WTF?! Wednesdays: Alvin Lucier, “Nothing Is Real” (1990)

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Composer Alvin Lucier‘s fascination with acoustics and resonance is well-documented. His most famous piece, I Am Sitting In A Room, explored the resonant frequency of a room by recording spoken words, playing them back, and then recording them again, continuing in a sort of infinite regress until the jagged rhythms of speech had been polished smooth.

In a somewhat less famous composition — employing very famous source material — “Nothing Is Real” takes the melody from The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever, has it played sparsely on piano, recorded, and then replayed through a small speaker installed inside of a tea pot. The results are pretty remarkable, especially if you’re patient and are not appalled by such treatments of music from the hallowed Beatles.

In the video embedded below, the playback and effects take a while to develop. It’s worth the wait. Maybe it’s just me, but I kind of enjoy the idea of the Strawberry Fields melody line being altered by the position of a tea pot and its lid.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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