Human Instruments

Category: music 66

Connexion ARC host a performance by Sbot N Wo.

By Matt Carter @m_j_c73

sbotConnexion ARC have been hosting an impressive mix of live music over the past few months – everything from familiar rock-driven guitar jams to the softest piano experiments.  And who could forget National Drone Day? That was off the hook.  They’ve managed to create an alternative to what was once considered alternative and Fredericton audiences are slowly starting to understand the importance of variety in their auditory experiences.  If you want variety, if you want to be challenged, if you want “new”, Connexion ARC’s got you covered.

For instance, this Friday (June 5), the centre will host a performance by Sbot N Wo, a duo comprised of vocalist Helen Pridmore and composer WL Altman who create, “striking musical performances through extended vocal technique and live electronic reprocessing of the human voice.”  Now that sounds interesting.

“Our new record SONGS is a reference to the long history of song,” said Altman.  “This is a way for us of communicating that we take this tradition seriously, but we want to do something completely different. One way we do that is with our unconventional instrumentation. All the music, all the sounds, originate from Helen’s voice, singing live in front of the audience and from that we build all kinds of different musical textures, harmonies, rhythms and so on. And we hope people find it quite remarkable how diverse and musically rich the results of that process can be in a live performance of basically improvised music.”

When it comes to music, the members of Sbot N Wo bring together a wealth of knowledge, each a respected and educated professional in their field. Pridmore is a professor of voice at Sackville’s Mount Allison University and Altman is a composer and performer whose works have been performed and commissioned by musicians across North America.

Sbot N Wo’s music could be categorized as new music.  That’s an easy go-to term for labeling music that a listener may otherwise struggle to understand or appreciate on first listen.  I asked Altman if he could share his thoughts on how people experiencing new music for the first time should prepare themselves to make the most of the experience.

“Music makes no sense really,” he said.  “Why is it that we sing something in the first place? Like other art forms, it has no practical purpose. We like to think that when we make music, we are asking a question – a question that it’s up to the listener to answer. So that’s part of what we might suggest as our answer to your question of how to approach and listen to new music. With older music, the audience comes with expectations, and might be disappointed by the performance that doesn’t fulfill those expectations. In our situation, what makes the music new is that the audience doesn’t know what to expect. They should be prepared for surprises, and should be disappointed if they get something rehashed, or unsurprising. It takes a concerted effort to suspend judgement and preconceptions in order to undertake a truly new experience. You could say it takes courage. And it requires imagination from the audience just as much as from the performer.”

Friday’s event will include a short set of “chance organisations of background noise” by Counting on Downstairs.  There will also be an artist talk following Sbot N Wo’s performance.

Seating at Connexion ARC is limited and encouraged.

Sbot N Wo+Counting on Downstairs | Connexion ARC | 732 Charlotte Street | June 5, 2015 | 7:30 p.m. | $8 | View Event

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