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Updated: January 24, 2013 21:41 IST

Sounds good

HARSHINI VAKKALANKA
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Beat poet Joseph says instead of dancers keeping time with music, it should be the other way around Photo: BHagya Prakash k.
Beat poet Joseph says instead of dancers keeping time with music, it should be the other way around Photo: BHagya Prakash k.

U.K.-based musician Joseph Hyde tells Harshini Vakkalanka he likes experimenting with the relationship between sound and visuals

Joseph Hyde, who is one of the mentors in Attakalari’s Facets choreography residency, says he is fascinated by electronic music because it allows for the use of a variety of sounds.

“The sounds need not be musical, with a violin or a piano but could be everyday sounds of birds, insects or even a pan in the kitchen. This really broadens your palette,” says the U.K. based musician, who studied classical music.

“I have two different backgrounds in music. I grew up in Manchester in the 80s and I was involved in the indie rock scene there, with bands such as The Smiths. But I also played the piano. I think I still have both sides to me.”

But it took him a while to figure out how to make money as an experimental musician, so he took to working with different mediums — films, videos, dance and interactive technology.

“I work with dance a lot because I think it is a good balance to electronic music, which is disembodied, meaning that it does not involve musicians playing an instrument. It’s good to have the physical body of the dancer. This is what led me on to other things, to think about how we can connect them more closely. Then I was interested in the interactive elements where the dancers can actually control the music.”

“If you have pre-recorded electronic music, the dancer has to keep in time with the music but I think it should be the other way around, the music should follow the dance.” This led him on to the idea of teleprasence, where dancers from different countries could dance at the same time, using interactive digital technology. “It feels like a crazy, exciting science fiction idea.”

Joseph’s current project “Danceroom Spectroscopy” has more direct links with science.

“This is a project I’m doing with a scientist who studies the way matter interacts with energy. He wanted to work on a project where you can see the way atoms work and hear the way they sound. I’m making the sound.” If this project, like most electronic music, sounds too unusual or abstract, its because of their lack of obvious musicality, and Joseph agrees.

“I think there are two different things going on here. Any new kind of music is always unfamiliar since people grow up with a certain kind of music. Also music is like language, if you understand one language, and suddenly you hear a different language, it doesn’t mean anything. This always happens with new kinds of music.”

Joseph also likes experimenting with the relationship between sound and visuals, he makes short films that are all about music. “The pieces of music have a visual element with no story or dialogue, the music spills on the screen and you can see it. It’s called visual music because you can see the music.” This is what he does and enjoys in his explorations as an individual musician, when he’s not collaborating on his other film or dance projects. “Recently I have been very influenced by early cinema from the 20s and the 30s. What I find interesting is that there were no rules, nobody knew how cinema worked and nobody knew how film music worked. Some of these films sounded very unusual.”

One man who has influenced him in particular is the filmmaker Oskar Fischinger, who he believes invented visual music.

“I’m now keen to bring my classical background and start using instruments with electronic sounds and I have started to do that,” he says referring to a piece that he worked on with Rambert Dance, an English company, where he incorporated an orchestra.

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