The Listened To Sound (2018)
In the 1980’s I discovered the music concrete records of the INA/GRM label in France. I bought them all and Parmegiani was a God to me. I listened carefully and tried to figure out what he was doing to the sounds so I could apply that to my day job as a fledgling TV sound editor. I bought all the records in the INA/GRM catalog, all of them I thought. But oddly I missed, of all things “Presque Rien” by Luc Ferrari. It hid from me is my guess. I noticed this in 2015 believe it or not and bought everything I could find of Luc Ferrari (it’s a lot) and was immediately struck by the similarity of what I was trying to do today and his sound. I was amazed. I studied Ferrari and really thought I would have made a great engineer/assistant to him. And then last year I was one of the winners of “The Luc Ferrari Presque Rien Competition” organized by his widow, Brunhild Ferrari. Weird, right?
[Editor's Note: You can stream John's piece, "Taken sound" at the Presque Rien link].
When I first heard Viscera in the early 1980s, I wrote to Hal and kidding, I asked if they “recorded outside”, or with the windows open? So much ambient sound. Now we all record outside. We hear our lives in our environments in so many ways and use it to communicate, something. We record and manipulate it easily because we can and it always sounds familiar. It’s almost an ecological movement today; to record the sounds of whereever on Earth you are (on your Zoom or Tascam) and let other people somewhere else in the world experience it. I hear Hal’s life on his new CD (“microcassettology”) and on my new CD, “The Listened To Sound”, you hear MY life. Really. Isn’t that what every great composer tries to do? “Hey, listen to what’s in my head, listen to what I hear all the time”.
I am VERY lucky I get to do this. I feel like I’m a documentary filmmaker, filming a subject or event (recording), then editing it together and mixing it – I love the sound, sonic image, cinema for the ears. There has to be something in sound that draws me in all the time. Makes me hit the record button. I’ve spent my life recording things and I know everyone reading this has also, and also listens. Really listens. You all do and our “sound art” is as radical as serialism or any other breakthrough in music. Just keep pushing record and listening.
Welcome John! Been a good while. Nice article & good to see you here!
Thank u for writing this. I really enjoyed the article.
Great stuff. Thanks for sharing, John.
I had never connected recording our lives with composition in quite that way. Thanks! I loved this piece.
Welcome to EC John!!! :)
Welcome John, really glad to see and hear that you are here. I enjoyed reading your intro, well done indeed.
Adam J Naworal
Very interesting and insightful piece! Presque Rien was a mind-opener for me as well! Glad to have you aboard at EC!
I love the photo with the saguaros... do any of >them< make sounds? I mean beyond the hummingbirds, nectar-sucking bats and the Wiggins dude visiting them. Nice article--it certainly expresses my own response to Hal's slices-of-life recordings. They drive my wife insane, but I do find them quite meditational.
Evan, you can listen to John's album and find out if those saguaros make sound - https://www.electroniccottage.org/jack-hz/the-listened-to-sound-by-john-wiggins-now-available-on-acousmatique-recordings
Hi John! That's a great introduction you have written here! Nice to get to know you and welcome
Great post! John Wiggins' music is a treasure.
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is an award winning sound designer for TV and films