RAINFOREST - David Tudor
Sounds electronically derived from the resonant characteristics of physical materials.
First version (1968), a sound-score for Merce Cunningham's dance work of the same name, established a means of sound transformations without the use of electronic modulation: the source sounds, when transmitted through the physical materials, will be modified by the resonant nodes of those materials.
Fourth version (1973): A collaborative environmental work, spatially mixing the live sounds of suspended sculptures and found objects, with their transformed reflections in an audio system.
"In the first version, I made objects which I could travel with. The object were so small, however, that they didn't have any sounding presence in the space, so I then amplified the outputs with the use of contact microphones. Then for the second version, I wanted to have a different kind of input... because for the first I had used oscillators that made animal and bird-like sounds. In the second version I wanted to use a vocal input to the system, the natural resonance of the object and its subsequent amplification. Its a kind of mechanical filter.
The third version had to deal with the ability to have any input go to any transducer. I made that system for a simultaneous performance with John Cage (Mureau). It was one of those pieces that changes all the time so I needed to have a sort of continuous thing, so I used tape sources, but having the ability to mix them or separate them into different output channels.
So the next step was "Rainforest IV"... the object was to make the sculptures sound in the space themselves. Part of that process is that you are actually creating a an environment. The contact mikes on the objects pickup the resonant frequencies which one hears when very close to the object, and then are amplified through a loudspeaker as an enhancement." (this transcription is partially edited from the original)
- David Tudor, form interview by John Fullemann 10/12/85
"My piece, "Rainforest IV", was developed from ideas I had as early as 1965. The basic notion, which is a technical one, was the idea that the loudspeaker should have a voice which was unique and not just an instrument of reproduction, but as an instrument unto itself. an offer came, which didn't get realized, but I was asked to make a proposal for a park in Washington. The ideas was to have a sounding outdoor sculpture, so my mind began turning around. I thought, 'wouldn't it be wonderful if each sculpture sounded completely different from the other and the whole could be run by one machine which could be like a commutator.'
I eventually acquired some devices called audio transducers. They were first developed for the US Navy because they needed a device which could sound above and under the water simultaneously. I went to see the manufacturer of these devices and they gave me several samples. They later produced a commercial version. I had them in 1968 when MC asked me for a dance score and I decided that I would try to do the sounding sculpture on a very small scale. I took these transducers and attached them to very small objects and then programmed them with signals from sound generators. The sound they produced was then picked up by phono cartridges and then sent to a large speaker system. Several different versions of this piece were produced.
In 1973 I made "Rainforest IV" where the objects that the sounds are sent through are very large so that they have their own presence in space. I mean, they actually sound locally in the space where they are hanging as well as being supplemented by a loudspeaker system. The idea is that if you send sound through materials, the resonant nodes of the materials are released and those can be picked up by contact microphones or phono cartridges and those have a different kind of sound than the object does when you listen to it very close where it's hanging. It becomes like a reflection and it makes, I thought, quite a harmonious and beautiful atmosphere, because wherever you move in the room, you have reminiscences of something you have heard at some other point in the space. It's (can be) a large group piece actually, any number of people can participate in it. It's important that each person makes their own sculpture, decides how to program it, and performs it themselves. Very little instruction is necessary for the piece. I've found it to be almost self-teaching because you discover how to program the devices by seeing what they like to accept. Its been a very rewarding type of activity for me. It's been done by as large a group as 14 people. So that was how our Rainforest was done."
-David Tudor, from An Interview with David Tudor by Teddy Hultberg in Dusseldorf, May 17-18, 1988.
If you haven't seen them yet, take a look at some Rainforest diagrams
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