Carl Stone: Kamiya Bar - new release on New Tone Records
The Tokyo that Roland Barthes called the "Empire of Signs" might just as well be termed the "Empire of Sounds". Tokyo is a city of intense media bombardment reflected strongly in the soundscape. Like the buildings of the city's neighborhoods, familiar sounds can disappear seemingly overnight, replaced by entirely new ones as the metropolis goes through phenomenally rapid change. Amplification is everywhere - take away the loudspeaker and it seems that the entire soundscape might collapse.

For the foreigner who beholds the Tokyo soundscape for the first time, without language comprehension the impression can only be one of fascination and bewilderment. We are assaulted by sound images everywhere we turn. The sweet- potato peddler, the elevator girls, the sounds of the Tsukiji fish market, the train-stations, the politicians who lecture from trucks, the abacus lessons on the radio, the television commercials all hypnotize. Perhaps the experience is that like a first-born infant, fresh into the world, amazed by sounds without any comprehension beyond childlike intuition as to their nature.

Obviously, native Japanese will experience these sounds completely differently because of the cultural and linguistic familiarity. To a Japanese, when an "elevator girl" says "This is the third floor" they do not think anything more. But I am transfixed by the quality of voice, of sound, of the abstract semantic. So the experience has always been primarily musical for me

Kamiya Bar was commissioned by Tokyo-FM and was premiered with three performances at Tokyo-FM Hall in June 1992. The challenge of the commission was to create a composition using the "sounds of Tokyo life". To make the piece I relied mostly on many hours of DAT recordings that I made during a 6-month stay in Tokyo made possible by a grant from the Asian Cultural Council. In Kamiya Bar I have sought to make a piece that weaves a select number of the many Tokyo sounds I have collected, and manipulate them in time via expansion, compression, fragmentation and interleaving techniques. I contrast and compare them, and place them in an overall musical context. It is my theory, and only a theory, that in doing so, the residents of Tokyo can have a new perspective of the wonderful sounds that surround them in their daily life.

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Image, text and layout for all pages 1995 Carl Stone