Songs for Lines/Songs for Waves
Laurie Anderson, 1977, 38'56''

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This performance consists of ten songs in which music, language and images are equally important. In most of these songs, Anderson plays the violin, accompanied by her own singing and an audiotape (with spoken text, more singing or more violin music). Her songs are often combined with a film projection: she is framed by the light from the projection, and is playing with the shadows cast by her body and her violin. Anderson makes experimental music, and she often find solutions in technological inventions, as with the song 'a man, a woman, a house and a tree'. The music for this piece is created with the help of a ‘slow-scan’ machine, which registers visual information and transforms this into sound. These experiments are not only about music, but also abou language: anagrams, play on words and poetic stories. The introductory anecdotes that Anderson tells are just as important as the song itself. Anderson also uses the 'tape bow violin', developed by Bob Bielecki and herself. This violin is modified in such a way that the traditional horsehair strings of the bow have been replaced by a piece of audiotape, on which spoken texts and other sounds have been recorded. For the performance at De Appel, Anderson incorporated fragments of Dutch proverbs and sayings in her ‘tape bow’, as well as Lenin’s famous statement 'Ethics is the aesthetics of the future', which she plays in such a way that it sounds as follows: 'Ethics is the aesthetics of the few'. The movements of the bow visualize language in time. The linearity of the language literally reappears in the linearity of the bow. 'For me the violin is the perfect alter ego. It's the instrument closest to the human voice [...] I've spent a lot of time trying to teach it to talk. [...] Because the bow is drawn both ways, I got interested in backward sounds. [...] So I made a lot of songs that could be played both ways.' Read more...

  • Date: 1977
  • Length: 38'56''
  • Type: Video
  • Copyrights: All rights reserved (c) LIMA
  • Genre: music (artwork genre), performance (artwork genre)
  • Keywords: urban life, art, communication, music (subject), interaction sound/image, language, registration (technique)