Carl Rosman

04:12:   I just talk / you just talk / I just talk. I’m Carl Rosman, the clarinet player with Musikfabrik, this is Harmonic Canon 1. This is the instrument I play in Delusion of the Fury and in many other pieces. I chose it just because we were told “choose an instrument for the piece” and I listen to the recording of the piece and I had the beginning of the piece and I thought “ok I’d like to make that sound in the piece”. And nobody else had chose an instrument already so I (he plays), so I, I got to make that sound. What to say about the instrument? It’s… Do I need to describe the instrument as it is? / It would be nice / the harmonic canon instruments usually have 44 strings and they’re usually tune in groups so that you have (he plays), so that you have several strings tune to one note because the strings are never exactly the same intonation, those, those strings reinforce each other’s vibrations, which makes the resonance last longer, so the instrument has his one sympathetic tone, well they’re sympathetic for each other. Unlike the original harmonic canons, the Castor and Pollux and Blue Rainbow instruments, this has more possibilities because he’s basically put two harmonic canons on one instrument. You have the left-hand side tuning groups (he plays), […] six groups, and you have the right-hand side tuning groups (he plays) and then a little fragment of the complete scale (he plays). And then I, basically just intonation F Major. So you have… so you write sometimes melodies (he plays), you sometimes write melodies on those strings. He’s sometimes after, well mostly [placed under] fragments (he plays) on these strings. And he has edit another melodic element in these [rode] which changes the length of these, of these strings, which (he plays)… they’re [includes] but they’re moveable (he plays).

06:42:   [He usually asks to those strings we play together with the, with the drum] strings on the left so, the strings cross here (he plays).

07:02:   This was an interesting problem at the beginning for this instrument because our instrument builder had simply fitted these strings onto the instrument but when he looked at the repertoire and [played] music that was written for it, he sees that Partch needed both strings to be plugged here (he plays), in this area and this goes all the way [back up] here (he plays). He wanted both [fixes] strings to be plugged on this side of the instrument. There was a small problem that, just looking at the instrument it’s a bit hard to tell and looking at the repertoire you just need to find the passages when Partch needs that to happen. And our instrument builder hadn’t done that in the first place so he needed to… The first instrument I had, the strings crossed over here, so, the, the, [all bases on that plan] didn’t work so he made […]. And there is another Partch, there’s another difference from the Partch original. Partch originally had this bridge movable so that (he plays), so that […] just these notes would sounds from the [drums] at the bottom. We found that just moving this bridge was very bad for the intonation and stability of the instrument and was actually quite, it actually didn’t work from the point of view of shortening these strings so well because what, it’s difficult to spread the tension across the strings so the, the bridge would move up here and the strings would get looser at the same time as they got shorter so that the intonation effect wasn’t predictable. Even on the piano string, they need to spread the intonation, they need to spread tension across the string and you have this bridge in the middle of the string, you need to spread the, the [difference in] tension across the string needs to be regulated, so you need to… push the strings down on the side.

09:02:   So we found an [artwork] solution that work well, which is a roll that goes between the (he plays)… goes between the strings in the sounding board, we’ve got a little bit of extra wood for that. Partch needs three settings in Delusion of the Fury which are roughly F, F sharpen G is the bass note and the, the fifth above it moves with it. And sometimes those changes happen very quickly in the Sanctus of Delusion of the Fury the other couple of bars to change the tuning of these notes (he plays), which is never going to work with the original works quite well with this rode, you can just turn it, move [one of these spots] to another. That’s probably not a bad mechanic of it for start here.

