in Performance Critiques

Bob Bellerue @ Mate Series 3 – March 29, 2013

Dear Meredith,

The theme is slack.

Bob [Bellerue] will present an improvised piece for slack-assed hollow body guitar, loose timpani drum head, loose snare wire, snare drum, electronics, software, and amplifiers

That announcement doesn’t mention that he’s got two subwoofers. The bass pushes against the inside of my forehead. It’s a pressure. There are also two amplifiers in the corner of the room. And a small electric guitar amp sitting of his table, next to his laptop and mixer. The slack-assed guitar is sitting atop the guitar amp. It looks like a regular guitar. I’m guessing that the strings are very loose. Better (or different) to resonate with the amp.

Bob makes noise with some the snare wire… that’s the strands of wire that sit under a snare drum. Like a tuned guitar string, they are normally in tension. But this is loose in his hands. It sounds like there are pipes in zero gravity banging into each other. He stands there, tapping the end of the snare wire, and it all gets a little boring, and I wonder — what’s this guitar there for?

Just as I think that, Bob strums the guitar, and rubs the edge of its body with the snare wire. He picks it up like a rocker. Bass inundates the room. It crawls up my feet and fulls up my chest. The dude next to me is filming but I think he should be filming someone’s wine glass so we could see the surface ripples. The guitar screeches over the bass.

And then the noise disappears. Bob cuts off the amps. No more vibes in my bones. We hear tinny sound from the guitar arm. Bob lays the guitar back onto the amp, and goes over to pick up his timpani head. Of course it has some kind of mic or pick-up. Sound of rocks rolling down a hill. And some voltage somewhere buzzes. Slowly rising buzz quickly overtakes itself in a screeching crescendo. Dancing with the knobs, Bob sustains the loud buzz. And everything is getting louder. He shakes his timpani drum and thunder rolls and the bass is getting louder. I hear falling rocks and wonder when we will feel falling plaster!

(And I thought of Mark Bain‘s desire to demolish a house with sound!)

Out of this rumbling ground, screeching feedback fires up like jets of colored smoke. (Something about heavy bass provokes synaesthesia in me. When the low-tones become touch, the higher tones become color.) And now we’re in the wow part. All the sources are just interacting. Bob rocks back and forth and plays with knobs. My chair is shaking under my ass and it seems as if the floorboards might rip apart.

And then Bob touches his guitar and there is screeching again and no more wow. And I wonder what this would sound like underwater!? There wouldn’t be any screeching!

Why? Waterborne vibrations have less effect on the ear drum than do airborne vibrations. As a result, there tends to be a muted quality to underwater sound. This is why ordinary underwater loudspeakers don’t win many awards for fidelity. However, if waterborne vibrations are strong enough, they also are conducted through the bones near our ears. This process – known as bone conduction -sends tactile sound vibrations directly to the inner ear, where they are translated into electrical signals for the brain (i.e., sound). This technology is what gives these transducers that feel-it-in-your-bones rich sound.

Clark Synthesis’ patented Aquasonic underwater loudspeakers are powerful compression drivers similar to the acclaimed Tactile Sound Transducers (TSTs) used in home theaters and other sound systems. Aquasonic speakers produce strong vibrations over a full range of tactile and audible frequencies, providing high-quality underwater sound through a combination of acoustic transmission and bone conduction.

I wonder if Clark Synthesis would ever sponsor a noise music concert in a pool? That would be killer. Anyway Meredith, it’s hard to keep writing because dirt keeps falling on my notesbook. Falling from the cracks in the ceiling. Bigger chunks sound like rain. An ultrasonic cleaning.

In the pool next time.



ps: Wanda’s belly is HUGE!

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