At the end of September 2019, the Hurdy Gurdy player from Guelph, Canada, named Ben Grossman came to Marseille to play in the premier of Guillaume Orti’s “… ence” at the Festival Les Emouvantes. He stayed the weekend and we organized a concert in a beautiful cave in the stunning Calanques National Park just outside of town.
Before that, I took him aside for a discussion à la Echo Chamber:- we covered the immediacy of prepared acoustic instruments compared to electronics; making sounds “acceptable” through extended techniques; how good improvisation resembles a enriching conversation; the problems with the term “experimental”; translating and the problems of using words in general, and even a little Rite of Spring.
Throughout the episode are extracts of some of Ben’s releases. Choosing which of his sounds to put where was particularly fun this time because one of the releases featured, “MACROPHONE: Aleatoric Solo Duets for Electro-Acoustic Hurdy Gurdy” is a double CD where the listener is actually instructed to play both disks simultaneously, setting each to shuffle or replay, so as to “create the experience of improvisation in a recording”. So I played around with the tracks and two combinations came up which I particularly liked, which you can hear at the beginning and at 32’50” of the episode.
The other performances that feature are taken from the cave concert – first, a part of Ben’s solo that he began in the belly of the cave, and the second, a trio with percussionist Vincent Roussel and myself alongside Ben.
Thanks so much Ben for your time and the beautiful concert!