Even after 11 years, the Europeans haven’t managed to socialize me yet. My deepest ideas of happiness still revolve around living in a wooden house, deep in the forest, with six dogs, three wives and twelve loaded firearms.
Sveta Troitsa (or the Church of the Holy Trinity) was built in Bansko, Bulgaria, between 1810 and 1850. During this time, the Blagoevgrad Province remained under Turkish rule, and the founders of the church could only build it through a combination of diplomacy and heavy fees payed to the Turks. The four bells heard in these recordings were cast in 1855 by the Veleganovi brothers, who inscribed the name of the Turkish sultan on them so that they would not be thrown from the tower.
Reading through R. Murray Schafer’s The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977, Destiny Books) the other night, I came across his discussion of church bells. He describes the church bell as a signal delineating the boundaries of a human habitation, as well as bringing its occupants together:
The most salient sound in the Christian community is the church bell. In a very real sense it defines the community, for the parish is an acoustic space, circumscribed by the range of the church bell. The church bell is a centripetal sound; it attracts and unifies the community in a social sense…
These bells were recorded on the rainy morning of 27 December, 2009–a setting which somehow reminds me of Yasushi Utsunomia’s incredible recordings of the concerts he organized in the Koukiji temple in Japan during a damp summer afternoon (Kougezan Koukiji – The Live [11th] Final Hyakusenmansyuuraku, 2002 Horen Records). And true to Schafer’s words, these bells reside directly in the middle of the acoustic space of the town–no efforts were made (or were even possible) to separate the sounds of the bells from the life both within the church and outside its walls. Why should life stop just because I want to record something?
In the first track, we hear two klepalo (solid idiophones) played by Ivan Todorov Hadjipopov (wood) and George Lazarov Pitsin (metal). Ivan Hadjipopov then plays a solo on the four church bells in the second track, followed by George Pitsin in the third. The overtones heard during these solos defy description, and only the sounds of the town and the church-goers sporadically remind you that what you are listening to actually occurred on Earth. The final track is a solo played by Boris Ivanov Hadjipopov, and then we return to the rain…
The entire session was recorded in a single, continuous take, using two DPA 4060 capsules (mounted in my trusty Latvian mink-fur ushanka) and a Sound Devices 722 recorder, standing in the courtyard below the bell tower. My gratitude goes to Boris “Bobi” Hadjipopov, who organized the occasion, and to Elena Kaludova for her translation (and so much more). Photo by lite.
TONEWHEELS is an experiment in converting graphical imagery to sound,
inspired by some of the pioneering 20th Century electronic music
In this three day workshop from 24-27 October 2009, participants built
a simple light-to-sound converter and DC motor controller, and then
began to experiment with drawing sounds onto transparent “tonewheels”.
The workshop ended in a group performance and an invitation to the
audience to try out the instruments for themselves.
As you can see, both the participants and the audience had a great time
with this. I did too! My thanks go to Galina Dimitrova, Rene Beekman,
Prof. Svetoslav Kokalov, Venelin Shurelov, DA Festival, National
Academy of the Arts Sofia, Elena Kaludova and all the participants for a fantastic workshop in Bulgaria!
eliane radigue-triptych[2009 important]
eliane radigue-vice versa, etc….[2009 important]
phill niblock-touch strings[2009 touch]
yellow swans with john wiese-portable dunes[2009 helicopter] valerio tricoli & dominique vaccaro-live at raum 18, berlin[10.11.09]
Derek Holzer (1972) is an American instrument builder and sound artist based in Helsinki FI & Berlin DE, whose current interests include DIY analog electronics, the relationship between sound + space, media archaeology and the meeting points of electroacoustic, noise, improv and extreme music. He has performed live, taught workshops and created scores of unique instruments and installations since 2002 across Europe, North and South America, and New Zealand.