David Behrman

“Interspecies Smalltalk has sections, each with a different set of triggering pitches. He knew that if he played some of those pitches something would happen in the electronics. He could choose which sections he wanted to play, and if he didn’t like a particular section he could skip over it. The software was made so that if Kosugi didn’t start playing it would move on to the next section. If he did play it would stay in that section until he stopped and then move on. He did some astonishing things that I never would have thought of myself. If I had notated that piece it wouldn’t have been nearly so good. My role was to mix the different elements, and there was a subsidiary part that I sometimes played on a keyboard, adding a few extra tones here and there. I learned that you don’t want to tell the musician what to do, but on the other hand if the electronic music is not lively on its own you are relying too much on what the player does, and then there’s something wrong with the piece.”

Trumpeter Ben Neill, who can be heard on the Leapday Night CD and also Behrman’s Unforeseen Events CD has been another invaluable collaborator. “I can thank Rhys Chatham for introducing me to Ben. For years my notation was software. Notation that only a few nerdy designers could read. I’ve actually been wanting to revive the piece Leapday Night. But I look at the old software and I can barely understand it. It’s in a language that I stopped using 30 years ago. Plus it was instructions to homemade synthesizers that I don’t have any more. The MIDI synthesizers I used in the 80s still exist but they are heavy to lug around. Theoretically they are replaceable by software, but getting laptops to sound the way those synthesizers did is very hard. That’s something I’ve had to deal with through decades – changing technology and repertory vanishing simply because it can’t be revived. If you have a good recording, then at least you do have that.”

David Behrman


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