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15 Questions to Jeffrey Roden

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I am in los angeles, california, usa. Doing very well.

The is right ahead. What can you tell us about your performance?
My work centers around pieces composed for the solo electric bass. the music has both composed and improvised elements. the performance is done at a relatively low volume to allow the richness and beauty of the bass tone to be expressed. the only instrument played will be a 1961 fender precision electric bass through a small amplifier without any processing.

On a more general level: What constitutes a good live show in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
A good live show is one in which the artist provides the audience with an experience that brings to that audience a heightened sense of awareness and an intensifying of their own thoughts or feelings. The experience can be spiritual, sensual, rational; any thing that takes the audience somewhere. It can be done artificially through theatrical devices or a manipulation of the senses, or in the way that I prefer; that the artists deliver themselves and their work in the truest way that they are able to and thereby engage the audience through that delivery. In my performance I hope to convey to the audience my passion for the bass and its many possibilities by being immersed and involved in what I am playing and including the audience in that process.

Which of the concerts of the other artists will you definitely attend?
I am going to try and catch all the nights of the festival. There are very few opportunities in los angeles to see such a variety of experimental music artists in such a short period of time. Definitely steve roden, bruce friedman / scott fraser duo, and SLaB. It is an unbelievably diverse selection of artists.

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?

The question of influences is a list without possible end. As a musician certainly paul chambers, jimmy garrison, jack bruce, willie dixon, charlie mingus, gary peacock, eddie gomez, jerry jemmott. There were so many great bass players in every genre of music when I was learning to play the bass.  other musicians and composers for a specific attribute or inspiration would include john coltrane, el shankar, miles davis, ravi shankar, feldman, webern, beethoven, takemitsu. It is truly endless. The great thing is that there is some facet of every music that when played well provides an inspiration or useful influence. I had great teachers in ray siegel, joe valenti, john goines, carmen montez as well.

What’s your view on the experimental music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
Not really being a member of the scene I cannot say much other than it seems to be a little bit codified and insulated. I suppose the question is should anything experimental really be so clique like. This could generate a crisis. also, it does seem like there are very few places to perform and interest an audience.

Multimedia: A solution to all problems or a curse?

I am a little confused as to what the problems are and what would make a creative decision or element a curse. If multimedia is used to disguise shallow or poorly conceived or executed work it could be a problem. The process itself has no solutions or curses attached to it. It must be strictly in the usages. Talented artists will use it to great effect and those with less talent will use it as a mantle.

Some feel there is no need to record albums any more, that there is no such thing as genuinely “new” music. What do you tell them?

I would respond by making the analogy that perhaps there should be no new human beings as their life has already been lived. Music is the individual outpouring of the artist, the individual expression of one’s thoughts, nature, beliefs or lack of. even on a mathematic level, the possible combinations of notes and rhythms are infinite. have artists become so reluctant to struggle to pursue some new music that the surrender of the worth of their individual creation / contribution becomes plausible or attractive. This would clearly place them in the contemporary  world of popular culture  that relentlessly recycles old music and movies.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
The defining line between sound and music is becoming blurred in my own hearing and consequently my own composing. this is a result of my fairly recent exposure to sound art. I am now more inclined to let notes develop their own harmonic consonance or dissonance which is as much an element of sound as it is of music. Sound, of course, must also include silence and i feel that silence is a very underutilized element in composing. I recently attended several concerts of  20th century string quartet music that were very beautiful and yet i kept thinking “where is the breath here and wouldn't it be great if they just stopped for a second”.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.

True or false: “Music is my first love”

True or false: People need to be educated about music, before they can really appreciate it.

Neither. People do not need to be educated about music, before they can really appreciate it but education allows them the chance to participate perhaps more fully.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival yourself. What would be on your program for this season?
My program  would be to call glen bach and steve roden and ask for help.

What’s your favourite CD at the moment?

John coltrane’s “a love supreme” live

What’s up for you after the festival?

I am releasing my fourth solo cd “seeds of happiness, part one”. iIam looking forward to touring and performance.

Mary Anne's Dream (The Big Tree) 1994
Songs for Susan (The Big Tree) 1995
The Floor of the Forest (The Big Tree) 1998

Jeffrey Roden

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