Magda Mayas ~ Terrain

Magda Mayas ~ Terrain

External image

It’s impressive how Terrain juxtaposes two concepts together in aural form, the idea of something solid with that of something ephemeral, particularly since there’s only two instruments in play throughout the album, a piano and a clavinet. The collage continually affirms and negates the boundary between those two elements, straining their relationship to the limit as longer, wider sounds give…

View On WordPress


tony buck, john butcher, magda mayas (via helentonic)

# III /// Three questions : Silence, emptiness, boredom, slowness /// Steve Roden, Billy Gomberg, Magda Mayas
  • Currently, there is more and more possibility to feel kind of necessity of silence, being in silence and closing into the depths of your own heart. It is a time for re-opening a space for stories, not visual ones but sonic ones, that can be discovered only by a well-set and open ears. There are often stories about nothing, full of gaps, edges and the rustle of primordial vibration. What does these Silence mean to you and what place it takes in your poetics?

Steve Roden

It is not the sound itself, but the listener - not so much what to listen to but how to listen… where does that focus come from. as far as i know and as far as i live and as far as so many locations, silence seems less real… and in its shadow, quiet is also a phantom. it’s not to say that noise is in opposition of silence, but that it dominates. so, the question is where is silence found? or quiet? i am sitting at my desk around midnight. my wife watching a movie, my door is closed, so i can hear muffled talking, but also the slight buzz of a lamp, my fingers on the keyboard as i write to you. the kettle. sipping tea. the landscape is filled. even the sound of air being sucked in and out of my nose.

***extract*** : Steve Roden - Airforms (2005, Airforms, Line)

Billy Gomberg

This question reveals an extra-musical concern - something social or sculptural - the relationship of silence to space, which I understand as both physical space (environment, architecture, crowds, solitude) and emotional space.  This is equally if not more important to my practice as concepts of silence.  The listener’s space determines the quality of an experienced silence - the acoustics of a room and external noise create the silence which is heard, and the listener’s emotional space, their boredom or engagement, their relationship with the work and the immediate world around them, color that “silence.”  I hear silence as the articulation of a space in which nothing immediate or intentional is happening.  Practically, silence is of more use to me in improvisation or production of a score for others.  When playing with others, my own silence is an opening of my sensitivity for listening and performance to the space of what is happening between myself and the other performers - how are we engaged with each other, the audience, and the space we are in.  This should allow the listener room as well, and where we meet is where the articulation of the music into meaning happens.  When I am practicing or really producing my own work, the consideration of silence is not nearly as important as the consideration and experience of space.

***extract*** : Billy Gomberg - A Window Open In An Empty Room (2014, Certain Words Again And Again, Sunshine Ltd.)

Magda Mayas

Silence and sound play equal parts in my work . As my music is very sound based, deriving its structure from sound itself , it needs silence to give context to  sound - and I think Cages ideas around silence are still valid giving space to the ambient sounds surrounding us and the physicality of silence/ sound in our bodies etc.

***extract*** : Magda Mayas - Shards (2010, Heartland, Another Timbre)

  • This is connected with the transition from speed to slowness, with interest in long-term processes and reduction of musical material.  Can we currently observe a growing interest in “philosophy of reduction” in sonic works?


This is difficult to say. are people moving slower? i doubt that very much. when i think about slower i think about pace - how i move. how i engage. it’s a strange simple thing, but maybe 10 years ago i was staying in a squatter house in europe and one morning i got up to go to the bathroom and there was a woman lying on the floor and listening to some dub music. she was still in her pajamas and her eyes were closed and i kept thinking about it, because it is rare to see someone totally relaxed and just kind of being. this was before i had a cell phone, etc. but it still struck me as a kind of slowness - to create space - so called empty space that comes out of slowness. unfortunately i find these ideas to be appealing in simple terms, but language such as a “philosophy of reduction” feels like a smoke screen. nonetheless, in your question regarding sonic works, i, obviously, think about feldman, and duration. obviously, duration is not only about speed, but a long duration - even when something moves quickly, like steve reich, the duration tends to deny narrative, and as such, sound becomes a kind of space - not so much of silent sound, but in terms of the absence of narrative and dynamics… my problem with the idea that became lowercase was limiting and i don’t like the idea of people conforming to an aesthetic. i mean, i grew up musically in a punk band in the late 1970’s… that moment of my life was quite loud, and the silence was only of being alone (which i still need often). i don’t want to speak for others, but like punk, a philosophy of reduction is certainly a response to what is happenign in popular culture (which can’t deal with slowness or reduction at all). but a lot of this feels like a cliche’… i like contradiction - such as japanese noise music. most people think japanese culture is very quiet and still and meditative, but japanese noise is quite another thing… i am a fan of reduction and over abundance… depending on the circumstances. i don’t want to be a card carrying member of the slowness group…

***extract*** : Steve Roden & Brandon LaBelle - A Torn Element (1999, The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm, Meme)


Composition, improvisation and electronic/electroacoustic music have documented many approaches to reduction, especially in the last 25 or so years.  I do not have a personal or professional interest in the philosophizing of it.  

***extract*** : Billy Gomberg - False Heat (2013, False Heat, False Records)


I don’t think Reductionism in Music  is a new idea, its been around since the beginning of the 90ties, with the new london silence, echtzeitmusik, japanese improvised music, reductionist music movements in vienna and Wandelweiser. 

