings in “Wonderful Affliction”; “Rain falls where it wants to, and now it’s falling down on me.”

And if it all sounds like the music chronicles the struggles, defeats and triumphs of someone doing battle with the larger forces of the world? Well, yeah.

Geremia’s standard crack is that he grew up “in the Providence River Delta” — not exactly the traditionally fertile blues territory. He lived mostly in Johnston, though he went to high school in Providence, and his family also lived on the West Coast for a while.

Even when living in Rhode Island, he moved a number of times, he says, and so, always being the new kid, he kept mostly to himself. He discovered the library. “I discovered books, and reading, and finding out things about stuff that interested me became my way of occupying time.”

He also discovered music. His first instrument was harmonica, but that almost by definition put him in contact with guitar players, and he started learning the ropes from them.

Then came the Mississippi John Hurt's performance. “It was just a summation of everything I liked,” Geremia says now. “And I remember saying to myself, ‘I don’t know what that is, but that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.’ ”

He started playing the country blues, and in 1966, he moved to Cambridge, drawn by the scene at the legendary Club 47. Even then, he says, it was the traditional performers who attracted him. The new wave of folk singer-songwriters were elitists, he says now, spending a lot of time arguing over who had the right to play the blues. “The dilettantes are the most elitist,” he says, speaking of then but also of now.

“Club 47 was like a free education. Every night of the week they had music from a different part of the country. Dollar-fifty admission. And some of the prettiest waitresses.”

A lot of people who say they don’t like blues music cite the plodding, repetitive, generic nature of the structures. In unskilled hands, that’s true. But one of the things that leaps out about Geremia’s playing is the eccentricities he keeps in the music. The country blues, or for that matter solo piano blues by the likes of Piano Red or Meade Lux Lewis, is full of weird twists: an extra measure here, a rubato passage there, a one-line refrain, a riff jammed into the middle of the form. Geremia keeps those in the music, not just because he’s a natural traditionalist (“these are like classical music pieces,” he says on the disc) but because they add interest.

“In my case, it’s not a conscious effort, I don’t think,” he says of his efforts. And his original “Still Thinking About You” shows that he puts those quirks into his own music.

In many forms of traditional music, debates center on whether performers should keep playing the music the way it is or make their own interpretation. Geremia says he comes down in the middle, though what he calls the middle is a demanding spot: Put your own spin on it if it adds something, not if it takes something away. He’s tired of hearing performers say things such as “I like Robert Johnson’s music, but I like doing it my own way.”

“And you hear the guy,” Geremia says, “and what he’s done is just botch it up. He can’t do it anywhere close to the original. He’s covering up his own inability to live up to the musicianship in the original. It’s not a continuation of the process.”

The bluesmen Geremia grew up idolizing — Anderson, Davis, Yank Rachel, John Jackson, Howard Armstrong – are almost all gone now. Most of the people who saw them play are gone as well. The Chicago Blues Festival wants to celebrate the music of Blind John Davis this summer — so they’ve gotten Geremia. Davis would be 100 if he were alive. The kid has become the elder statesman.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Geremia says. He quickly points out that he’s white, whereas most of his heroes were black, and just as quickly points out that race has no correlation with ability to play the blues. “No one has made that statement that I consider to have any kind of credentials. Certainly none of the musicians.” So Geremia continues the process. And the informality of the network of country blues music is as it always was — another reason why the DVD isn’t a straight instructional video.

“If somebody wants to know something, I show them. Because it means they really want to learn. And for me to go up to Skip James and ask him the tuning that he used took a lot of nerve. I was always a shy kid, and I didn’t want to bother anybody. But they were very friendly people. I was fortunate to be in the right place and the right time, so I was able to take advantage of it thanks to the generosity of those guys.”

Ask Geremia about how his life intersects with his music, and it takes a while to get through. He’s clearly more comfortable talking about the weather.

At age 63, Geremia doesn’t hitchhike to gigs as he did in the ’60s and ’70s, but he tours by himself, in a car, with a couple of guitars and a stool in the back seat. He spends a lot of time on people’s couches and in spare rooms when he’s on the road.

One storm, he explains, can wipe out a whole tour if the gigs are all booked on the same latitude. He’s got stories of tornadoes he’s been through in Michigan and New York state, and how “a mean storm — a heavy wind, like you only get in north Texas” can light up the clouds “like Japanese lanterns.”

The past two years, he went on Midwest tours in January, “and both times it was lucky. No bad weather from Texas up to Minnesota.” This year, he set up Midwest tour in December, thinking another January run was pushing his meterological luck. “Sure enough, I hit a snowstorm.”

“It’s just as important to me as to a sailor on the ocean,” he says of the weather. “It makes all the difference between getting by and not getting by.”

He can talk about why so many old bluesmen’s birthdays are given as July 4, 1900 (their births were undocumented, so they didn’t know their birthdays). Why Salvatore Massaro picked Eddie Lang as his stage name (that was the name of the kid who sold newspapers outside the recording studio). How Geremia visited Blind John Davis in Chicago and found his front door had been taken off the hinges and his apartment picked clean (“They took everything but his piano. A blind musician”). Or how going to school with Native Americans in California “gave me my radicalization” and turned him on to American Indian history, and how King Philip’s War “was the beginning of the genocidal process of destroying the American Indian.”

Eventually, in his apartment in Foster, surrounded by books, guitars, 78s, albums and CDs of downloaded music, he gets to the nub of it: “I’ve spent most of my life living alone.”

Geremia was married once – it lasted three or four years, he says. He’s much more affected by what he describes as a common-law marriage that broke up between two and three years ago. “She wasn’t cut out for New England weather,” he says. Living in an uninsulated converted garage in Newport with someone who was on the road half the time was no life for a native Texan. Geremia ran into that north Texas storm he was talking about while heading to get “the good word” from her.

It’s like 83-year-old bluesman Nat Reese told him a week ago, Geremia says: “You gotta remember — people like you and me, we’re a different breed of people. You’re just gonna have to get used to that.”