09:54:   As far as playing techniques and difficulties we found, the mine problem with all the instruments is a question of automatism which is that we’ve all spend decades playing our instruments s we know when the sound is going to come out without thinking about it and if you move from a tongue and a reed and a pair of lungs to a pick and 88 strings, the physical interface is completely different. So the ensemble effect of […] needs to come now, exactly when it comes, that is, there’s a physical automatism that needs to be programmed in. And there is also, just simply the question of [yes] learning an instrument who is physically interface, who is completely different not just from the point of view when the sound comes out but also from the point of view of the the time lag between seeing the music in front of you and, or seeing the score in front of you and producing the sound, what the brain needs the think of before that happens. Partch had quite a few more years on these instruments and build them all one by one and got use to them all one by one, where we, as an ensemble, have quite or more basically one go. [So the, uhm the…] So that everyone was basically faced with the challenge of learning a completely new instrument where in Partch’s case there was more experience on the instruments[ that were build up]. But yes, so putting an entire ensemble of instruments together twenty-ish players, most of them playing instruments whose physical interface is completely different from their native instrument – that was a very interesting experience for us all.

11:33:   [Question] And how do they work as audio qualities? Are they weak in sound or do you get a lot of [inaudible] from all the instruments and then can you hear the others well?

11:53    It’s not a difficult… There is a thing for me with [phase]instruments, we have almost always played them in a context where they’re all amplified. And then there is the constant discussion of ok do I have a monitor speaker for the other instruments or do I rely on my ears to hear them. For example the whole speakers will probably not be pointing towards all of us, because that is of course a feedback nightmare, so the whole speakers are pointing towards the whole, can I hear enough from the speakers to hear what the other instruments are doing, can I hear enough of the other instruments. I generally hate monitors, because, in the first place, they never quite do the job they’re supposed to do, and in the second place, they always do something else, which is cloud the audio-picture for the audience. So if I need to hear an Instrument from over there and the instrument is coming out of a speaker here, loud enough for me to hear it when I am playing this instrument than the audio picture of that instrument for the audience is going to be blurred. Because the sound is going to seem to come from a bunch of different places. – Nonetheless, sometimes, it’s just essential, there is no way to hear the other players and sometimes I think with our native instruments we get to understand as well the – even if we’re not thinking about it – the little signals that a colleague gives when they’re about to play. It’s, you can generally see if a cellist is about to start playing their instrument, that little movement their bone makes to get ready to contact the strings for example. And you can’t really tell when I’m about to [plucks a note] pluck a note. You’re not going to see anything. So, and we did actually also need to [plays] develop a signaling, so that, you know, if I’m going to give a cue with my head, than first of all I need to know that that cue is going to come out at the same time as I play the note [plays] – that needs to work. Still it was – when? – 2000 and… I can’t remember what year we actually played the pieces but uuh / [interviewer] I think it was 13 / 2013, so over six years ago now [yeah], and we had the instruments for about a year before that. Roughly.

13:57:   So it’s interesting to note of course. There are some things, that as an adult you’re never going to learn. You know, if I were to start playing the piano now, in twenty years time I would not be at the same level as someone who started the piano at five. The level I would have reached by twenty-five, there’s no comparison. There is some things you actually need to learn when you’re learning everything else in your life.

14:20:   [Question] And, uhm, how does the notation system work for you, do you have control over the sound result or do you need it extra, because Partch has a very specific notation system..?

14:37:   The Partch notation system in a lot of Delusion of the Fury I have simplified for myself. He would write the numbers of the strings on the left hand side for example, which made a lot of sense to him, because he had built the instruments from scratch, and he himself knew what, the string numbering was a lot clearer, a lot more internalized for him than it is for me. So for example there are some pieces, particularly the misunderstanding from Delusion of the Fury, where I’ve re-written, what he has written on the left hand side of the instrument, so that I use roman numbers of the groups of strings rather than one to eleven and such, or, sorry, one to eight, nine to sixteen, seventeen to twenty-two, twenty-three to twenty-eight, twenty-nine to thirty-six, thirty-seven to fourty-four. Seeing those things, and I’ve talked about automatism before, there’s more of a time-lag for me seeing those numbers if I have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 than I can just jump to the right zone on the instrument without having to think as clearly about – 23-28, oh, is that three or four… So I did rewrite that particular passage, for Misunderstanding this is, so that it was clearer for me. (15:46) Uhm, I think that’s the only Partch piece where I’ve done actually rewrote what was there, where I’ve actually decided to use a different form of notation, that spoke more directly to me. Sometimes I’ve done some things to let me get around the instrument a little bit more easily – he has in Delusion of the Fury a passage [plays] where you have to move the rod down here and then jump very quickly to a string [plays that string] and then play this little coto [?] effect, so you need to mark up the instrument, so that you can jump to those things instantly. So there are various little bits of gaffer-tape, colored gaffer-tape on the instrument, from where various colleagues, someone needed string nineteen on this side – it was not me – but there’s a little yellow gaffer-tape there.

