Preview: Rhythm of Strings (Aldeburgh)

We interviewed Seb Rochford and ‘cellist Oliver Coates (above) by email about their collaboration in “Rhythm of Strings” and their performance this Saturday March 5th in the Britten Studio at Snape Maltings in Suffolk.Photo credit: Bruce Atherton/Jana Chiellino)

LondonJazz. Seb, what are the things you are looking forward to above all on this project?

SEB ROCHFORD. Seeing and playing with John, Leo, Ollie and Max and having five days to rehearse and investigate the music we are going to play together, then playing it for people.

I think with the viola and cello, and what John and Leo Abrahams’ Electronics bring, hopefully there are many possibilities. I decided not to have bass, but was more for opening up the harmony in a different way, rather than limiting the music.

LJ. You’ve worked with Leo Abrahams before, right?

SR. I’ve played quite alot with Leo, mainly making albums that he was producing or playing guitar on, we also played a free impro gig that was really fun. I love playing with him, his creativity and spirit always amaze me.

LJ. Does the fact that stringed instruments aren’t restricted to the notes of the scale appeal to you? All those tones in between…..

SR. Yes, I love the notes in between, so far I haven’t written anything that uses those notes but maybe…I love slides between notes.

LJ. And what will the listener get?

SR. I’m writing stuff that will hopefully be melodious with lots of openess too, and some stuff to feel like clouds clearing…

LondonJazz. Oliver, you appear to do a lot of cross-genre music-making…..

OLIVER COATES: You might say that there’s a kind of ‘pluralism’ in new music. So that might invalidate the idea of ‘cross-genre’, because nobody needs to be crossing anything with anything else. I don’t think I’ve done any cross-genre work, but maybe this is just semantics. I still regularly play works from the canon of classical repertoire, because they are beautiful and stand the test of time, and have a critical dialogue with music which is being made now. When I play new music, people don’t ask to ‘cross’ anything, they just want me to play the cello. So you might say that it’s all part of one spectrum.

LJ. Which of your other non-classical projects is this most similarities with? Massive Attack, Goldie, Ben Frost Sigur Ros….?

OC: I’m not sure – I didn’t actually think of those projects as non-classical. Working with Seb, John, Max and Leo is proving to be very unique and special. Everyone is very altruistic here, we’re sitting in a nice circle in the middle of the big room, and building of a set of music with these guys feels very holistic.

LJ. You’ve done a lot of work with electronics, but I understand that you don’t play on electronic instruments??

OC: I really like playing my cello, the wood feels ancient and the horse-hair running over the strings, it feels like a tone of voice that I’ve been fortunate to have for many years. I play on the same cello I had when was 11. Its maker from 200 years ago is anonymous.

Working with new-ish technologies to realise transformative ideas in terms of sound has been amazing – I’m not interested in technologies for their own sake. That feels like harking back to the 1990’s, when the rate of advancements was a preoccupation with lots of art forms. Now, I’d play on anything if the musical content warranted it.

Thus far, the subtle use of amplification and occasionally processing has created enough interesting things, particularly working with extraordinary sound artists like Sound Intermedia, who use simple means as well as complex Max/MSP Patches but in the most imaginative and beautiful ways.

I’m mostly interested in the natural resonances of rooms and live playing, and new music and how it is best communicated, and the cello itself surprises me every day with its depth of character, you even might say an infinite source of sound and expression.

LJ: What are you particularly looking forward to in this collaboration?

OC: I been to a fair few Polar Bear gigs, watched Seb and John play, and they’ve often been some of the best events I’ve been to. I’m really looking forward to making music with them. I have also been doing a bit of studio work with Leo Abrahams recently, so it’s nice to do a bit more live work with him.

LondonJazz: Thank you both!

Concert details for this Saturday from Concert-Diary

Faster Than Sound is supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation . Bookings

Categories: miscellaneous

2 replies »

  1. That' s a succinct and illuminating statement by Oliver Coates – about the pluralism of new music, which is a sort of new pluralism, too – and it is very good to read a musician outline his points of engagement and describe his hands-on experience with the instrument(s) and the fast-changing medium. The pluralism bit is helpful, because one is forever making qualifying statements about jazz in conversation, trying to explain that it's not what people traditionally think it is, the boundaries are in a permanent state of dissolution, which applies to 'new music' equally, as Coates states. Thanks.

Leave a Reply