David Tudor (1926 - 1976)


David Tudor - On Live Electronics:

As long as there are people who realize that machines are not interesting and that behind any music there has to be a live person, I think that we might be able to overcome the omnipresence of synthesizers and keyboards. A lot of it is in the character of the listening: if the loudspeakers themselves are just pumping something canned or whether they are really talking to you, and that's something that really only a musician listening to it can give you. I mean, if you have a musician performing a piece who is in the same space, who is listening to the sound, who knows when and how to make an alteration to enliven the situation, then you feel that something live is happening. If you don't have that, then you have to accept the fact that it's like going to the cinema. Things won't progress if electronic music remains on that level.

From an interview by Teddy Hultberg

TH: When you perform, sitting behind your tables full of components, you give the impression that something is going to happen here that is not totally predictable. It seems that you want to surprise yourself as much as you want to surprise the audience. Is that correct?

DT: Oh yes. When things are going very well, I might smile. (laughter) I have been known to laugh at my own performances, just for the joy of it, not making fun. When things are really lively, it makes me want to get up and leave the table and let it play.


Rainforest by David Tudor (1968 - 1973)

In 1973 I made Rainforest IV where the objects that the sounds are sent through are vary large so that they have their own presence in space. I mean, they actually sound locally in the space where they're hanging as well as being supplemented by a loudspeaker system. The idea is that if you send sound through materials, the resonant nodes of the materials are released and those can be picked up by contact microphones or phono cartridges and those have a different kind of sound than the object does when you listen to it very close where it's hanging. It becomes like a reflection and it makes, I thought, quite a harmonious and beautiful atmosphere, because whereever you move in the room, you have reminiscences of something that you have heard at some other point in the space. It's a large group piece actually, any number of people can participate in it. It's important that each person makes their own sculpture. decides how to program it, and performs it themselves. Very little instruction is necessary for the piece. I've found it to be almost self-teaching because you discover how to program the devices by seeing what they like to accept. It's been a very rewarding type of activity for me. It's been done by as large a group as 14 people. So that was how our Rainforest was done.

Photos by Matt Rogalsky, Lincoln Center 1998