Lucier, Alvin: Bird And Person Dyning LP
Alvin Lucier (born May 14, 1931) is an American composer of experimental music and sound installations that explore acoustic phenomena and auditory perception. Much of his work is influenced by science and explores the physical properties of sound itself: resonance of spaces, phase interference between closely tuned pitches, and the transmission of sound through physical media.
Bird and Person Dyning is his first solo recorded work; originally released on the Italian Cramps Records label as the 11th volume of the Nova Musicha series dedicated to contemporary avant-garde composers, Bird and Person Dyning is now made available again on Dialogo in a faithful reproduction of the original gatefold cover artwork, including also an inner sleeve.
From the original liner notes:
The Duke of York (1972) “A long time ago I wanted to build a grotesque jukebox. I thought of merging three or four old jukeboxes and then recording sounds on 45s, so that you could mix the sounds together. The original idea of this work was about the power of singers and vedettes in our society and the hypothesis that their vocal personalities are present in our memory at different levels and, in addition, that all of us, living or dead, might somehow be part of a huge composite identity that is constantly changing with the birth and arrival of new people. The Duke of York is an attempt to elaborate these ideas.
A single performer chooses and determines the order of an indefinite number of whole songs, speeches, arias, selected excerpts from books, letters, poems, films, plays, TV series or any other vocal sounds, including non-human ones. The actual duration of these sounds is altered by one or more people using synthesizers or other electronic tools, basing their choices on memories or similar experiences. Once altered, for example through a filter, the example can no longer be undone, and other changes must be made to the previous examples. The effect is that of a vocal identity made of layers of separate and partial identities.
The Duke of York was composed in 1971 and was performed in its current version on 19 February 1972 at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York. Bird and Person Dyning (1975) for performers with microphones, amplifiers, speakers and a sound object.
One day I got an electronic bird in the mail. It was a silver ball with an electrical cord that, when connected, made a sound similar to that of a chirping bird [...]. A few months later I read an article in «Scientific American» about how certain birds that fly at night, particularly the bunting, cross long distances by partly orienting themselves looking at the position of the stars in relation to the rotation of Earth I owned a Sennheiser binaural microphone consisting of two mini microphones which, when introduced into the ears of a dummy or a person, faithfully reproduced the sounds as heard when they were bouncing inside the head and in the ear canals. I began experimenting by moving the sounds of the bird between two speakers, listening to them through the two mini microphones inserted in my ears, as I walked slowly through the space between the two speakers. The amplified chirps moved left and right according to my movements, creating small time delays and phase-shifts in relation to the position of the motionless bird. Sometimes the microphones would resonate with the loudspeakers, thus generating a Larsen feedback, and I could control the timbre and volume with small head movements:
A performance of Bird and Person Dyning is a live exploration of these phenomena. The title is meant as an exact description of the activity.