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NOEL SANGER interview

  TRUMMERFLORA

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Marcos Fernandes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name of this experimental music collective refers to a variety of flora that only appears in war ravaged areas. When parts of buildings and earth are fused in rubble structures during war violence, seeds and such that have been dormant in the earth suddenly find themselves in a situation to live, growing from gardens of broken buildings. The music from Trummerflora Collective fairly eclectic within its parameters, including more accessible tracks, avant garde jazz numbers, occasional discordant dadaist jazz gone random, percussive textures, dark ambience, twangy weirdness, haunted meets jazz musings, atmospheric oddities, and sometimes just hyper noise. Die-hard experimentalists will likely embrace most of their offerings. Others will like some and be turned off by others. But all told, they worth seeking out for adventurous listeners.

I also like how Nathan puts it: "musical legos." And in the collective spirit, rather than just talking to one of the rather large collective, we got responses to our interview questions (some answered some, some answered others) from 5 members of the free thinking group of musicians for this interview!

1. Nathan Hubbard

For those less musically-educated among our readers, what does it mean when your compositions are described as being conceived using "modular notation and open instrumentation"?

Hello, Nathan Hubbard here, I guess I'll answer this one since I use this kind of language. Where most notation is played from beginning to end, "Modular Notation" refers to the process of breaking up that time line into smaller boxes. These smaller boxes can be put in any order, overlap or occur simultaneously. Sort of like musical Legos. While most music scores are for an exact number and combination of instruments, "Open Instrumentation" refers to pieces that can be played by any group of instruments, so a piece could be performed by six DJs or twenty baritone saxes while still retaining its original flavor.

The first track on your latest CD is dedicated to Rhys Chatham (for RC). Who is that and why did you dedicate it to him?

Ah yes, another question for Hubbard - the opening track on Rubble 2 (Track 1) is dedicated to Rhys Chatham, composer, guitarist, trumpeter. Chathams early work fits neatly between the punk of The Ramones and the Post-Minimalism of Lamonte Young. Since then, he has written pieces for his 100 guitar orchestra, gave Glen Branca a good starting point, and worked extensively with dance. In recent times, Chatham has recorded several breakbeat-oriented recordings playing trumpet, you can check them out on the Ninja Tune/N-Tone label. Also highly recommended is the box set An Angel Moves Too Fast To See on Table Of Elements. The piece was dedicated to him because I love his music and this was my way of thanking him for it. Thanks Rhys!

2. Curtis Glatter

How did you end up as the Trummerflora Collective?

Each of the members collaborate locally, nationally and universally on a continual basis and agree to represent the collective on a global scale.

What's kept you together over the past 7 years?


The joy of being in and seeing Trummerflora prosper and stick to their collective guns as a collective and as individuals

For those less musically-educated among our readers, what does it mean when your compositions are described as being conceived using "modular notation and open instrumentation"?

Visually or Typo-Graphically cued and metrically rubato music at times but not always.

The first track on your latest CD is dedicated to Rhys Chatham (for RC). Who is that and why did you dedicate it to him?

Hubbard has the riddle to that question.

How did you record your album – do you all play together "live" in a studio, or do you record different parts and create the songs in a computer program?

Yes and Yes Sometimes Together Sometimes Separate Now But Not Always.

How can we know where TFC will be performing live next?

Go to www.trummerflora.com or myspace.com/trummerfloracollective

Anything else you'd like to say?

Fear No Music


3. Marcos Fernandes


There are quite a lot of you! Who is this?

Marcos Fernandes here. One of fourteen active members.

How did you end up as the Trummerflora Collective?

There were six "founding" members at its inception in 2000. Marcelo Radulovich, Robert Montoya and I had known each other for many years and were looking for a venue to present an experimental music series when we met Hans Fjellestad and Damon Holzborn who in turn introduced us to Jason Robinson. We started talking and realized that we all had similar goals and decided to "collectivise." We launched a monthly concert series at The Casbah in July of 1999 followed by the Trummerflora website - then a local experimental music resource - in January of 2000.

What's kept you together over the past 7 years?

I think it's because we can accomplish so much more as a collective than as individuals. It's the cooperation vs. competition paradigm. We're a part of the community and will keep growing as long as the community sustains us. The collective is an organic thing that keeps growing and evolving. Some of us have moved away and so we now have members in Los Angeles, New York City, Denver and even Lima, Peru. We have presented numerous concert series and have organized the annual Spring Reverb Festival since 2001. www.springreverb.com

What is a Trummerflora?