“But what I tell myself more than anything,” Geremia says, “is now’s the time when you’ve got to show what you’re made of. If you want to sing the blues, you’ve got to live the blues too. And it’s the [expletive] blues. It’s like Son House says, that’s what the blues is about, mainly — difficulty between men and women.”

Or men and the world, no? “More to the point, sure.”

Tell him that his life sounds like one of the songs he sings, and he pauses and says, “Yeah.” Then there’s a silence until he puts on a 78. Lefty Frizzell singing Jimmie Rodgers’s “Traveling Blues” fills the air.

If he’s coming to terms with that, he seems to have come to terms a long time ago with the level of success he’s had. It’s a living, but it’s not a great living. Yet he backed out of a recording contract with Kicking Mule records (which producer Grossman part-owned) about 20 years ago, he says, because they wanted him to do more singer-songwriter-style material, with keyboards and such.

He went his own way. Seeing and knowing great players and performers such as Patrick Sky, Phil Ochs, Tim Hardin and Dave Van Ronk, who reached for and never quite got the brass ring of the music business, “I realized that a lot of these people, if they made any mistake at all, it was in making concessions to the music business, instead of doing things the way they wanted to do it. So I decided that I’m going to do stuff the way I want to do it. If you’re going to fail, there’s no point in failing in addition to giving up on what your own dream is.”

Better to do what one does.

“The music business and the technology go through a lot of changes, but people like the same thing. I think there’s a sense of honesty when you’re doing something you really like to do, and people pick up on it. I don’t have any regrets. I’ve done the best I could do, and it’s just a question of keeping things going as best as I can."

“You pay the price for your ideals,” Geremia says. “You pay the price for being in love. It’s a risk.”


Thanks to Rick for his above essay.

Paul is, truly, an humble master and a living treasure.

BTW... the Tonk Bros. mighty twelve-strings acoustic shown in the attached pix - later also the property of Todd Cambio - served as a model to my own Blazer & Henke Stella Replica ladder-braced guitar, which was also played by Paul himself, while in Europe, for some gigs (see it in attached pix, with an older, sun-glassesless Paul).

Glenn Jones' third recorded effort

I just purchased - as I did with the two previous disks - Glenn's third recording: "Barbeque Bob in Fishtown".

Glenn has a special space in my guitar world, among all my heroes, from John Fahey to Robbie Basho, Janet Smith, Peter Lang, Alex de Grassi, Michael Hedges, Leo Kottke, Michael Gulezian, etc. etc. - he's the "trait d'union" among the (Takoma) old-school, the mid (Windham Hill) and the new generation... well, he's a "young" in his fifties or so (like yours truly), BUT... the respect and fondness he always pays to the above masters and to the truest blues roots... with James Blackshaw, Tony Rose, Glenn himself represents a rooster of a brand new generation of the noblest heritage looking at the steel string guitar as a complete instrument.

The above improvisers and players are giving - as the late Robbie Basho pointed out eons ago "... a following and a dignity to steel strings guitar as a concert instrument...", sooo different from its nylon strings older sister.

Glenn's playing is improving at every disk... after his Cul de Sac's weirdness, his fresh picking, mostly devoted to the mighty, beloved twelve strings acoustic guitar is pure oxygene to my ears.

His surreal, dadaist titling songs and tunes, his great, nice touch are a simple joy for the ears and for the mind.

The disk cover is - as always - a labour of love in itself... - taken from old kid books and postcards from turn of the century.... last century, of course...

An hommage to the already quoted, always missed Robbie Basho - I recognized his address back in the early '80s - Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, California... I went there a couple of times in the years, unfortunately after Robbie's untimely death in Feb. 1986.

His playing is so full of "compassion", it's zillions miles afar from techno-finger-busting-gym playing... he's a tone freak... his guitar can sing... and his "voice" is so clear, shiny and friendly... and someone says a guitar is only a bunch of wooden parts.

A better day, today, after listening to Glenn's third disk...

Thanks, Glenn.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tord Gustavsen Trio's Changing Places on ECM (2003)

While thanking my brother... aehm... friend, Giorgio for hinting this shining gem... here is a review I found on the matter:
"TORD GUSTAVSEN TRIO Changing Places (ECMCD1834)

No, I had never heard of Tord Gustavsen before, either, but it is obvious we are going to hear a lot more of this singular Norwegian pianist. So much wonderful music has been made using the piano/bass/drums combination - so much on this same label, from the likes of Keith Jarrett, Marilyn Crispell, John Taylor and Paul Bley - that one would doubt a new pianist could come along who immediately sounds so utterly distinctive and arresting.
Gustavsen is all that and more. Each and every touch on the keyboard is not just a note being struck, but a carefully sculpted sound of almost breathtaking passion and beauty.
The titles, like the opening and the gorgeous - which is revisited even more alluringly (if that is possible) later in the set - may look soppy on paper, but they become entirely apposite upon hearing the music. We are not talking about watercolour washes and limp gestures here: Gustavsen and his fellow Norwegians (bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad) breathe some soul and fire into everything they do, even as they assiduously leave out all but the most vital notes to tell their entrancing stories.
All compositions are by Gustavsen, and each is a different mode of seduction: has flecks of gospel; boasts an improvisation so rapturous I think I experienced a moment's levitation; is one of those to prove Johnsen can solo with comparable ardour to the leader, and is later revisited as a delightful solo-piano conclusion to the album; has a sly bounce to it.
The longest piece, , has a melody that Beethoven may have been proud to pen, against which the brushes sigh and the bass hums contentedly, until Johnsen takes another fervent, moving solo. On Vespestad implies the barest outline of a rhythm - like seeing a silhouette in a half light - while piano and bass fill in exquisite details.
The accumulative effect could be described as aural love-making, and, indeed, Gustavsen has referred to "the eroticism of improvisation" and the "subtle funkiness" of his music. This is bad. Who needs critics when artists can sum up their own music so aptly? I'll just add that it is unreservedly recommended as one of the key releases of the year.

