Bach + Byrnes: Transcript Excerpt 1

Bach: We can pretty much do whatever we want, and make it whatever we want. I think it’s an opportunity to, first of all, have fun with it. And just see if there are kinds of structures, or motives, or themes that would be interesting to inform the session. It doesn’t have to be a score, although it could be a score, or it could be just a set of ideas and materials that we contemplate, meditate on, and then sit down and make sounds in that spirit.

Byrnes: Right.

Bach: One of my ideas, for part of the jam, is that I would perform as if I was doing Foley for accompaniment to a silent film. So I would be watching a film and I would have an array of objects and [manipulates silverware and dishes].

Byrnes: Depending on what was on screen.

Bach: Yes, and it wouldn’t necessarily be a faithful depiction, so if there was something that I… whatever I picked up…

Byrnes: Obviously there would be a musical element to it.

Bach: Right, and you would watch me and improvise to what I was doing, and you may or may not have access to the film. And then the film gets removed, leaving the trace of our sounds to stand on their own.

Byrnes: I like that idea.

Bach: I thought it was a nice way… I mean, I was thinking what do I play? Do I do laptop, field recordings? Guitar feedback? I have to be careful because I’ll be collaborating with a lot of people and…

Byrnes: You need to parse it out.

Bach: I have a limited bag of tricks, you know? I’m self-taught, and I work with a lot of different types of sounds, but I can’t improvise with someone based on “hey let’s stay in E minor and then progress to…” But I think I have a good sense of flow and…

Byrnes: Right, and that’s all that’s important really.

Bach: So I want to look at each collaboration and see what I can bring, where can we meet and have some kind of commonality, where I’m respectful of what you do as a musician because you have a craft, and you practice and it’s something you take very seriously, and I don’t want to come in and say “Well I can do that.” It’s free music, but “free” is qualified because there’s still a discipline and craft involved.

Byrnes: Yeah, but I don’t think you necessarily need to look at that. You don’t need to address it, as you.  Because whatever I do is going to be based on my experiences anyway, in terms of playing, so whatever you do… I think you’re over-qualifying its importance. So I think you should do whatever you think is appropriate.

Bach: Right, okay.

Byrnes: There are skills that are developed, but they could be anything, from technical proficiency on an instrument, to having a good sense of pace, a pulse…

Bach: A sensitivity to what’s going on and a mindfulness of the soundscape as a whole.

Byrnes: Right. Particularly with percussion it can be fairly obvious when there is… it’s such a physical instrument that, when things are executed, you can tell the level of intensity the musician has, in terms of affection for their instrument. And that’s part of the problem with it, too, is that in order to do some things you need to have a technical ability to do them but it almost defeats the purpose of doing them.

Bach: So, to attain that sort of inner freedom and ability to just respond and to act, the training can get in the way?

Byrnes: Yeah.

Bach: Because you think that you needed to hit this note or this series of hits in this pattern or otherwise it’s going to sound off?

Byrnes: No, I mean, if you look at a lot of improvisers, everyone has a thing. Or a group of things. So, a lot of times what you’ll get, especially with drummers, is a stock response. X drummer plays something, plays X, and then filters that through his brain and then plays Y, because that’s usually what he or she does.

Bach: So, it’s shorthand?

Byrnes: Yeah, I mean it can be. If you listen to enough of that stuff you can almost formulate the response.

Bach: Right.

Byrnes: And that’s what I’m trying to get away from.

Bach: To the best of your ability.

Byrnes: Yeah.

Bach: You as a person and where you are in your life as a musician.

Byrnes: Because my whole thing is density. For me, I want to be doing something at all times. And I don’t know where that came from, to be honest, because sometimes it’s not right. But, I want layers of things.

Bach: Interesting. Okay.

Byrnes: I think it comes from my admiration for electronic music or noise or things like that. Because that’s what that music is. It’s just like layers of stuff. And you can listen to one layer and then another layer. It’s like what you do when I listen to your stuff. So, density has always been my thing.

Bach: The mix.

Byrnes: Yeah, but like, thick. Even if it’s light, I want it to be thick.

Bach: But thick doesn’t necessarily equal loud.

Byrnes: No. I don’t think it ever means volume.

Bach: For you.

Byrnes: Yeah, for me.

Bach: I’m remembering during the times that we jammed, that you were always moving. It’s almost like you’re keeping up this contraption, and you’re the engineer, and you need to keep feeding coal to the engine to keep it running, and even if it’s not loud… it could be a small event, but it’s…

Byrnes: Yep. You’re probably the only person who’s ever… that’s totally my deal. And I have my natural pulse, like I’m a little edgy. Not upset, I’m just…

Bach: Yeah, to inhabit some sense of disruption, or departure from the expected pulse [mimics standard kick and snare pattern].

Byrnes: Right.

Bach: So you’re trying to embody the energy of stuff that isn’t organized. Not chaos, but…

Byrnes, Yeah, but I definitely have a pulse, too. It’s probably subconsciously based on some sort of time, I presume.

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