***extract*** : Annette Krebs | Anthea Caddy | Magda Mayas - Sands (2012, Thread, Another Timbre)

  • At the same time we can follow changing the way of listening to such sonic works. Do you think that there exist a cultural model - the silence listener?


It depends on what you think about a cultural model. again, i probably don’t have such a thing… for one would hope that people experience sound differently. certainly, a lot of people are thinking about sound in relation to noise - background noise that is generally now louder than primary noise. it agitates or vitalizes depending on your “needs”… for me, yes, the slient listener is probably my favorite territory… where things can be noticed because the usual noises block them out. but it is romantic. for we live in our time and we shouldn’t always want to escape. of course, when i think about cage, i think about my own relationship to traffic or leaf blowers or construction, etc. it isn’t up to the noise to make me happy, it is up to me to decide what kind of experience i am having and how to shift that experience so that it offers a conversation between my tastes, my needs, my interests, etc. a cultural model seems scary to me. i don’t want to follow anyone else’s model, nor for someone to follow my own. noise is part of our landscape… it is up to us to find ways to converse with it.

***extract*** : Steve Roden - Resonantlightones  (2000, Four Possible Landscapes, Trente Oiseaux)


Absolutely.  The audience for music that asks them to, in your words, “[close] into the depths of [their] own heart” and be emotionally available for “stories about nothing, full of gaps, edges, empty spaces” is a select group.  The best of this kind of music encourages and engages the listener in their silence, relates to them as part of this world, assists them in developing their own silence within themselves, but in a way that continues their engagement with the sonic world around them.

***extract*** : Fraufraulein (Billy Gomberg & Anne Guthrie) - Extinguishment 


What comes to my mind is Pauline Olivieros Deep listening idea.

***extract*** : Magda Mayas - Slow Metal Skin (2010, Heartland, Another Timbre)

Steve Roden


Active listening: Soundwalk catalog (2005)

Infinite/intimate: Strange attractor (2011)

On lowercase affinities and forms of paper (2011)

Billy Gomberg

Interview with Billy Gomberg & Anne Guthrie

Magda Mayas


Fifteen Questions with Magda Mayas:  Thinking outside the piano


Oui, jusqu'où iront-elles, ces musiciennes évoluant dans le circuit très masculin de l'improvisation libre ? Elles n'ont décidément rien à envier à leurs congénères, pas même là où l'improvisation est retranchée dans ses limites les plus austères, là où, paradoxalement (?) aussi, se joue en partie la raison d'être de ces musiques. Pour ceux qui ne suivraient que de loin l'histoire de cette musique, nous parlons du réductionnisme, forme représentée l'année dernière par Radu Malfatti.

Et comme le festival météo n'a vraiment peur de rien, en plus de persister et signer dans cette voie, nous avons toujours eu à coeur par ailleurs de présenter sur scène des femmes. Non pas dans une quelconque intention d'égalitarisme ou de quotas en faveur des “minorités visibles” (sic), mais plutôt parce que ces dames saisissent des instants qui n'appartiennent qu'à elles sans chercher à les masculiniser. Le résultat à pour effet de dépoussiérer certaines pratiques enduites de formol !

Pour preuve, ce tout récent disque de Magda Mayas, accompagnée par deux Australiennes. Magda se produira également cette après-midi au garage Sax en compagnie de Christine Abdelour pour un moment de grâce — à n'en pas douter.

Retrouvez également Magda Mayas chez notre partenaire :

Öneriyorum / I recommend

Artists / Sanatçılar: John Butcher, Tony Buck, Magda Mayas, Burkhard Stangl
Title Of Album / Albümün Adı: Plume
Year Of Release / Yılı: 2013
Label / Müzik Firması: Unsounds
Genre / Türü: Jazz
Total Time / Toplam Süre: 69:02 min

Tracklist / Parça Listesi:
01 Fiamme
02 Vellum

Drums, Percussion – Tony Buck
Guitar – Burkhard Stangl (tracks: 1)
Piano – Magda Mayas (tracks: 2)
Saxophone [Saxophones] – John Butcher

Two live sets with a dynamic duo of John Butcher (saxes) and the outstanding percussionist Tony Buck joined by a different third improvisor on each. “Fiamme” features Burkhard Stangl on brittle guitar; his angular twists and harmonic taps start things off. Butcher valve fluttering

and doing more subtle sputtering, some shuffly percussion until about 4:30 in when Butcher starts to hit the squeakier tea kettle piercers. Some nearly flamenco strums come and Butcher works into uproar mode by 6+ minutes…what ensues is sort of a relay race between those few fiery
escapades and more gentle, but still vivid free work. Around 12 min, the band sounds like a harmonium impostor verging on some kind of lab alarm. Some moments like 17-20 min are tough in the car, but heaven in the headphones. Microsounds too much to review on a sticker that fits on the CD. Buck topples some metal, and makes cymbals rain. He’s amazing. And that’s the shorter piece! “Vellum” rolls Magda Maya’s
piano into the fray, prepared under the hood goodies vs the bird calls of Butcher. Buck tries building a cage around them, but a city then an ocean (Mayas’ piano at the bottom) and then a world keep growing. By 14+ mins we are reminded that all three are percussive, but again a quiet cycle slips in. I often feel that improv is more playful and humorous than my ears can tell, but this sprawler covers some downright spooky territory in its construction, (see 32-34min) before the pulsating waves of more jointed jazz close it. More dark and furious than the first.