John Shand
Sydney Morning Herald

Also thanking John Shand for his essay, let me point it out the following...

Someone who wasn't named above is the noblest of noble, Bill Evans' trio with Motian and LaFaro, the highest peak in this unforgiving, superb, yet humble, unassuming art: jazz trio.

The disk on ECM is this good, pals... give it a try.

Blues and beyond... an ever changing 12-bars affaire...

Blues is an ever changing beast... a snake in always new skin...

I'm always surprised when, after loving listenings to Son House, Robert Johnson, Missisipi John Hurt, Skip James and Muddy Waters, I discover - by chance, while driving, coming from the radio - the likes of Chris Thomas King!

The disk I'm showing is a true gem!

Reminds me the experiments of Robert Johnson's hinted, in-acid blues experiments and electronic filtrations by Leila Adu/Mike Cooper/Fabrizio Spera - Truth in the abstract blues - on Rai Trade label...


Blues is - indeed - more than music... it's a living juice.

Todd Cambio's "Fraulini Guitars"... a well kept secret in acoustic guitars making

Todd Cambio, a great luthier and a true gentleman (of Italian heritage), is the maker of these beauties... his Leadbelly's Stella 12 strings guitar is in the noblest of traditions, using late Jon Lundberg's old tonewoods stock and hand machining everything, down to the weird, beautiful metal tailpiece.

A masterpiece!

Fraulini Guitars

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

'64 Guild F-212 twelve strings acoustic guitar restoration: Maestro Roberto Lanaro almost completed the job...

Maestro Roberto Lanaro - a friend and my trusty luthier for ALL my instruments since early '80s - received few months ago a restoration job request from yours truly.

I bought by chance a nice, yet quite battered, '64 Guild F-212 12 strings acoustic... I bought it because I loved its scuffed, humble work-horse appearance.

The previous owner(s) were not too tender with "her"... they hardly picked the top spruce down to bare wood near pickguard, there was a little damage to spruce top and a true "genius" installed a set of black Mini-Grover's tuning machines, usually used in electric guitars (see pixes...).

Something more? ... yes, of course... the headstock was (badly) re-routed to instal the above ugly Grover's, and the headstock back mahoganny was cracked.

... but, hey, it costed to me peanuts, so well worth some lovingly executed overhaul and restoration, at last.

First stroke was finding (at Hans Moust, the Guild's guru from The Netherlands) a N.O.S./N.I.B. Grover's V-312C Sta-Tite tuning machines from the sixties; then, after obtaining a "Go!" from luthier extraordinaire Frank Ford about the way to restore the poor headstock with "Guild" logo, ruined by the awful black Grover's installation - i.e. he hinted to go for an ebony headstok faceplate without loosing time with cheap "wannabe/original" black plastic like it was originally fitted... exactly what Roberto hinted.

Appreciating the wisdom of both Maestro Ford and Lanaro... I was in business!

My luthier ordered two german made solid ebony headstock plates (one as a spare...) with old-style "Guild" angled logo, with no "Chesterfield" as it was on original and on my '65 Guild F-312 Adirondack/Brazilian Rosewood 12-strings.

The german made parts were a long wait, but worth it... in the meantime, Roberto completed the other restorations, including the filling in mahoganny of old headstock "wrong" tuning machines holes, ready for the correct Grover Sta-Tite's routing and installing ...

An ugly duckling returned at its shiny rank and beauty, after 45 or so years of hard work on the roads, an overseas air-flight and some bad-tasting abuses.

Will receive it back from luthier workshop in next hours... can't resist in publishing some pictures of the new ebony layered headstock (and an ugly, nasty pix of how it looked before...).

A labour of love.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Ear - Music as an Heartbeat

Music is, in my humble opinion, among the very few "natural facts" - i.e. the purest of pure aspects of creation - like tides, a sunset, the heartbeat, the chemical of Love, my dog eyes...

When the above need a guessing, anything more than awe and bliss, there is something deeply "wrong".

A thunder is perceived by ears and body... music, the very same...

The pleasure in listening should be so direct to be mind-boggling, violent, animal.

Like we don't bother, almost do not care, about our heart and heartbeat - which goes and goes and goes - we should not "think" about the Music we're listening to.

Zen-like: Music is Music... misteriously self-standing and existing: like touching a butterfly wings... vivisecting it, deteriorates it.

It is...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Ear - Illusory continuity of Tones

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An ascending tone is interrupted by a noise burst, but is perceptually continuous.

The illusory continuity of tones is the auditory illusion caused when a tone is interrupted for a short time (approximately 50ms or less), during which a narrow band of noise is played. Whether the tone is of constant, rising or decreasing pitch, the ear perceives the tone as continuous if the 50ms (or less) discontinuity is masked by noise. Because the human ear is very sensitive to sudden changes, however, it is necessary for the success of the illusion that the amplitude of the tone in the region of the discontinuity not decrease or increase too abruptly.

Most probably, this happens because of the way that the human ear adapted to filter out the background noise from signals (visual, acoustic, tactile,...) in order to show one signal disturbed by noise as one event, not several. A longer change in the signal could mean a different event.


The above is possibly one of the (several) reasons also a medium trained ear recognize as "true" an instrument and as a "copy" its recording, but - someway/anyway - prefere to self-convince itself and brain to, simply, "enjoy" without over-empathisizing any embarassing comparisons...

The uninterrupted, new-born, let's call it: "primitive", music naturally flowing from any instrument has none of the delays and assorted "lacking of involvement" so often experienced during sound reproduction at home.

Maybe it's the "unfiltered", uncorrupted quality and nature of "primitive" musical sound which is so much less tiring for the ear and brain...

And the listener understand it, and naturally grateful, enjoy...