16:57:   [Question] And about the new commission-composition, did it change actually the way the instrument is used or the notation that is used or did he find anything that is more functional […]

17:10:   I’m thinking now, in terms of notation, the new commissions composers haven’t used these instruments so much. Helge Sten uses it in just a couple of movements – a lot of composers have left it out completely. I don’t know why. It does some things that none of the other instruments do. Uhm. Helge Sten for example has these strings, so [plays some strings], has these strings be played at the same time with a cross [plays], which is an effect that I don’t think Parch uses, maybe he uses it in some pieces I don’t know yet. There is an interesting thing there of course, in that, this bridge is fairly movable, it’s just how it is, it isn’t fixed, so when the instrument is being moved, then of course this has to be readjusted, and I readjust it and I tune the notes that Partch uses [plays], but, the notes that it sounds on the other side of the strings [plays], that’s going to be more or less random, depending on where the bridge has ended up. I’ve never actually formalized for myself, exactly where that bridge goes. As far as I’m concerned it just needs to go where I can play [plays] the music that Harry Partch wrote for it. (18:46) So the Helge Sten piece will often sound a little bit different, [plays], depending on where this bridge has ended up after it has been transported to the venue. So that’s one thing that happens with one of the new pieces. Partch also used these resources, and sometimes for us to replicate them, we don’t really know exactly – or you can’t tell from notation or from this instrument what is supposed to happen when you pluck [plucks] here, that happens in Delusion of the Fury, and that’s a thing which on Partches instrument was probably different. And that would be a thing. I have played the Partch original instrument, but it wasn’t in a condition where it was possible to tune all of it. All the instruments are rather rickety by now. (19:34) So the things that you would call extended techniques, they function quite differently on Partches instruments from on ours. Ours were genuinely built to do the things that are clearly required in the repertoire but every now and then you will come up against a little corner, where he has just instead of plucking the strings in the normal places [plays] gone somewhere else. And then it’s rare that we will have exactly the same result as Partch had.

20:08:   [Question] Does it bow function?

20:11:   I’ve never tried it. Noone has asked for it on this particular instrument. Do you have yours handy? [“yeah, I do”] [gets bow] Uuuh, it’s got a bag. Yeah… We already have a little situation with the… [plays] The separation of the strings is a little bit different from that of a guitar. The strings are further apart so you need to hold the thing quite carefully. Can’t quite tell if I’m going to get – there we go. [plays strings with bow]. So one the dronestrings it seems to work quite well. It’d be very interesting if it works on this string – this string has [plays] the glissando attached [plays] (22:25). There we go – think we’ve just discovered something there. Thank You for that! [plays] Ok it works – you can’t just leave it on the strings, you need to hold it carefully, the separation of the strings is different from a guitar, so resting it on the strings is not so successful. It seems to respond a little bit more slowly on the lower wound strings but it seemed to [plays] kick in quite quickly in the unwound strings. [plays] Yes. Unfortunately… Maybe if you’re very careful, maybe if I’m very careful, maybe if whoever does it is very careful… [plays] Yes, I wouldn’t want have to rely on being able to leave it on the strings, unfortunately, that would be a nice thing, but the separation of the strings is not such that actually… I think that’s why these grooves are here, yeah, so that you can settle on the strings, but that requires a different separation from what the instruments actually have. (23:58) [plays] […] I can cheat of course [plays, cheatingly] come on… [plays and raises pitch smoothly] That’s nice when you get the – I don’t know if you can hear it on there – you get the effect that Partch sometimes uses of the ghost-glissando on the other side of the rod as well. [plays] if you like… no?! mh. Maybe longer will work there. [plays, gradually raises pitch]. Very nice, thank you for that!

