May 26, 2019

Brendan Perry: the Tape Op interview

Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance) discusses composing and recording in an interview with Tape Op Magazine. On using drones:

The drones came from a study of Baroque music I did. I read a book by Johann Joseph Fux called Steps to Parnassus [Gradus ad Parnassum]. It taught me counterpoint. It's heavily based on this principle of using pedals, because this music was originally written for organs. They had this music theory that related to the pedal notes. As a bass player previous to this, in punk bands and what have you, I tend to write from the bass as well, if it's not percussion. I really identified with that approach. A lot of Baroque composers wrote from the bass up, which was a revelation to me. Of course, playing these bass pedal notes meant that then the harmonization is the next stage and goes over the top of that. I found that you could be really inventive by just having the one note and then exploring all the possible harmonization you could do above that. That's one part of where that came from. Also listening to troubadour, and early music where they used to use a lot of drones, like hurdy-gurdies and instruments like that. There's something incessant that casts an almost hypnotic, trance-like quality when you have an element that holds its presence continually and draws you back continually to it. We discovered it has a weird, discombobulated, disembodied effect on the listener.


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