The Ear - Aural illusions: Shepard's Tone

Shepard tone
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Shepard tone, named after Roger Shepard, is a sound consisting of a superposition of sine waves separated by octaves. When played with the base pitch of the tone moving upwards or downwards, it is referred to as the Shepard scale. This creates the auditory illusion of a tone that continually ascends or descends in pitch, yet which ultimately seems to get no higher or lower.[1]
* 1 Construction of a Shepard scale
* 2 Shepard scales in music
* 3 References
* 4 External links

The acoustical illusion can be constructed by creating a series of overlapping ascending or descending scales. Similar to the Penrose stairs optical illusion (as in M. C. Escher's lithograph Ascending and Descending) or a barber's pole, the basic concept is shown in Figure 1.

Each square in the figure indicates a tone, any set of squares in vertical alignment together making one Shepard tone. The color of each square indicates the loudness of the note, with purple being the quietest and green the loudest. Overlapping notes that play at the same time are exactly one octave apart, and each scale fades in and fades out so that hearing the beginning or end of any given scale is impossible. As a conceptual example of an ascending Shepard scale, the first tone could be an almost inaudible C(4) (middle C) and a loud C(5) (an octave higher). The next would be a slightly louder C#(4) and a slightly quieter C#(5); the next would be a still louder D(4) and a still quieter D(5). The two frequencies would be equally loud at the middle of the octave (F#), and the eleventh tone would be a loud B(4) and an almost inaudible B(5) with the addition of an almost inaudible B(3). The twelfth tone would then be the same as the first, and the cycle could continue indefinitely. (In other words, each tone consists of ten sine waves with frequencies separated by octaves; the intensity of each is a gaussian function of its separation in semitones from a peak frequency, which in the above example would be B(4).)

The scale as described, with discrete steps between each tone, is known as the discrete Shepard scale. The illusion is more convincing if there is a short time between successive notes (staccato or marcato instead of legato or portamento). As a more concrete example, consider a brass trio consisting of a trumpet, a horn, and a tuba. They all start to play a repeating C scale (C–D–E–F–G–A–B–C) in their respective ranges, i.e. they all start playing Cs, but their notes are all in different octaves. When they reach the G of the scale, the trumpet drops down an octave, but the horn and tuba continue climbing. They're all still playing the same pitch class, but at different octaves. When they reach the B, the horn similarly drops down an octave, but the trumpet and tuba continue to climb, and when they get to what would be the second D of the scale, the tuba drops down to repeat the last seven notes of the scale. So no instrument ever exceeds an octave range, and essentially keeps playing the exact same seven notes over and over again. But because two of the instruments are always "covering" the one that drops down an octave, it seems that the scale never stops rising.

Jean-Claude Risset subsequently created a version of the scale where the steps between each tone are continuous, and it is appropriately called the continuous Risset scale or Shepard–Risset glissando. When done correctly, the tone appears to rise (or descend) continuously in pitch, yet return to its starting note. Risset has also created a similar effect with rhythm in which tempo seems to increase or decrease endlessly.[2]

Although it is difficult to recreate the illusion with acoustic institutes, James Tenney, who worked with Roger Shepard at Bell Labs in the early 1960s, has created a piece utilizing this effect, For Ann (rising). The piece, in which up to twelve closely but not quite consistently spaced computer-generated sine waves rise steadily from an A pitched below audibility to an A above, fading in, and back out, of audible volume, was then scored for twelve string players. The effect of the electronic work consists both of the Shepard scale, seamless endlessly (rising) glissandos, and of a shimmering caused by the highest perceivable frequency and the inability to focus on the multitude of rising tones. Tenney has also proposed that the piece be revised and realized so that all entrances are timed in such a way that the ratio between successive pitches is the golden ratio, which would make each lower first-order combination tone of each successive pair coincide with subsequently spaced, lower, tones.

An independently discovered version of the Shepard tone appears at the beginning and end of the 1976 album A Day At The Races by the band Queen. The piece consists of a number of electric-guitar parts following each other up a scale in harmony, with the notes at the top of the scale fading out as new ones fade in at the bottom. "Echoes", a 23-minute song by Pink Floyd, concludes with a rising Shepard tone. The Shepard tone is also featured in the fading piano outro to "A Last Straw", from Robert Wyatt's 1974 opus Rock Bottom.

In his book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas Hofstadter explains how Shepard Scales can be used on the Canon a 2, per tonos in Bach's Musical Offering (called the Endlessly Rising Canon by Hofstadter[3]) for making the modulation end in the same pitch instead of an octave higher[4].

Another independent discovery, in classical music, occurs in the Fantasy and Fugue in G minor for organ, BWV 542, by Bach. Following the first third movement of the Fantasy there is a descending pedal bass line under a chord sequence which traverses the circle of fifths. The gradual addition of stops up to full organ sound creates something akin to a barber-pole pattern with an illusion of ever-deeper descent, even though the bass line actually skips octaves.

Chopin's Etude no. 3, op. 10 contains Shepard tone-like sequences in the middle section.

An example in modern culture of the Shepard tone is in the video game Super Mario 64; the tone accompanies the never-ending staircase.[5] However, this may not be a true Shepard tone, as the tone only takes on three note values within an octave and the transition to the third is not always perceived as being in the same direction.

Antonio Carlos Jobim's Waters of March has descending orchestration that is intended to represent the continual flow of water to the ocean; the effect is very much like Shepard tones.

A Shepard–Risset glissando can be found at the end of the Muse song "Ruled by Secrecy."

Songwriter Stephin Merritt makes use of a Shepard scale in his composition "A Man of a Million Faces," written for NPR Music's Project Song.[6][7]

Techno producers Christian Smith and John Selway used an ascending Shepard tone in their hit 2008 track "Total Departure", released on Drumcode Records. [8]

It can be heard at the end of the guitar solo of the song Oowatanite by the Canadian rock band April Wine. And at the end of Beck's 2002 song Lonesome Tears.

In the song "No Quarter" by the band Led Zeppelin, the Shepard Tone makes a brief appearance after the guitar solo.

It can be heard in some scenes in the 2004 movie The Forgotten (2004 film).