26:22:   [Question] Could you try to do kind of a […] preparation to have like specific harmonics who would be fairly easy

26:35:   The old blue-tack on the strings trick? /[interviewer] Yes because it be removed and I have […] / Yeah, yeah [plucks strings] now I have never done this before, where would you normally put it / let’s say… / How much? / Not so much it has to be like / The amount you would normally put on whatever instrument you would put that on / Ok I don’t know for example the seventh let’s see where it is like or something that will work for you well. Here it doesn’t make any sense because you can move it with uhm, but for example I don’t know, here?, wait, not sure I put it in the right position… [sound of dampened strings] maybe it’s not too much or /Maybe, yeah, don’t press it down yet, just move it around a bit [plucking strings] – kind of falling / ok, I have to just… / I wonder if it might be, the normal plucking spot was here, maybe putting it on the other side, could be more productive? But maybe, why don’t you find it with your finger, before you put the bluetech on, or whatever that is? Don’t you want to find it with you finger before you… [plucks strings]. Well we try it with a low string. (29:00) / It’s not ideally positioned. […] / Seems possible then. That’s a preparation that would take quite a while to put on but not much time to take off, from a practical point of view. […] / I have also something like this. Had it of course for piano strings, but maybe it is possible to adjust it on, I don’t know. / Help yourself. / So let’s see. […] ok, yes, but if it’s cut correctly, it can… [plucking] / Theoretically possible! Yes. (30:18) The strings aren’t as long as pianostrings, so the piano is better at that.

30:24:   [Question] Can I ask you if you took part actively or how do you experience the whole project of rhythm […]

30:37:   Actively in rebuilding? We’ve all given a little bit of feedback as to things that don’t work quite so well on the instrument and those things get addressed as time goes by. The bridge setup on the right hand side of the instrument, that was I think affected somewhat by the necessity which was discovered a little bit like for these strings to cross on this side. So that effects for example how high the bridge can be in the middle. And if the bridge can’t be very high, which it can’t, then the strings are not, then it’s not going to do… Well the higher the bridge than the better it can do its job. But unfortunately, for the strings to cross in the right place, the bridge needs to be rather low. So the strings on this side [plays] are sometimes a little bit buzzy. The bridges in general – the last instrument that Thomas build of this collection was the thing that Helen calls the cromelodic cannon, so the one where all the strings are tuned independently. And there he has – by that time he was able to carve a different bridge design which is acoustically better. So the strings there, the sound of that instrument is a lot fuller. On the other hand, this instrument, the sound is already a lot fuller than Partches original was. Partches original was quite twangy compared to this one. [plays full sound] (32:07) If you hear the beginning of Delusion of Fury in Partches recording, the sound is a lot more slender. And as I said yesterday, I’m sure at some point there is going to be authentic instruments, a Partch revival where people actually go back to how his instruments sounded opposed to how people have improved them in rebuilding them. But yes, we’ve all had that kind of feedback as to various things that could be optimized in the instruments because Thomas worked, as I think you saw yesterday, with the dimensions of the original instruments and with some experience of them, but he didn’t obviously play all the music Partch wrote for them. And in all of the parts that Partch wrote for the instruments, there were some little corners, where you’d discover that blueprints or the measurements don’t give all the information. There’s the musical information of the pieces. There’s that little musicological element, that, in theory Thomas could have done that, but it would have taken many years to familiarize himself with all the parts, that Partch wrote.

33:23:   [Question] Do you want to move downstairs?

