Today and tomorrow I am presenting two versions of a site-specific sound-based work in the lift at Matchmakers Wharf Studios for the Open Studios. Both works take the form of the same powered speaker on a stand placed within the lift playing an audio recording.
On Friday the work is 55.36(Take Five) and on Saturday 45.51(Take Five).
The audio for both days is derived from recordings of “Take Five” the jazz piece composed by Paul Desmond and performed by the Dave Brubeck Quartet for its 1959 album Time Out. The Friday night audio is derived from the single version released in 1961, which was 2:55 minutes in length. Saturday’s audio is derived from the 5:28 minute long album version. In both cases the audio has been subject to extreme time-stretching to extend it to the same duration as each days opening, two hours on Friday and five hours on Saturday. Whilst the pitch of the original instruments is maintained the process obviously has a profound effect on the character and form of the music.
When I started thinking about producing a work for the Open Studios I quickly decided on doing something that would exist outside of my personal studio space. I though about what spaces interested me – and I settled on the lift as an intriguing transitional space. I started considering the sonic experiences associated with that context and thought of “elevator music”. To quote Wikipedia “Elevator music (also known as Muzak, piped music, or lift music) refers to a type of popular music, usually instrumental, that is commonly played through speakers in elevators, shopping malls, grocery stores, department stores,…”.
A quick internet search for popular elevator music threw up the suggestion of Take Five. Now Elevator music is often associated with the genre “Smooth Jazz” and to suggest that Take Five belonged in that genre would undoubtedly be seen as an insult by aficionados. “Cool Jazz” is the generally accepted term for the style category it falls in to. However as the most successful jazz single of all time it became ubiquitous, and as such it became a popular choice for ‘piped’ (or elevator) music.
So I settled on Take Five to work with. It helped that I like the piece anyway and that five is the number of the floor my studio is on… It also fulfilled a couple of requirements I was particularly looking for. It is a live (analogue) studio recording of a performance and features acoustic instruments. In other words real people and ‘real’ instruments. This is then subjected to the kind of mathematically based (digital) processing only possible with modern computer technology to produce a sonic hybrid.