10 February 2012

the synthesizer: 'devoid of its own identity'

From that Kodwo Eshun talk, Philip Brophy discussing the synthesizer:
The role the score performs in these films is integrally tied to Tangerine Dream's use of the synthesizer as a non-definable, distanced instrument, devoid of its own identity yet capable of calling up simulated timbres in a breathy, hazy way.

Fascinated by this notion of the synth as a kind of phenomenological identity / personality crisis [got it while it was hot]. Wonder if Brophy has ever written on the sampler, which operates/sounds on/in a similar space/axis: purest identity crisis, zero content of its own, the ambiguous double flicker occurring not within the sound 'of' the instrument 'itself', but at the ragged (or immaculately clipped) edges of the sampled sound. Missed it at the time but there's an intersting post at Cold Calling about the edges of a sample, those perforations where it's been pulled from the source text.

A bit more Brophy, on John Carpenter's use of synth:
Through a brutish yet economical employment of this trait, he helped crystallize the synthesizer as an instrument of indifference and asynchronism - that 'hovering still' sensation - which then became the perfect foible against which changing degrees of dramatic tension could be measured. This was, in effect, a narratological transposition of Minimalism's drone/loop states, where the absence of 'horizontal' melody aided in one's awareness of the 'vertical' depth to any one note or musical fragment.

The whole essay can be read here.

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