Wednesday 14th May 2014 saw me in Leeds. Kathryn had quite a severe cold from the wedding so I went on my lonesome to Leeds University for a recital of 1960’s Tape Music and a talk – what I didn’t know was that Trevor Wishart would be there and he would play a major part in the rest of the week.
I arrived in Leeds with enough time for a Nando’s – which soon proved to be a tactical error as I spent the night with an unquenchable thirst. Walking to the uni I was there in good time but managed to get completely lost in the campus. I eventually found the Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall (outside of the campus) having wasted 25 minutes walking from one end of the campus to the other with no avail – I can get lost in ASDA so there is no surprise there.
The admission was free (bonus) – the AV equipment was immense. There were 10 Genelac monitors with, what must have been, 12 – 14 inch cones. When the music started the clarity was amazing – a true testament to modern technology and something to save up for.
To start, I forget his name, a man gave a talk and set the scene for the night. I was a tad ambivalent about the talk. I figure it is why I gave up on poetry, intellectualising an emotion is not a good thing and I see music as sonic emotion. When writing poetry I had to filter my heart through my brain (didn’t like it) and the polite, well spoken man at the front of the hall was worrying me that I would intercept my flow from ear to heart and get brain involved. Was quite worried.
The on stepped Trevor Wishart. With the appearance of somebody that never quite made the transition from the late sixties, he had me captivated. His recollection of events from the 1960’s electronic scene were acute and relevant. He had us eating out of the palm of his hand. He followed up with a question and answer session – but I did not have the gaul to say anything as he was a mystery to me.
Then the music started – and, oh what music! Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire and the rest of the greats who made up the 1960’s tape music scene. I apologise, I could not afford a programme so the titles and names were a bit elusive.
My personal highlight was my first hearing of Trevor Wishart’s Machine. Mr Wishart collected his friends together in (I think) 1968 into a theatre and gave them all different scripts to read whilst seated as the audience. The topic was ‘machines’ and gathered from every branch of the tree of knowledge. Mr Wishart then walk around the seated friends as they read aloud with a tape recorder and microphone recording a sound-map – weeks must have been spent cutting and pasting these loops to form the final product – it was mind blowing.
A short interval and a few cigarettes later, we listened to an excerpt from Encounters In The Republic Of Heaven – from when Mr Wishart held a residency in Durham. Technologically a triumph – but something nagged me about it.
Well, I hear you ask, what did nag me about it? Well, technology has got to the point where the actual technology is equal to or surpasses the intellectual ideas of the individual. I got more from Machine than I did from Encounters. Just saying.