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   Jacket 31 — October 2006        link Jacket 31 Contents page        link Jacket Homepage
Robert Creeley

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David Felder

in conversation with Michael Kelleher

This piece is about 2 printed pages long.

Here is a brief interview with composer David Felder about his piece, “So Quiet Here,” based on four poems by Robert Creeley. It can be listened to here: authors/Creeley/Creeley-Robert_So-Quiet-Here_Buffalo_2006.mp3

The four sections pieces are named as follows:

1. Buffalo Evening
2. Spring Light
3. Edges
4. Goodbye

MK: What about Creeley’s work made you want to use it as the basis of a musical piece?

DF: Bob and I always planned on doing a project together. I used a few lines from some of his poems in an instrumental piece in 2001-2 called ‘partial [dist]res[s]toration’. Then he left Buffalo, and then shockingly he passed away, and the collaboration never happened. When Bruce Jackson and Pen were at Bruce and Diane’s annual summer party, and I was there as well, we cooked up the opportunity for me to finally do something.

What always appealed to me in the work was the sound of his reading, the emotion in the voice, the idiosyncratic sound of that experience, and of course many of the poems themselves. I am particularly moved by the late work, the movement away from the direct ties to individual experiences in a lot of his work toward the broadening out to a more universal experience. Through his personal revelation in these late works he touches and evokes the trans-personal in a much more conscious way. This seems more ‘musical’ to me and I’m deeply moved by these works.

So, that combination almost compelled me to do what I did.

MK: Could you describe in as much detail as you have time for, your compositional method for “So Quiet Here”?

DF: First I selected the poems with an attempt to evoke a seasonal, cyclic time, the time of the life cycle if you prefer. Each of the 4 poems then is a ‘season’ beginning with Winter that uses in a direct way his poem “Buffalo Winter”. Obviously, place is an important factor as well. He is ‘here’, and moves up and out’ during the four.

Secondly, I worked with two audio programmers, JT Rinker, and Olivier Pasquet, to construct processing patches that would utilize the sound of Bob’s reading the individual poems as the primary source, followed by ‘elemental sounds’; sounds of crunching ice for example in Winter. Each poem has its own patch and own sound universe made from the two different sources — Bob is very present in the first poem — we hear him reading — but is entirely absent in the last aside from the resonant traces left behind from an analysis and particular re-synthesis of his voice using only the highest partials/overtones of his reading the poem. Another example in the third piece called Edges, is a quasi acoustic bass-drum made from a re-synthesis of his voice, but dropped down very low in a deliberate way to evoke both his love for jazz, and simultaneously the low rumble of funereal drums.

Between these two extremes in the first and last, the middle poems are stages in the movement from here to there, wherever there is now for each listener. For me the last poem is an aetherial, ghostly, and even beautiful resonance of something that is no longer embodied, yet is very, very present and that can be ‘heard and felt’ when we stop and listen for it…

MK: Finally, given the listeners will be listening over the internet, are their any special instructions you might recommend for hearing the piece best?

Its best in 4 channels but that doesn’t seem like a real option on the internet. Perhaps some day I might release this work on a multi-channel surround disc, with some other occasional pieces I’ve made dedicated to others of importance in my life, in a kind of suite or album of pieces. One inevitability it seems is that as my friends and colleagues age and ‘leave’, there will be more such pieces, if I am lucky enough to be around to do them.