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Improv 04


Partitas For Long Strings

Paul Panhuysen

Long String installation

3 long tracks of very long string performances. Each cut is about 20 minutes. The installation features 16 meter-long strings. The first part: the strings have the same pitch. Second part: strings are of different lengths, and hence have different tunings. Third part: midway between theses two approaches. Plus, there is overtracking on much of the recording. All are arranged and played by Dutch composer Panhuysen, although the term "composer" (or "player," for that matter) is one he’d reject, because he feels he has only a limited influence on the strings. He strokes, then, the strings. This with rosined hands. Track one is similar to listening to a pleasing powerline that has a little more tonal variation than any powerline you’ve likely come across. Cut two is harsher and reminds me of a typical section of music by Penderecki, only more austere. At other times, it has the feel of a Stephen Scott bowed piano piece, only more severe and unvarying. I’m a big fan of Scott, but on the harmony-noise continuum, this is much closer to the noise end. There’s not as much variation here, because, unlike Scott’s works, which are usually for groups, there’s only one player here, and so there are fewer strings to alter, even with the overdubs. In giving up a lot of control, Panhuysen has left a lot to the chance sounds coming from his instrument. A non-human result is what the listener ends up with, at least most of the time. He achieves a dramatic range of harmonics, though. Like Borbetomagus, it’s difficult to stand outside this music: you’re just in it, a very overwhelming and sometimes shocking experience. For this reason, it’s not something that I’d want to listen to often. But I’m glad it’s there. I imagine it would be stunning live. The thing it most sounds like, in the final analysis, is the Voyager space recordings of cosmic radiation, solar winds, planetary magnetospheres, and the like. This is, as I’ve said, non-human sounding stuff. So I can say that Panhuysen’s strings are in touch with, if not the musical world, the music of the spheres.

Richard Grooms


Experimental Intermedia
PO Box 1754
Canal St. Station
NY, NY 10013