In the words of Newton and Helen Harrison who coined the phrase, "Trummerflora, or rubble plants and trees, are a special phenomenon unique to heavily bombed urban areas. The bomb acts as a plow, mixing rubble fragments with the earth, which often contain seeds dormant for a century or more. These seeds come to light and those that can live in this new and special earth grow and flourish." I came across this in 1992 when the experimental artists were joining forces in an otherwise very competitive and fragmented music scene in San Diego. I thought it was very appropriate.

How did you record your album – do you all play together "live" in a studio, or do you record different parts and create the songs in a computer program?

The process varies as all the tracks were recorded and produced by the individual artist or group. My track, "Parlance" with Lisle Ellis as well as "Field Day" with Trio Maghreb were both recorded live in a studio. "Parlance" was recorded on digital tape (ADAT) while "Field Day" was recorded onto a hard-drive (ProTools).

How can we know where TFC will be performing live next?

You can visit our website or the individual artists' websites. You can also join our email list by writing us at rubble@trummerflora.com - there's a Trummerflora discussion list on Yahoogroups that you can subscribe to as well.

Anything else you'd like to say?

Support your local arts community. Go listen to live music and often.


4. Ellen Weller

How did you end up as the Trummerflora Collective?


The Collective part of the name is important- I feel pretty comfortable in saying that many of us have rejected the authoritarian, white European, hegemonic artistic model in favor of a more democratic, spontaneous inclusive model that privileges present collaboration over slavish replication of a specific past, and empowers performers and audience members in creating their musical experience each according to their personal aesthetics. This combination of individuality and communally generated experience is embodied in the word "collective."


What's kept you together over the past 7 years?


There is a need in our community (San Diego) for the presentation of boundary-pushing music. We fill an important role in the music scene, and I believe that we share a sense of dissatisfaction with the artistic status quo. Our members are involved in projects that often overlap, and we support each other's events through cross-promotion. That we influence each other is pretty much a given; I personally have learned a tremendous amount about ways of hearing and thinking about music. Also, I detect in our region a growing appreciation for authentic, unmediated experiences – in other words, live, spontaneous cultural performance.

What is a Trummerflora?

In addition to the quoted definition, I interpret Trummerflora (it is plural, not singular) as those who create beauty in the midst of, and even out of, the realities of our present bombed-out social fabric.


For those less musically-educated among our readers, what does it mean when your compositions are described as being conceived using "modular notation and open instrumentation"?


In addition to the techniques utilized by Nathan Hubbard, many in our collective utilize graphic notation, which uses symbolic representation of musical texture, time, volume and pitch using lines, boxes, triangles, squiggles other than those found in the classical European notation of the past 400 years. Much is left up to the artistic sensibility of the performer, as is the case in many musical styles practices throughout the world. Other times, our compositions are created in real-time, without any notation at all, in a collaborative style involving more conversational models – especially the part where we speak the same language and listen to each other. Yet still another form of composition is found with the computer composers, who may not be dealing with specifically pitched instruments, but rather sounds that are better described as overlapping textures and sound sources instead of pitch and duration, as found in traditional notation.

The duo track I did with Bob Weller was recorded live in a studio when he was producing a jazz album, and I happened in on the session. I then submitted the mixed tracks to the Collective for inclusion on the compilation. Different tracks on the CD were produced in distinct ways, depending on the media/instrumentation used.

How can we know where TFC will be performing live next?


TFC is not a "band" in the traditional sense. Our members post their projects to the website calendar. If you see the band Borborygmus, however, you will catch most of us onstage at the same time.

Anything else you'd like to say?


For years, I played in established ensembles that played the music of the past, or music of other people. I have always been an improviser/composer, and I began formulating other approaches after I obtained a Masters in Composition – the traditional pen and ink way. It is refreshing to be a part of a movement that looks to the future, and refuses to limit itself to previously explored turf. Being safe isn't in our vocabulary.



5. Jason Robinson



How did you end up as the Trummerflora Collective?


Robinson: I'd like to add that there was an "ecumenical" energy that helped lead to the formation of the collective. It seemed as if all of the six original members were coming from different musical worlds, different backgrounds (electronic music, world music, jazz, composition, etc…). We embraced this plurality and felt that what we made together as a collective was a new kind of improvised and experimental music that invited and embraced boundary crossings. This has continued to be a focus as we've added new members, as Ellen so eloquently writes.

What's kept you together over the past 7 yeWars?


Robinson: Trummerflora also plays a role in a global network of communities focused on experimental music. The work that we do locally (in San Diego) has offered us the opportunity to present and collaborate with artists from around the world. Many of the recent recordings by Trummerflora artists were initiated through our work as concert and festival producers.

Thank you all for your time!

:: www.trummerflora.com ::

:: myspace.com/trummerfloracollective ::

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