Monday, October 15, 2007

Collage for Girl With Clouds

collage for girl with clouds
volume 3 number 8

according to Random House's Word Menu
musique concrete is defined as a recorded montage
of electronically manipulated and transformed natural sounds
presented as a composition.

there was one giant leap for radiokind in the mid-sixties,
the briefest of moments when it was acceptable to add
bits of musique concrete into your pop songs
and still have them played on the airwaves.
most notably it was the beatles of course,
(who at that time could do no wrong)
who were able to sneak in conversation, laughter,
backward sounds, radio noise, and other
musical non sequitur into the pop vernacular
and still be appreciated by housewives everywhere.

musique concrete
was born in the 1940's by a small group
of mostly french avante garde composers headed by Pierre Schaeffer.
it was never "popular" but did manage to create outrage.

one night spent at the zappa abode,
frank had put on a record from Edgar Varese,
(I think it was poeme electronique)
one of frank's favorite pieces of musique concrete.
he wanted to introduce me to music
which he found inspiring.
as with most of this type music the sounds seemed random;
electronic and organic.
frank had two large dogs who were barking outside.
I said, "the dogs fit right in, frank."
frank said, "you're beautiful, adrian."

I have always had a soft spot for musique concrete works
and began including them in my solo records from the very start
with a track called hot sun on lone rhino.
others include (my favorite) cruelty to animals from mr. music head
things you hit with a stick, nude wrestling with a christmas tree
and the return of the chicken from belewprints,
from side one,
and the red bull rides a boomerang
across the blue constellation
from side three.

for the bears song girl with clouds from rise and shine
I wanted to enhance the lyrical imagery of a daydreamer,
someone who always seemed distracted,
always had their head in the clouds.
the poster child for ADD.
voila! time for musique concrete.

"found sounds" and bits of tapes randomly spliced together
are quintessential ingredients for such a piece,
and when blended into the background of an otherwise "pop" song
it can create a sense of distraction.

so I put together this little collage from things
we had at hand in the studio control room:
some backwards snippets of various bears songs,
a drunk hillbilly comedian, Japanese folk music,
a percussion ensemble in concert, and my favorite,
a somber explanation of an SSL console meant for
recording engineers trying to figure out such things.

then we mixed this track into the background of
girl with clouds.
the collage was never meant to be heard on its own
but I think it has an interesting moment or two
so I'm including it here.

engineer: rich denhart
assistant: dan harjung

recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis.

on November 28, 1987
length: 2:58


  1. Viola!

  2. dnalevelc:
    my french is, how you say...sock.

  3. Adrian,
    Sorry, I couldn't resist! I keep that image on my server for just such occasions.

  4. Some people claim that this period in The Beatles exploration of studio gimmickry was the end of rock 'n roll in it's purist form, technically, I suppose that's true but, what a wonderful world of possiblities it opened up. Musique concrete has always been an adornment to a musical piece to me rather then a distraction, it makes me listen more intently and sometimes try to decoded the backwards bits. I look forward to hearing to this as a stand alone piece.


  5. Love Love Love the Beatles! and musique concrete! Have you and Martha seen the Cirque show LOVE? It's pretty incredible.

  6. Hi Adrian!

    You correctly quoted the definition of musique-concrete --

    but then you mistakenly identify Varese's IONIZATION as being "MC" -- it is NOT -- it is scored for all real instruments and there is no electronic manipulation of any kind in that particular composition.

    I love that you're delving into such good CRUD these days!!

    Lew Saul

  7. my mistake. I wasn't sure if it was "Ionization" or "Poeme Electronique"
    and didn't have time to research it. it was after all a long time ago (1977).
    thanks for your clarification.

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