The Shepard Tone has also been used in the summer blockbuster The Dark Knight to give the Bat-Pod its transmissionless sound[9].

In the song "Elevator" by Ihsahn , (2008) It appears as the intro.



Friday, November 20, 2009

One of most beautiful speakers I ever saw: Alexander Kniysev's masterpiece

This beauty, built by Alexander Kniysev from Moscow (Russia), deeply moved me and my aesthetic sense: visually a mix between a baffle, a grand-piano and a Leonardo da Vinci's drawing came true.

It's using a dual-concentric Alnico magnet speaker, with 96 db/W sensitivity.


Thanks to Roman Bessnow for showing it in his always informative forum.

Anagrams and resolution, transparency, definition, clarity...

... about the Real Thing: I found the Wikipedia suggestion about "resolution", music-wise to be quite inspiring - i.e. - Musical resolution

Sentences like this: "A dissonance has its resolution when it moves to a consonance. When a resolution is delayed or is accomplished in surprising ways--when the composer play with our sense of expectation--a feeling of drama or suspense is created." or "... lacks a tonal center to which to resolve. The concept of "resolution", and the degree to which resolution is "expected", is contextual as to culture and historical period."

Audio-wise, the above seems to hint about the enhanced level of attention through the sense of surprise after timing/chordal/melodic changes in music.

To a broader extent Low Frequencies, Medium Frequencies or High Frequencies better resolution - not exageration, boosting, tilting up or the like - or transparency augment the sense of understanding, of proximity to the music and its meaning.

Interesting would be better defining and speculating around the (audio-wise) concepts of "transparency", "definition" "clarity" and "resolution"... all from a sane, contructive point-of-view, leave alone the hated industry hypes.

Being "resolution" a multi-faceted, multi-meaning term, I found this sort-of "dark side of resolution" intriguing and worth reporting, like - as whole life seems VERY, almost painfully, utterly mysterious - as it is all based on abstractions, subtleties, conventions, meanings and habits... when this consciousness happens, it's like something changes and also the humblest word - as the basic brick which builds, supports our lives - need a careful explanation and has its weight in everyday life.

Also: a tuning fork, the basic, humble tool which makes a full orchestra to play "in tune" is - as applied math and acoustic, a sort-of interpretation of Nature and its Laws - giving 440 cycles (hertz) flat to the trained musician ear, who filters the pure tone as "the officially accepted" tuning pitch, by convention... Well tempered klavier

The diapason (tuning fork) is not something abstract, but a vibrating steel bent bar, producing an A = a note... such a note - now, by convention, at 440 hz, centuries ago (yet still used in ancient music praxis) was at 415, 417, 430 or even 447 hz, tomorrow... who know?

Translated from "Wikipedia": "In '500 and '600 in Rome, church organs were giving LA (A) pitch to choir - i.e. the fourth octave note (A4). Every church had his "main tone", which was between 390 and 400 hz.

In 1859 the tuning pitch for symphonic orchestra pitch was at 448,8 hz. In that same year, in Paris, a panel of notable musicians (Berlioz, Rossini ecc.) stated - with an imperial paper - the "diapason" for all French territory as 435 Hz.

Later, back in 1880, the mathematic and musicologist Alexander Ellis searched and published the pitch frequencies used in several european cities, quoting year and frequency of A, as follows:

Berlino (concerti) 1721 421,9
Berlino (concerti) 1859 451,8
Bologna (concerti) 1869 443,1
Bruxelles (teatro lirico) 1859 442,5
Firenze (opera) 1845 444,9
Liegi (concerti) 1859 448
Londra (opera) 1857 456,1
Londra (opera) 1880 435,4
Londra (concerti) 1826 423,3
Londra (concerti) 1877 455,1
Madrid (opera) 1858 444,5
Milano (Teatro alla Scala) 1857 451,7
Milano 1849 446,6
Napoli (Teatro San Carlo) 1857 444,9
Vienna (opera) 1823 433,9
Vienna (opera) 1862 466

In 1885 in Wien it was discussed the possibility to imitate Paris' hint to adopt a european pitch note and frequency... such a decision was reached about one century after, standardizing the A = 440 hz on June 30th, 1971.

In Italy such an official statement was (untimely) dating May 3rd 1989:

"Normalizzazione dell'intonazione di base degli strumenti musicali", che all'art. 1 recita: "Il suono di riferimento per l'intonazione di base degli strumenti musicali è la nota la3, la cui altezza deve corrispondere alla frequenza di 440 hertz (hz), misurata alla temperatura ambiente di 20 gradi centigradi".
(Translation - The tuning reference tone for musical instruments is A3, whose pitch must correspond to the frequency of 440 hz, as measured at 20 degrees Celsius temperature).

Standardization and conventions really build (or dismantle) the world how we know it...

BTW... did you notice that "tone" has - by chance - one of its anagrams as "note"?

Thursday, November 19, 2009


It happens I'm a fond Gamelan music scholar (trying to play it on properly tuned acoustic guitar and Echoplex - i.e. my "Loops in Faboola" project...) - with both sampled and real tablas, dumbek and mrdigham percussions - since early '00s!) and hard-core lover since my month-long stay in Ubud, Bali some years ago, still much lovingly remembered...

After that stay, I re-listened several times to McPhee's "Tabuh-Tabuhan" and Lou Harrison's works with a brand-new ear...

Of great support on the matter has been - in the years - a book: "Balinese Music" by Michael Tenzer - Periplus Editions Inc. - Berkeley 1991 - ISBN 0-945971-30-3.

The Gamelan-related bibliography and discography section are well worth the search and purchase of the above mentioned book.

Must be said that this very music fully blossoms at its best during Balinese traditional funerals... still cherishing the remembrance with shivers of a ceremony on a beach, with a huge fire, percussions and olfattive hintings... a blend impossible to forget, indeed.

Florian Fricke and Popol Vuh

An interview to Florian Fricke.

