The micro-compositions are the pieces themselves, but the macro-composition is the whole set of them and how it moves from track to track and how the titles relate to one another, for example. Always when I do records like this of a selection of instrumental pieces - the titles, to me, are very important.
I think the other thing that's important is getting to a place, which very, very rarely happens with improvising groups, where somebody can decide not to play for a while. You watch any group of musicians improvising together and they nearly all play nearly all the time. In fact I often say that the biggest difference between classical music and everything else is that classical musicians sometimes shut up because they're told to, because the score tells them to. Whereas any music that's sort of based on folk or jazz, everybody plays all the time.
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Basically, you're still sitting there using just the muscles of your hand, really. Of one hand, actually. It's another example of the transfer of literacy to making music because the assumption is that everything important is happening in your head; the muscles are there simply to serve the head. But that isn't how traditional players work at all; musicians know that their muscles have a lot of stuff going on as well. They're using their whole body to make music, in fact.
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When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That's one of the great feelings - to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.
Quite often, and in fact more often, I would say, I'm struggling all the way through to think, "What is it I like about this? What is the personality of this thing I'm hearing that I like so much?" And it's nearly always a sort of mixed emotion, which is why I like it. It's something that I have mixed feelings about in the sense that it's both, say, placid and dangerous, or bitter and sweet, or dark and bright.
You just make different music on a computer. And you can make wonderful music on a computer, but don't pretend that the machinery is transparent. It makes as much difference to what you're doing as it does if you play an acoustic guitar as opposed to a kettledrum. You're not going to make the same music.
In terms of what has been happening recently, there have been, I think, some really interesting new instruments that have come out that sort of show me the direction of the future. Korg has introduced the - they've had a whole series now of these things called Kaoss Pads. They're wonderful because they do get your muscles working again. And what DJs do, of course, with their DJ turntables now, the CD turntables, which have pitch change and speed change and everything else. They're doing something that I think is interestingly physical.
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I think records were just a little bubble through time and those who made a living from them for a while were lucky. There is no reason why anyone should have made so much money from selling records except that everything was right for this period of time. I always knew it would run out sooner or later. It couldn't last, and now it's running out. I don't particularly care that it is and like the way things are going. The record age was just a blip. It was a bit like if you had a source of whale blubber in the 1840s and it could be used as fuel. Before gas came along, if you traded in whale blubber, you were the richest man on Earth. Then gas came along and you'd be stuck with your whale blubber. Sorry mate - history's moving along. Recorded music equals whale blubber. Eventually, something else will replace it.
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If we are ever going to achieve a rational approach to organizing our affairs, we have to dignify the process of admitting to being wrong. It doesn't help matters at all if the media, or your friends, accuse you of "flip-flopping" when you change your mind. Changing our minds is our hope for the future.
I think that's very significant that we're so attached to the idea now of - it was something I advocated for years, that you can make music in studios, music doesn't have to be made as a real-time experience. But now you see the results of that in people who are completely crippled unless they know that they have the possibility of "cut and paste" and "undo." And "undo" and "undo" and "undo" and "undo" and "undo" again.
I still do mostly listen to CDs. I think that every format really is a different way of listening. If you take a different sort of psychological stance to it - like, I think the transition from vinyl to CD definitely marked a difference in the way people treated music. The vinyl commands a certain kind of reverence because it's a big object and quite fragile so you handle it rather carefully, and it's expensive so you pay attention to how it's looked after.
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I always have wanted to know how the whole thing was done, what the process involved. And I don't particularly enjoy that my music is stripped of ancillary details, and it just sort of comes out of this big tap called the Internet like water. I like some of my water to be neatly presented in a bottle.With a label on it.