Robert Paredes

Forgetting and remembering



I am interested in the play between two (among many) significant musical taxonomies, each in a state of constant opposition and interqualification with the other.  In the first of these, the word "music" serves (traditionally) to denote a system or systems of pitch relationship-cum-organization for which sound functions as the required revelator.  In this perceptual circumstance, pitch relationships constitute what might be called the large set and sound (or rhythm, or duration, or timbre, for that matter) function almost as (if) a subsidiary phenomenon (i.e., the background "carrier," if you will, of foreground pitch information).  In the second taxonomy (and that nearer and dearer to me) the word "music" connotes an---idea/place---to which human beings come in order to construct and consider diverse sound-worlds (denotations) of their own and others’ making, for purposes of expression and redefinition, delectation and debate, reflection and inquiry.  In this perceptual circumstance, sound is the larger set within which pitch-relationships---as beautiful sub-set---might be heard in the role of background "carrier" of foreground energies---say---or timbres---say---or keenings or razzberries.....say?


I like the idea that a hearing of my music might be an occasion for thought and discourse, within and between myself and others in advance of a now familiar, but no less necessary argument that the word, "music," is not intrinsically/inextricably wedded to any particular evidence or evidences in sound: that the major/minor key system, say, is an attribute of music, but not.....MUSIC (as if the major/minor key system was ((or should be)) all that need (((or could))) be....said....say?).


During the years 1984-86, I lived in Melbourne, Australia.  Throughout my stay, I had many opportunities to perform new compositions, Klezmer and Middle-European folk musics, jazz, and to work in the theater (specifically, as a "devisor" of sounds for a production of Antigone mounted by the Playbox Theater Company).  I was also fortunate to be able to improvise regularly with a group of musicians---[i.e. Catherine Schieve, Joan Pollock, Allan Walker, and Tim Dargaville]---at LaTrobe University (in the northern suburb of Bundoora).  This latter, more private, situation afforded me a safe place in which to examine my improvisational practice and aesthetics through participation in real-time interactive performances over an extended period of time.  Perhaps more than any other, this musical experience caused me to consider that the language of my improvisation---unmediated by visual notations---could, in fact, be the language of my composition: that the distinction which I habitually made between something called "composition" and something called "improvisation" might, at best, be proforma and predicated on the relative presence or absence of something called "paper."


Both works included on this disc are compositions/improvisations originally committed directly to tape.  I think of them variously as a kind of painting or drawing (or writing) in which the surface of the tape constitutes a repository (not unlike a canvas) for etchings or inscriptions; traces of tactile energies and shapes (gestures and levels of pressure) to be retraced as sound via the means of playback equipment.  By virtue of repeated performances, I have come, as well, to experience them more as a kind of music-theater than---(de facto)---a kind of music-music; wordless plays in which the loudspeakers are the actors: multiply-motile speak(er)ing(s) discursive within the obdurate stillness of speakers. Who are "they," and what are they saying?



Forgetting and Remembering     


The disorder I want could be an order I fear.


The disorder I fear could be an order I want.


The disorder I fear could be an order I fear.


The disorder I want could be an order I want.




(with a nod to Cardew*), how interesting is it---finally---to get what one wants....(or fears?). 


Seven simultaneously-sounding clarinet improvisations, recorded a track at a time on a single eight-track tape.  Each one made on a different day.  Each one made without having listened to any whole (or part) of a previous performance (or performances) in order that I might have access to the past only through memory.



Each (one) an expression of responses/reactions/relatings to and/or (at precious moments) escapes from, both the memories of a preceding day's play and emerging speculations/predictions (rosy and dire) concerning both the composite identity of the work on any given day, and as it could be imagined to exist in an ultimate form. 


All together, an unfolding of different-past-past-sounds speaking to one another within a present.  How, I wonder, would it be (actually) to experience it this way?


Forgetting and Remembering was made at the Melbourne studios of Australian Broadcasting Corporation during a one-week period in December, 1986: Robert Paredes, clarinet(s), Stephen Snelleman, producer.