As the year 2001 came to a close Florian Fricke passed away. Thanks to Gerhard Augustin in Germany, Florian's good friend and mine, I was one of the first in the USA to hear Popol Vuh's music way back in 1970 when he sent me a copy of AFFENSTÜNDE. There's a story I like to tell about Popol Vuh from the days of Eurock's initial incarnation as a FM radio program in Central California.

In late 1972 I aired a long 1 hour set of Popol Vuh music that featured one side each of AFFENSTÜNDE, IN DEN GÄRTEN PHAROAS, ending with HOSIANNA MANTRA. Near the conclusion there came a phone call from a woman who wanted to pass along a heartfelt thanks to the station for playing that music. She said her young daughter was teething and had been fussing all day, unable to nap, and in general miserable. As the show progressed and HOSIANNA MANTRA came on she said the baby calmed and drifted off by shows end. She was eternally grateful and asked that we please play it again in future.

That story illustrates the true power of great music, and Florian's magical musical talent in particular. When I passed along the news of his death, I got many people telling me of the special place some of his particular albums had played in their lives as well. They all had once again dug them out and were engaging in their own little personal memorials to the beauty and joy his music had brought them.

This Interview done by Gerhard is incredibly rare. I had tried a couple times myself to arrange something, but have never seen any interviews with Florian. In fact, at times Popol Vuh was referred to as a "phantom band out of Munich" by people in the music business in Germany for Florian was a very private person. Therefore I consider it a wonderful gift to present here the first known English interview with him. Read it, listen to your favorite album of his, and remember him fondly.

All these many years later I wouldn't think that long ago woman in California knows about his passing. But I and many others will continue to play his music , remembering him through his works until the end of our days.

His music will continue to eternally be an invocation of the Spirit of Peace for all who listen...

Archie Patterson

GA: You have done a lot of music for the films of Werner Herzog; do you know him personally very well?

FF: Yes, I am a good friend with Werner Herzog for many, many years. We don't see each other too often anymore because he is very busy with his films and I am very busy with my music. And that is the reason why we see each other, or meet each other, only for our mutual work. There are some things that I do admire about Werner Herzog. The thing I admire most is his consequence in following through the things that he is planning to do, and he is actually doing them. Werner Herzog is one of my few friends that are very famous and have, regardless of their fame, not changed at all. Their personality has remained stable and he is in no way different from the way I knew him 25 years ago. He still drinks his beer from the bottle.

GA: By reading the old Mayan book "Popol Vuh" you must have gotten the idea of the band's name. What kind of inspiration, what kind of feelings did you have when you were reading the book?

FF: When I read the book for the first time, I got ideas all of a sudden by which I was able to define other old books. I found a key in the book of "Popol Vuh." I was able to understand the way people in the very early days described the creation of Earth. And the way of human evolution. I was touched like by a thunderstorm. In those days, in the late '60s, when musical groups were looking for names, they were usually looking for a name that was expressing their music within the name. Otherwise it doesn't have any particular meaning.

GA: But also, do you think that your feeling, or the inspiration that you got from the book "Popol Vuh" was also based on the counterculture movement on the '60s?

FF: In a certain way, yes. In those days the society was not only a political society, in Europe we had the '68 revolution which started in Paris, but also was part of the German change in culture and society, and music was a great part in this change. But there was also a spiritual revolution. We have discovered the Eastern part of this globe, of this world, over and over again. The culture of the old Maya, of the book "Popol Vuh," was one way for us to find ourselves, re-define our ideas in early days. So we were actually looking for these kinds of inspirations, where we could refer to holy books, whether it was The Bible or the "Popol Vuh" (the book of the Maya culture), or the Bhagavad-Gita, like this. Different sources of information were coming to us.

GA: Now, tell us about your gigantic Moog Synthesizer III, the system of the late ‘60s, which was only used by very few musicians. What sort of ideas did you try to express with the electronics of the Moog synthesizer?

FF: It was a great fascination to encounter sounds that were until those days not heard before from the outside. It was the possibility to express sounds that a composer was hearing from within himself, which in many cases are different from what a normal instrument could express. Therefore, this was a fantastic way into my inside consciousness, to express what I was hearing within myself.

GA: Why did you stop playing the synthesizer in '72?

FF: I always had this great desire to find an instrument that could express a human voice, of vocals or the singing of a girl for instance, by electronic means. When you listen to IN DEN GÄRTEN PHAROAS on the A-side you will find this voice. And all of a sudden this voice that I felt was in myself, really came into my life when Djong Yun appeared. I wanted to do something really new, in those days, and the synthesizer was part of what I wanted to do. You should know that over the last 25 years I have always tried to create new music and new styles of music. I think otherwise it would be too boring.

GA: Did the title AFFENSTÜNDE have a double meaning for you? Like a first step for the band's genesis of the book "Popol Vuh"?

FF: Yes, it had a double meaning. Each title has to be open for associations. That is a creative offer. What I, myself, really understand from AFFENSTÜNDE, is that it is the moment when the human being becomes a human being, where man becomes man. When a human being becomes a human being and is no longer an ape any longer. So that is my double meaning for AFFENSTÜNDE, that is the moment where the human being of a monkey turns into the human being of a human kind.

GA: I have thought that AFFENSTÜNDE could have been a kind of 'trip-music' for you, and you were inspired by your own drug experience. Is this right, or how do you feel about that?

FF: We were all, in one way or another, involved in some sort of excitement, which you may call drugs, whether it was taking LSD, or smoking hashish, grass or marijuana - minor experiences. But you know that the way electronic instruments could be used in those days offered such fantastic opportunities to express oneself. There's no doubt about it that my music has delighted a lot of people who were into drugs or smoking or taking trips or whatever, that was part of our musical culture in those days. And my music was especially geared towards this clientele. I did not make music for classical music lovers, but for people that were into contemporary, new music. But I did not make the music because of that.

GA: There are two songs in IN DEN GÄRTEN PHAROAS. Please tell me what idea did you have before making these tunes, and were these tunes improvised in the studio?

