Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK
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MORE DARK THAN SHARK - FEATURE
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno

DECAY AND DELAY

First published in 1905, Clare Market Review is the official journal of the London School of Economics' Student Union. The Summer 1968 issue featured Decay And Delay by Brian Eno. This is the original article followed by a transcript -

Decay And Delay

This score has been performed as a lecture at Winchester School of Art, as a participation piece at the same place, and with a grand piano at Reading University, all with the creative advice and assistance of David Lister.

More extensive copies of the score can be obtained from Arbigland, Littleton, Winchester, Hants, for 5s.

• • •

A, B and C are three four-track tape-recorders, the dotted line passing between them is a continuous loop of tape. A and B are recording on different tracks of the tape, and C is playing back tracks of the tape simultaneously.

A noise made at a given time will record on both tracks of the tape, and will be played back at C after a delay, this delay dependent on the distance between the separate machines, and on the rotation speed of the tape. When the noise is played back at C, it is re-recorded on both A and B, but this time it will be recorded in a decayed state due to such factors as the imperfect ability of tape recorders, the acoustics and natural echo of the room, the influx of incidental noises obscuring the original.

After a delay, the noise plays back in its decayed state, and is again re-recorded, once more incurring delay. The piece can last for any length of time.

Example: suppose that the distance AB is 10 and the distance BC is 15. A noise is made at a time x and recorded on A and B. The recording on B plays back at x+15, and is re-recorded on A and B. The initial recording at A plays back at x+25 (i.e. 10+15) and this is followed by the re-recording at B which plays back at x+30. And so on.

Some alternatives and developments: input, and consequently output, may be modified by altering the volume and tone controls on the recording machines.

Speed of tape affects accuracy of recording.

Action by performers may vary from simply switching the apparatus on and allowing the incidental noises of the environment to become the substance of the piece, to an accurate and measured use of the equipment as an instrument on its own or in conjunction with others.

The apparatus may be wired to any number of contact microphones, which in turn would be wired to, for example, the chairs on which the audience are seated, or to all the moving parts of the building in which the piece is being performed - taps, doors, windows, floors, lavatory attachments.

The apparatus might be used as a semi-determinate or indeterminate signals mechanism in conjunction with another piece requiring signals or cues. Other pieces of music might be fed through the system (re. La Monte Young's "play any piece as well as you can"). The apparatus might enclose an entity - e.g. orchestra, piano, audience, the centre of London, another similar apparatus, etc.; in all these cases the size of the enclosed entity would determine the delay.

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