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daniel barbiero – not one nor

not one nor‘ is an experimental recording based on certain rules and gestures for double bass by DC based composer daniel barbiero. the results are long-form, glacially paced and hyper focused on the experience of the instrument.

i feel like i should copy the explanation from the bandcamp page (‘liner notes’ still matter!):

not one nor‘ presents two works made of discrete events foregrounding the materiality of a large string instrument in its role as a resonating chamber. both pieces are constructed out of a limited number of gestures and/or pitches and points on the instrument’s geography with the intention of producing an immersion in sound as material, interspersed with contrasting pauses. ‘not one nor‘ for prepared double bass calls for shifting variations in timbre through the use of three gestures corresponding to three different regions of the instrument. ‘eighteen events for double bass‘ alternates eighteen prescribed sound actions with an equal number of non-actions to create an image of the flux of aural perception.

i’m guessing the title refers to the three gestures used to create the recording. i always enjoy when i get contributions from the fringes of classical music. as the explanation suggests, a close listening to this piece re-creates the physical presence of the lone instrument. ~ The Modern Folk Music of America

Listening to Daniel Barbiero’s Not One Nor (Zeromoon) is not a passive act, though one could be fooled by Barbiero’s use of pauses. But it is these silences which has the listener re-imagine Barbiero’s sounds against the listener’s ambient and obtrusive sounds. The prepared double bass is limited in hand gestures as well as tones and sounds which gives focus on Barbiero’s real intent: the instrument as a source of resonance. Not One Nor works as a contemplative work that guides the listener between silence and sound. ~ acts of silence

Mentre violino e violoncello sono strumenti ormai largamente impiegati nella creazione di musica sperimentale realizzata processandone i suoni, meno abituale è vedere il contrabbasso al centro di solitarie elaborazioni, più o meno improvvisate. Desta dunque naturale curiosità la proposta del musicista del Maryland Daniel Barbiero, che in “Not One Nor” propone due lunghe pièce (undici minuti la prima, oltre venti la seconda) realizzate esclusivamente sul contrabbasso, in versione acustica o in quella trasformata in “prepared double bass”.

Il risultato mostra la sorprendente versatilità dello strumento, piegato dall’artista americano a una lunga serie di variazioni, che spaziano da austeri frammenti melodici a dissonanze e passaggi atonali. Barbiero utilizza diverse tecniche nella più lunga title track, realizzata concentrandosi in sequenza su singole “regioni” dello strumento, e in “Eighteen Events For Double Bass”, ove non fa altro che rappresentare quanto espresso dal titolo attraverso prolungate sospensioni temporali, inframezzate ad altrettanti movimenti “classici”.

Opera ostica all’ascolto, ma dal sicuro interesse concettuale e realizzativo, “Not One Nor” è disponibile in download gratuito attraverso la netlabel Zeromoon. ~ Raffaello Russo, Music Won’t Save You

Not one Nor by Daniel Barbiero could be described as the most classical among the three, but once again generalization is enemy of the truth. Released on zeroMOON this work incontrovertibly shows the chance of creating rich musical landscapes through the provident use of few elements. The solid heritage of the author about musical methods as counterpoint, atonality and modal composition, allows him to achieve a challenging output. … Silence has clearly a palpable role for the musician and for the listener as well. The wait for the next event -as we learn from the parenthetically titled second chapter of this work – is an active ingredient in the building of the texture. Both on the acoustic instrument and on its prepared version, Barbiero has a thick, full-bodied tone. Something that reminds me of great hardanger fiddle players as Nils Økland. The slow and extended passages of the bow on the strings and a wise and growing use of the reverberation generate some striking sonic paths (some music has dimensionality – imagine to walk in the back of someone opening a trail for you in the bushes). What I admire the most in the two compositions is the talent to metamorphosize the nature of the double bass. You find here dings and scrapes as cymbals could emit, brushes and shuffles as generated by drums. Well, again this is true for many extended techniques solo releases, but this is not a mere exercise in style. ~ The Free Jazz Collective

If I wasn’t made aware of the fact that the double bass is the instrument at the point of focus here, would I have been able to guess? The friction of taut coarse hair against string is an unmistakable sound – drones and slithering overtones wrestling over the rasp of contact – but the actual music that results is far from what many would expect to hear from a double bass, both in terms of instrument timbre and the musical characteristics of a piece “written for double bass”. The key phrase of the album’s accompanying literature is that it explores the “instrument in its role as a resonating chamber” – one does not hear each tone as the rich, unified emission of string instrument vibration, but acknowledges the presence of two separate entities: the initial, more immediate scrape of bow on string, following by the ghostly circulation of tone around the double bass’ hollow interior. Barbiero ensures that each sound is inflected with a wealth of croaky, buzzing detail, at once an agonising frictional drag and a dazzling kaleidoscope of constant tonal transformation. Grand pauses of quiet (never silence) sit between each stroke, during which I can imagine Barbiero examining his instrument with the fierce concentration of an open-heart surgeon, carefully determining his next point of contact. There’s a certain sense of relief that accompanies those first couple of bows on the other piece here, “Eighteen Events For Double Bass”, as Barbiero finally produces the rich, clean note that “Not One Nor” holds excruciatingly at arms’ reach. The piece comprises of 18 actions alternated with 18 “non-actions”, producing a similar (albeit slightly more aggressive and energetic) interchange between contacting his instrument and leaving it alone. There’s a strong meditative force at the centre of Barbiero’s music – action followed by blissful pockets of contemplation, during which both listener and composer are able to fully absorb the sound they have just experienced without the immediate distraction of the next. Beautiful and somewhat cleansing. ~ ATTN: Magazine

Two compositions for solo acoustic bass (Barbiero), each a healthy combination of restraint and extended techniques. “Not One Nor” provides the merest set of instructions, asking the performer to utilize two sound areas, “Bowing just above the bridge” and “Bowing the tailpiece”. Other aspects such as order, number, duration, dynamics, preparations and amount of space is up to the instrumentalist, though re: the latter, leaving “ample space” is encouraged. The result is along the lines of what one might well anticipate but the strength of this recording comes through via Barbiero’s sensitivity and choice of sounds. It’s interesting in that, generally speaking, we’ve heard this palette before–what sounds haven’t been generated by bowed strings at this point?–so it becomes a matter of relationships and placement, this texture against that, and Barbiero maintains one’s attention throughout while quietly tickling the ear. A fine piece.

“Eighteen Events for Double Bass” sets that number of scripted activities against an equal number of “non-actions”. Not sure what these are, exactly, possibly of a visual nature. Dealing with what’s presented, we do hear a series of discreet events, some of which are a bit more “traditional” sounding than the prior work, with rich, dark arco, others far drier, with scratchy harmonics, and a wonderful almost whistling passage. It’s consistent in approach with “Not One Nor” but also carves out a different structural area and is just as satisfying. Listeners into the Wandelweiser aesthetic will find much to enjoy here andI’m looking forward to more from Barbiero. ~ Just Outside