FF: One is a song that was recorded live in a church, "Vuh." And the A-side, "In Den Gärten Pharaos," Frank Fiedler and I, who had already worked on the AFFENSTÜNDE album, created this song actually in our home studio and later went into another studio to do the mastering for it. The last part of the song was recorded in the studio actually, like most of our music has been recorded in studios, this was the Fender piano in the end.

GA: It is said that HOSIANNA MANTRA is a musical Mass.

FF: Yes, in a way it was a Mass, a church Mass. But not for church! A conscious reflection upon religious origin is included in this music, but not in particular to any religious groups.

GA: In HOSIANNA MANTRA there are some new personnel, such as Conny Veit and Djong Yun. How did you meet them, and how did you come to play with them? Let's first talk about Conny Veit. How did you meet him?

FF: Actually, most of the musicians have always sort of found their way to me to play with me. I met Conny Veit at United Artists, my record label at the time, in the office of somebody I knew there (actually GA himself).

GA: But this is how Conny started playing with you, he came to your house and you guys just sat down and played?

FF: Yes, and he has did this every day. And that is how we actually prepared for almost half a year to records the album HOSIANNA MANTRA.

GA: And then Djong Yun, how did she come into the picture?

FF: Djong Yun came to Munich; she is the daughter of a famous composer. She got the melodies, she was listening to what we were playing and she heard the melodies and started singing with us. Yeah, we called it rehearsal! [laughs]

GA: Did you, Conny Veit and Djong Yun ever perform as a band, publicly?

FF: Yes we did, actually, in Lieberkosen and Munich.

GA: Tell us, what was the theme and how did you get the ideas of recording HOSIANNA MANTRA? And then can you tell us something about the artwork?

FF: In creativity there are not always reasons. Some of the things are just flying straight through the window. But at that time I was especially interesting in using first the words, and then making music to the words, in other words there were existing lyrics that I wanted to add music to. I wanted to convey the depth of meaning contained in a word, and then transform this into musical sounds, a from of musical expression. That is one way of composing music for me. I don't always do it, but on and off I keep having an interest in composing in such way.

GA: The name HOSIANNA MANTRA, where does it come from?

FF: HOSIANNA MANTRA is actually a combination of two different cultures, two different languages, two different lives. It has a dual meaning, "Hosianna" which is a religious Christian word, and "Mantra" from the Indian religion of Hinduism. Behind all of that I was convinced that basically all religions are the same. You always find it in your own heart. And the music of HOSIANNA MANTRA is really touching your heart. It is made to touch your heart. That is why you can call it a Mass. A Mass for your own heart.

GA: Can you remember any episodes in making the album HOSIANNA MANTRA?

FF: I do remember when you ask me about episodes. One of the episodes was that Djong Yun was combing her hair more than she was taking time to rehearse our music. It was much more important to her personally to be pretty and beautiful for all of us. To look the way she felt comfortable in order to sing comfortably. We had absolutely nothing against that because she had very beautiful hair. Her hair is as beautiful as her voice. She was really a very nice, comfortable part of the group. Her behavior and everything was very soothing. But in general this production was no different from all the other productions. We’d go prepared into the studio having a certain amount of ideas and music available, and then improvise in addition to what we had already constructed. I've always looked for the fact that whenever we make music, or we were producing music, that whoever is part of the group playing, is responsible for their own playing within that formation. Groupies were not allowed. [laughs]

GA: How did you really get to meet Djong Yun, the very first time? Have you heard about her from other friends?

FF: In those days I was living in Munich in Halachein. Musicians from other towns and cities that came to town came to Munich, by recommendation or desire or whatever, came by my house, and we were just jamming. One day Djong Yun came there. I was playing with Andy Fix, the guitar player, and he was talking about this incredible girl from Berlin, this singer from Berlin, and he said that I had to meet he. That she was fantastic. I was working with Esther Ofarim in those days, but it didn't work out because she refused to sing Christian lyrics, being Jewish I guess, so she didn't want to interpret this kind of song. Which I did understand. In those days there was not this competitive feeling among musicians, and the contacts were loose and open. People were just visiting each other for the sake of music, and not to discuss their recording contracts. In a certain way we were all hippies in those days.

GA: I feel that this album HOSIANNA MANTRA is one of the greatest albums that German rock has produced in the '70s. What, in your opinion, does this album mean to you, and what position does this album take in the career of Popol Vuh for you?

FF: When HOSIANNA MANTRA was released we had a great feedback from the press and the public. There were these voices that said HOSIANNA MANTRA was certainly the most beautiful record that had been made until that day. Personally, I still consider this music as incredibly beautiful. But very rarely do I listen to music that I have made in the past. I'm always living with the music that I'm now realizing, or producing, or making, whatever. So I don't really dwell in the past, and I don't think too much of the past, I think more about tomorrow, the future, and what's happening right now.

GA: Why did Djong Yun not join SELIGPREISUNG?

FF: She was in America, and only returned for the record following SELIGPREISUNG, EINSJAEGER & SIEBENJAEGER. So actually it was because she was in America in the days when we made SELIGPREISUNG. I do regret that today, because I think I haven't really done a good service with my own voice to my record. So it would have been nice if Djong Yun had been there.

GA: Can you tell us the concept, or the theme, the basic ideas of the albums EINSJAEGER & SIEBENJAEGER, DAS HOHELIED SALOMOS and LETZTE TAGE, LETZTE NACHT?

FF: EINSJAEGER & SIEBENJAEGER is finishing, or closing of the cycle. DAS HOHELIED SALOMOS is the beginning of a new cycle. In addition to the guitar player Conny Veit, I invited Danny Fichelscher, the drummer and guitar player with Amon Düül, to play with me. And that was the beginning of an extremely fruitful collaboration. We have practically made music since then without interruption, we have been playing together since then. For example, the A-side of EINSJAEGER & SIEBENJAEGER was really played and recorded in the first try, in one piece in the studio, and that was it. We didn't change anything at all. Actually I was giving in so much on this album to the style of Danny Fichelscher, the music of Danny Fichelscher, that we have sort of stuck to this formula for the following seven years.

