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.
Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences... That solves a lot of problems ... Art is something that happens, a process, not a quality, and all sorts of things can make it happen ... [W]hat makes a work of art 'good' for you is not something that is already 'inside' it, but something that happens inside you...
When you build a building, you finish a building. You don't finish a garden; you start it, and then it carries on with its life. So my analogy was really to say that we composers or some of us should think of ourselves as people who start processes rather than finish them. And there might be surprises.
The tools are evolving, and people's interests are evolving as well. So, suddenly people like to hear bands, people like Devendra Banhart or the xx, bands that make a kind of virtue of sloppiness. That isn't what they would describe what they're doing, but the fact is they make a virtue of the sort of hand-made nature of what they're doing.
There's a kind of edge to what you're doing, the kind of leading edge of what you're doing. Inside that edge [are elements you] are familiar with, and are probably becoming slightly bored with, as well, over a period of time. "I've pulled that one out before. Oh, no, I can't I'm just fed up with that. Let's do something else."And you always think "Oh my God I've never done anything at all like that before." But, of course, in retrospect, and to an outsider, they'll say, "Oh, yeah that's typical Eno."
Sometimes something intrigues me about particular sounds, how they work together, and I think "Okay, I've found something here; I'm going to take it somewhere." And sometimes just to find a name for that sound, whatever it is, ends up becoming a title of the piece or becoming part of the title.
The time I like listening to music most on headphones is, I have a game I play with my brother, he's a musician as well.And he sends me MIDI files of keyboard pieces. So, these are pieces where I just get a MIDI file; I don't know what instrument he was playing them on; I know nothing about his section of the sound of the piece, and then when I'm sitting on trains I do a lot of train travel I turn them into pieces of music. And I love to do that; it's my favorite hobby.
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The seven white notes on the piano - each section of the piece (there are 12 sections) is five of those seven white notes. If you calculate it, there are 21 groups of five notes in any group of seven notes. And although there are 12 sections, this piece actually uses nine of those groups because some of the sections repeat earlier ones. So that's the formula. It's very simple as a way of generating something. It's my inner minimalist.
Since I have always preferred making plans to executing them, I have gravitated towards situations and systems that, once set into operation, could create music with little or no intervention on my part. That is to say, I tend towards the roles of planner and programmer, and then become an audience to the results
I hate the thought that someone had picked up one of my song records and was really excited about it, and walks [out of] a record shop with On Land and is disappointed because it isn't what they wanted. So, I try to make signs, graphically and visually, to say to people "Okay, this is this department of my work and this is this other department of my work." And of course I'm very pleased if people like all of them, but I don't want them to feel deceived at any point.
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