Alvin Lucier – Nothing Is Real

Instrumentation: orchestra and electronics
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Score: Fragment       Buy

This is surely one of the most charming pieces in Lucier’s œuvre. Fragments from the Beatles song “Strawberry Fields Forever” are played on the piano and simultaneously recorded. In the second part of the piece, the recording is played back from a small loudspeaker hidden inside a teapot. The sound of the playback is altered by different positions of the lid (e.g., open, closed, partially closed, partially open…) or by lifting the closed teapot off the piano. From time to time even “melodic lines” – as indicated in the score – are created by changing the distance of the lid to the teapot. The curiosity to hear a grand piano from the inside of a teapot is similar to hearing the sound of the Cologne train station inside a thimble, as in CHAMBERS, one of Lucier’s earlier works.
Lucier hides the technical details, and for the listener, the sounds coming from the teapot are somewhat ghostlike. Maybe because of this, the whole situation reminds us of the fairytale “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp”: Alvin and the magic teapot…