GA: I have a feeling that EINSJAEGER & SIEBENJAEGER and DAS HOHELIED SALOMOS were recorded in the same studio, and at the same time.

FF: No, they were not recorded at the same time. Quite to the contrary. I think we made DAS HOHELIED SALOMOS one year later, after EINSJAEGER & SIEBENJAEGER. In between there were studio dates and recording dates and tours. There were a lot of things happening. So it was not really at the same time.

GA: You often change a melody that you used before, and you use it again in a different tune. But the melodies in EINSJAEGER… seem to appear for the very first time there.

FF: This is what you could say about Mozart as well, because this is the individual style of an artist, that you identify the artist with a certain melody, sound, feeling or whatever it is. You are right insofar as that we have been using these melodies as sort of a trademark in the different works that we created. And we have been playing this in various ways, different ways. And sometimes we even like these new, different versions. Compared to the other albums, SELIGPREISUNG and HOSIANNA MANTRA, we felt that this music, with Danny and Djong in EINSJAEGER… was a more contemporary, modern sound and music. But whatever we were doing in those days was really hermeneutic music. It's one way of jubilation; it's our expression of jubilation.

GA: Please tell us, is DAS HOHELIED SALOMOS your homage to the Old Testament, or is it dedicated to Djong Yun?

FF: DAS HOHELIED SALOMOS was taken from the Bible, yes. It's a mystic love song. The whole album was dedicated to love, that's all.

GA: Around the period of IN DEN GÄRTEN PHAROAS, did you write the type of tune of AGUIRRE, and the album, why was it released in 1976, but the film was made in 1972?

FF: Don't ask me about those confusing facts about my musical record career. I'm not a part of that. The music industry has created these unfortunate circumstances. And if I would start talking about this in detail, I would have to mention names and persons and people, so I'm trying to avoid that. Insofar that some of these are not even living in our country anymore.

GA: Tell me something; are you actually playing on the album YOGA?

FF: This is part of the same chapter. YOGA is an unauthorized release. Some Indian musicians visited me in my studio, and somebody else took the tapes and sold them under the name of Popol Vuh, but it had nothing to do with Popol Vuh, really. I'm playing harmonium, and organ. I think it was released in Italy.

GA: I saw the film "Herz aus Glas" (“Coeur de Verre”) and I found that not very much of your music was used. In the album with the same name of the film, COEUR DE VERRE, is Popol Vuh's original album to be the soundtrack for the movie?

FF: It was different. Sometimes they're produced for Werner Herzog's work. Sometimes he came to my house and he asked please open your box, where I have my tapes from my productions. When we are listening to music, sometimes he lifts his finger and says this part of your music would be great music for a film. Sometimes we have done in a very short day and night, time in studio at the end of production from his movies, chosen the music like this. The special music for COEUR DE VERRE ("Herz aus Glas") is Popol Vuh, but sometimes he needs music from Richard Wagner. But Richard Wagner never made film music for Werner Herzog.

GA: Now we come to a question about the French Egg release of NOSFERATU. This is a compilation of already-released materials, and unreleased old materials, with new songs. Did you choose the tracks?

FF: It actually was Part Two of the original soundtrack. The actual film music, the way it was composed for this movie, is on the record BRUDER DES SCHATTENS, SOHNE DES LICHTS. And when Werner was already almost finished with his film, he came to me and asked, “Florian, do you have music to be afraid by?” And I thought no, no, no, no. But I remembered some electronic pieces in my big, big, big, box of old material from the early years, and in this box I found 'angst music.' And so we made a second record, besides BRUDER DES SCHATTENS… we made 'music to be afraid by,' NOSFERATU, part two, released by a French company.

GA: Would you please tell us something about Maya Rose and Guido Hieronymus, who have played on recent Popol Vuh albums? What kind of background do they have, and what were they doing before they joined Popol Vuh? First Maya Rose, the singer.

FF: Maya lived in Yucatan in Mexico, and at different occasions she sent me some tapes where she was singing freely. I had listened to them and I had put it to the side, because in those days I was working with Renate, the Amon Düül singer, on the record FOR YOU AND ME. After many years I listened to these recordings again and I found the voice for an idea that I was working on which became the album CITY RAGA. To be precise, my son Johannes, he actually gave me this tip to do this kind of record. He said that this voice would please everybody.

GA: So this is how you met Maya, on tape. Did you ever see her personally?

FF: Yes, many years before in Köln. She was a member of the Breathing Therapy Society group, but moved to Yucatan and stayed in touch with me by sending these strange, wonderful cassettes, with her voice on there. When my son was hearing this voice he felt that it was really special.

GA: Guido Hieronymus, who has played on all the recent Popol Vuh Albums, what kind of background does he have?

FF: Guido is a bit younger than Frank and I are. He has studied music at the Conservatory in Munich. He is producing and playing with many different musicians in Munich, in the music scene. And when we started to work together, it was not clear from the beginning that Guido would eventually become a member of Popol Vuh. But by working with him over the last couple of years we have come to a point that Guido is very important to Popol Vuh. We are friends, we have a great understanding.

GA: Your work on CITY RAGA seems to be very different from your previous works. Do you feel that this is a drastic change, or a natural extension from your previous work?

FF: I have answered this question before; I always find new styles, different forms of playing, that I'm incorporating into the music of Popol Vuh. The essence of my music remains the same. The forms are changing, but the essence remains the same.

GA: Thank you very much for your interview.

FF: I want to tell you one more thing about what I feel to be the essence of my music. Popol Vuh is a Mass for the heart. It is Music for Love. Das ist alles (that is all)...

[Interview conducted by Gerhard Augustin FEB 1996]

[Photo © the Fricke Family]

R.I.P. Florian Fricke - Feb. 23rd 1944 - Dec. 29th 2001.

My deepest, sincere thanks to Archie Patterson and Gerhard Augustin, in the name and for the sake of Universal Peace and Love in Music.