#17 (Speakers): [in every moment {of] decay}....

for two-channel tape


Tape music made in the old style from the sounds of analog electronics, clarinet, tenor sax, kalimba and assorted noise makers wherein "decay," as connotative/denotative signifier informs the music at levels large and small.  On the micro level, for example, the work is articulated by "conversations" made through operations on the decay characteristics, first of individual timbre/frequencies, then of selected bodies, and then (again) of mergers of bodies of the source material.  At the middle level, these mergers are composed into aperiodic "breath-phrases" of grainy, chattering intensity, driven by mid-low frequency quasi-drones which in turn propel clarinet-driven electronic screamings and/or skirlings and/or keenings.  These latter impulses, forming arcs within a larger arc, emerge, gain in graded levels of intensity and ultimately dissipate rather than decisively conclude.  At the macro level---(the larger arc)---the composition is a bipartite structure in which first-half, multi-source, sound-energies, embroiled in a complex of intensification/dissipation, give way to a steady state, second-half unfolding of purely electronic contemplation/speak ending in disconnection. 

From this layered and leveled world of sound, I can infer the inevitable decay of ways of creating, teaching, interacting,....the inevitable decay of mediums of expression (of passé technology operating at the edge of broken-down; of non-conductive patch cords failing to enable the breathing of a circuit ((the emergence of a thought)), of painful surges from nowhere in particular)....the inevitable decay of the human body, of human connection, one to another, possible only, yet doomed, through bodies....of dreams now nearly every moment of decay I can, as well, infer the sound(s) of an inevitable and beautiful resistance thereto(o). 


#17 (Speakers) [in every moment{of] decay} was made at the Experimental Music Studios [Lewis Studio] of the University of Iowa between August, 1992 and March, 1993.



ROBERT PAREDES (b. San Diego, 1948) is a composer, multi-woodwind performer, writer, and visual artist currently living in Iowa City.  He has taught electronic music, composition, and experimental performance at the University of Iowa where he received both the MA and Ph.D degrees in composition, studying principally with Kenneth Gaburo.  His music has been performed in Iowa, Australia, Brazil, and Europe.  Compositions include (On)e), for flute and clarinet; Strict Time Lingering, trio for clarinet, trumpet, and violin; Speakers, a series of tape compositions now seventeen in number; Empty and So What Now?, reflective writings-as-wordmusics for solo reader; and Small Writing, for cellist.  Small Writing and #16 (Speakers)/Fiesta, for two-channel tape, are available on compact disc via the innova and Music and Arts labels respectively.  Empty appears in Perspectives of New Music (Volume 33, Nos. 1 and 2---Winter and Summer 1995).  Performance affiliations over the years have included various ensembles associated with the work of environmental composer, David Dunn, the Harry Partch Ensemble, Big Jewish Band of San Diego (Klezmer music), Schieve-Paredes Duo (performing their own compositions and compositions written especially for them), Leadbelly Legacy Band (Jazz), and, most recently, Rude Review (live-electronic/folk/jazz), Oft(en)semble (Jazz orchestra), Oddbar (jazz quintet) and participation in an improvising trio with composer/keyboardist, Matt Marth, and contrabassist, Anton Hatwich).



This recording was mastered at the University of Iowa Recording Studios in March, 1994 : Lowell Cross, recording engineer.


I wish to thank Melody Scherubel, Stephen Snelleman, Lowell Cross, Susan Millar, Robert Fuller, David Rubright, Matthew Wickham-Burrier, Matt Marth, Mary Means, Ianos Schmidt, David Muller, Kirk Corey, Jennifer Masada, Gary Verkade, and Philip Blackburn.


Background graphic materials are from journal entries made between each of Forgetting and Remembering's separate performances.


Photos of Robert Paredes and his attic by Philip Blackburn, also graphic designer and executive producer.  Back cover photo with Rottnest Island quokka by Catherine Schieve.



Forgetting and Remembering is dedicated to Joan Pollock, Alan Walker, Tim Dargaville and Catherine Schieve.


#17 (Speakers), [in every moment {of] decay} is dedicated to the memory of Kenneth Gaburo (1926-1993), teacher and friend.


This compact disc in its entirety is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Laureta Williams (1919-1999).