02 March 2013
Suzanne Ciani & The Problem Of Primary Teaching
Available via the ever reliable Finders Keepers. Almost everything they've released is worth a look and they do cheapo compilations too.
Because I've been listening to the inspired lunacy of Music Minus Music (great title, great music for bouncing on a bed with a two year old, great music for shuffling to work, waiting for your morning body to unfold) which is almost exactly half silly / half sublime (and each part of the silliness is sublime and so on...) I've been re-investigating Suzanne Ciani.
Now, I've heard of her and heard her before, she's someone I've been (The) Wired to listen to before but never really got - I think I heard the wrong things, went scurrying down the wrong holes because the stuff I heard only made sense in a retro awe kinda way (cf lots of the Radiophonic Workshop stuff, of course) rather than because of any actual Form or content it might have had. It sounded like the kind of thing I might want to like, especially if it was done by an, er, lady... and she had nice bouncy hair like Delia Derbyshire and...
...the joke is not a joke; the presence of female electronic composers (or any composers beyond the go-girls-go rattle of The Runaways and their descendents) is an unsettlingly dense issue - people still continually comment if girls are even at the kind of gigs I tend to go to, as if as Plato rapped: 'beauty was a visitor from another world' (I doubt he was talking about girls) but then almost immediately feel bad about making those kind of comments, as if there's a new form of sexist rubicon to cross (there is but I'm guessing no one really knows where it is)
Electronic music is laughingly still in a similar, but opposite, position to Primary Teaching, which is even more laughingly in the same position its always been in: we need desperately some vague sense that a gender balance could be maintained in the real world , as a simple matter of fact as opposed to merely being temporarily addressed by dabblers and dilettantes - I tried to be a Primary Teacher years ago, lasted about a year, scurried to the warm arms of FE teaching.
Trying is key, I think... and, though the electronic world doesn't seem particularly macho in it's current manifestation - I've yet to meet the Henry Rollins of Post Radiophonic Electro-drone Gristle, of Hauntology, of Chill Wave et al - there's still that sense, more or less palpable, that girls are somehow different (not girls?) if they happen along with this geeky thing (it almost requires those little hats with flaps - we've all got them! - and beards and jackets with badges and unkempt hair and... well, you see my point...) or else they are appendages and afterthoughts, inspired by their artful boyfriends (and this kinda crap been going on forever), or else they are simply suffering all these ridiculous and undanceable bleeps and drones and whooshes because they are lovely people and maybe later one of these guys will actually take them dancing or remember to come off the modular synthesiser and start playing with them...
I'm not sure where I'm going with this (not sure where that modular synth metaphor was going, seemed like it was heading to some dark dark places). I'm glad I'm not a proper writer, can simply derail this... I'm not sure I'm being at all consistent here, or even that I want to be... I think those NLP patches I bought are starting to bleed into my brain.
I think the point I'm trying to make is exemplified by this piece of video, that I pilfered from here (which also has some other great Suzanne Ciani clips). Peter Ustinov's opening line is fantastic too. In fact, it's all fantastic:
So I bought some Suzanne Ciani stuff and it's really good... like a Raymond Scott where you can't see the joins. And she's hotter than Daphne-