33:23:   I hope we do have time, yes sure! What is the time now? / It’s after ten thirty, to be honest. / OK / But like, if you made some videos maybe I can use parts of them? / Yes, I did make some videos when I was first playing one of the pieces. So it could be useful. Noone’s come out of that room yet, so that might be a positive sign. But yes, in theory, I am supposed to work with Mery Bellamy [?] next, so the question is whether she needs me for all that time…

: So. (he tunes the instrument) (he plays)

01’58:   [Twing]? Hello! / Hey, I would like you to present a little bit the instruments if it’s okay, and then tell me because you’re quite big, I mean you can […] to everything on that instrument probably it’s like a little bit to big / oh see… I don’t know, I don’t think you need to be big, you need to know where things are and then jump. Because for me as well I think [you will notice] there are a few moments where, for example I have a little action on here, where is that one I was thinking of? So you need to choreograph it, so if you have a note to plug on this string and you do it with your left hand, and then you need to plug another string with your right hand, then you probably got the choreography wrong. So, I should, the thing I should say first is that I’m actually deputizing for Christine for this, because she, for family reasons, had to go to the States, so… I, this is Christine the main player of this instrument and I’ve take a couple of cuts in Delusions of the Fury but I have played this piece in [patrols] as well. This instrument rather in [patrols?] as well. The only problem it was a long time ago and that was also deputizing for Christine and a [… before she played] so the things aren’t in our fingers but I did make some videos of myself playing it just for fun, because I noticed that if I put my Iphone in here, then it get a really nice angle with my hands jumping all over the instrument, so that was at the time when I did actually program the things into my fingers. But if you don’t keep these things into your fingers they don’t stay and it would be a bit quicker to learn it now then when I learned it for the first time but, but not by that much. So I need a good couple of days work to present the instrument really realistically, so I just give you that disclaim before I do anything else. And now I need to ask you what you second question was. If you had one.

04’01:   (Eleni) the question was how the stage […] worked for […] when you used to play it, what extra things you used for the new commissioned compositions, […] how flexible is that instrument, can you see the conductor like in this position or anyone else play, I mean you’re higher but you’re pretty much more…

04’24:   okay, the, the, the instrument, I haven’t play this one with a conductor but the instrument is surprisely transparent. So, as long as, as long as I’m looking in the direction of the conductor I can usually see the conductor, because the, because I’m looking through the instrument. That fact on the other hand makes it a little bit difficult to jump to the different strings, because the strings don’t themselves present much of a visual element, so depending on what is on the other side of the instrument… So what is on the other side of the instrument can be a big, can have a big influence on how practical the part […] I’m going to play. So you, if there is more or less light in front of me can make a bit difficult be to see the strings. Of course I forgot what exactly all your questions were, you might have to repeat.

05’19:   (Eleni) What […] do you use for, or did you had to

05’29:   Yeah, I get to, first of all the tools that Partch used, they’re slightly, he had some clever [finger] designes, which was a little bit some pipes with some plectrum attached to it. So for example with a finger you can play this (he plays) […]. For these pieces, because they’re amplified and because for various reasons that pipe technique didn’t work so well for me, I have some guitar picks… So there’s a left handed and a right handed one… I just saw – we were doing a Zappa project, and I saw that their guitars were using these things and I thought this is what I need for the Kithara. So Partch needs some things with pics and some things with fingers and I found that this was a good way for me to have a possibility to combine both those two things. It works ok for these pieces, it might not work for the entire Partch repertoire. For the newer pieces – oh, um – the instrument, how it works, of course we have four… he calls them hexates [?] [strikes a tone]. Four of them have these glass rods between the strings and the instrument. [plays again] That is a part of the instrument technique, which can get quite acrobatic, because often you have a slide on one […] you have on here nine to seven to six, five, ok [plays], and there I need to go here [plays deep tone], then I need to come back here and than it’s five-four, which is not the note I landed on [plays chord] (07’32), and then to here [plays], then on here [plays] then on here [plays] then [plays]. So the movements of the hands, and eventually it won’t happen, some of the time, does it happen in this piece? Yes, sometimes you do find yourself jumping from a note here [plays high pitch] to a glass rod action here [plays] and then [plays] back into a middle interval […] so you do have to learn this technique where you never quite straighten your knees. [plays] And, hopefully if the breaks of course are on […], because when the breaks are off, and you’re doing these things, you end up swearing a lot.

