RadiaLx, 88.4 FM, Lisbon, Portugal. 28 June 2012.
This was a thirty minute-long radio programme that I prepared especially for the RadiaLx international radio art festival.
The electric guitar is a tactile surface that generates sound through electromagnetic induction, without the need for any source of electrical power. This delicate instrument creates sound from traceries of almost-nothing, invisible fields in the air. And yet, through amplification, overdrive, and distortion, it is associated with testosterone-driven rock'n'roll power plays. So it's not really the guitar that is the rock instrument par excellance, but rather the guitar amplifier.
This piece explores that dichotomy. I first played an electric guitar with no amplification, so that only the acoustic sounds could be heard. Those strings that were in fact strung, were not in any case tuned. I struck the body, applied the tip of a string directly to the electromagnet of the pickup, and used other non-idiomatic musical techniques.
As a separate activity I created a software patch in which the resulting guitar samples could be over-amped to produce some of the noises most associated with concert rock. I carefully chose the aesthetics of this environment to incorporate both radio-line type distortions and cavernous reverberation. The result heard here was improvised entirely in real-time.
This method entirely separates the sound-making from the music-making activites, in a manner still perhaps unusual for this instrument. It reflects my nostalgia for the rock guitar sounds of late-seventies FM radio, but also my frustration with the musical forms that normally confined those sounds to banality.