externalized traces – In Conversation with Charlie Sdraulig about ‘few’

After visiting Charlie in May, and documenting a realization of few, I asked Charlie if he would be interested in having a free-form conversation with me about the piece and our collaboration. In our conversation we discussed the context from which few emerged, strategies for devising realizations, performative idiosyncrasies, overhearing, the duration of the score and its relation to focus, re-sounding as a possible way of interpreting the work activated by the piece, and an idea of documentation as inviting mishearings.


Michael Baldwin: Let’s start by talking about the context in which few was written.

Charlie Sdraulig: few is the third piece in a series collectively known as breath. The other two pieces in the series were primarily concerned with developing a vocabulary of sounds for winds predicated on a tenuous physical relationship between a performer and their instrument. The idea for this third breath piece had been percolating for a while and I wasn’t entirely sure what form it would take. Actually, the piece started off quite grandiosely as this kind of epic for slide whistle! Continue reading

hearing hearing – Video Release of Charlie Sdraulig’s ‘few’

I’m very happy to be able to share my recent recording of Charlie Sdraulig’s 2013 vocal solo, few. I’ve written about this piece on a couple of occasions, and for some background on my work with it you can read here and here.

Towards the end of April, Charlie asked me if I would be interested in performing few again at a house concert in London. I agreed and had a chance to go to work directly with Charlie on the realization. With my earlier work on the piece, I was concerned with exploding the ambiguities of the piece, especially with respect to how many ways I could simultaneously articulate elements of intimacy, privacy, inner perception, and the general implications of a sound world that derived from, but almost barely contributed to, an aural environment. At the time, I was trying to completely open up the work – to find my interpretation of the work and the way its intentions resonated with not only my own ways of thinking about sound and performance, but the personal knowledge I had accrued through friendship with Charlie about his own relationship to sound and music. I was trying to find myself through the musical exploration, coming to terms with how I hear and listen to space. Continue reading