08’30:   For newer pieces, a lot of composers have used… I haven’t played the […] in the newer commissions, because Christie is the main player for this, she ends up doing that. I know that one thing, Helge Sten liked to do was to do glissandos across the base strings. [plays that] He then had Christie go round the other side of the instrument, which is a little bit to acrobatic here at the moment [plays]. Of course he […] there’s a platform there and she walks around. Yeah, so Partches thing was to do glissandos along the hexates [?] [plays], but Helge Sten would do this one [plays]. […] These are our percussion-bows, so they’re all in various states of… [plays with bow]. You have to kind of judge on a case by case basis, where you can actually get to the strings. (10’00) [plays] So that.

10’16:   Trying to think of other things, that have happened in these pieces, because of course, I wasn’t playing them myself. / (Question) […] try the […]? / We could try it certainly! / Like, uhm, try to do a hexat with the […] maybe it will […] sound effect, I don’t know. / Yeah. High, Low? D’you care? /no / You see the problem is the problem of holding it… You’re better at this, come, you can do it. /ok / […] [plays with bow] […] / and there, you see, if you are to do that, than you have to move the […] away from the strings a little bit, because the string rises as the rod comes down. (12’00) I think what you will need to do is… prepare the bow with […] so that you fix some things to here so they can rest… you see, to fix some supports on here / […] / Oh she’s clever! [plays] […] / Maybe from the other side […] / I think the thing to do would be, I’d suggest to take something […] so you can rest it on the […], because if it’s just floating in mid air… [plays] (14’00) That would be the experiment to try for you, to get […] / Or I need a second person / Ah but even when a second person is doing it, you’re still holding it in mid-air / […] / yeah exactly, so if you do that, you can… […] [plays] […] never touched it.

16’00:   (Question) Ok. Last two minutes, can you tell me something about the notation of the Kathara and because here, we have a lot of strings, the notation is practically ideal for the performer, because it shows the movements very fast / I think so yeah / But do you all […]

16’20:   What is not, what is difficult, is sometimes to see, where these rods are supposed to be. In fact some of it is even ambiguous, can’t quite tell whether for this three-two, really with this notation it should be unambiguous, but sometimes he doesn’t manage to make it completely unambiguous. As in sometimes he forgets this little box with the octave. That’s one tricky thing. But I don’t know a better way to write this than what Partch did. So sometimes you are jumping to a rod and don’t know where it’s supposed to be. I often have to write in for example just the instructions to myself, that my left hand is supposed to stay on the green rod and move […] while my right hand is […] here. But as far as the notation itself goes, no I can’t imagine a better one and I’ve never rewritten one of his Kithara parts.

17’19:   (Question) But do you like to have the sound result or is it, you trust the original tuning? Do you want to control every single piece that is there? […] Or do you think it’s more information in the end it doesn’t help.

17’50:   It’s probably not, it’s nice to know, but in performance sometimes it’s just that little bit too much information. But it is nice to know what it is, it is nice to be able to check the right sound is coming out. Just partly to be sure that there are no mistakes in the note, of course, because sometimes if Partch had… I think we have had some doubt sometimes as to whether Partch has written the right note. And we don’t know what, you can’t see from the notation, what pitch is going to come out. So there is that extra little control that you might have. On the other hand, if that information were there all the time, than the pageturns would be even more of a nightmare, than they already are. Fortunately, with the […]pieces, for example, everything can fit on two pages, so you don’t need to turn during the actual pieces, but a piece longer than that, with that much activity, you would need to work out what your hands are doing, or have an iPad up there or I don’t know.

18’47:   Can we go? Enjoy […] I’ll send you those videos. Because they might be more useful than anything I just said.