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Dr. Arwulf's Theory Of Radio

Dr. Arwulf's Theory Of Radio image
Parent Issue
Month
June
Year
1996
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held By
Agenda Publications
OCR Text

I have come to regard radio as a forcé for positivechange.Rephrase:Positiveandnega, ti ve forces in a transmission weavewave for the good of this human-infested world; hoping to effect changes in the human population which would lessen the damaging impact of our species upon the planet. Radio which would actually improve Ufe on this earth. See Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. The Song of the Earth. Tones indicati ve of introspective reweaving. Stop to contémplate and reconsider. Chicago's plugged-in Blues of Jimmy Reed: Reconsider, flay.Breatheanddream. Wake to reason. Listen careful, listen clear. Music is a forcé inherent in all transformative processes. All change is vibratory. Albert Ayler and Mary María assure us: Music is the Healing Forcé of the Uni verse. Karlheinz Stockhausen testifies: "My reflection is altered by Webern's music. Webem's music is transformed by my reflection. My reflection is altered by my reflection on Webern's music." Pierre Boulez identifies an archetype: "Mahler is a universal being within whom all threads converge. In his music, the oíd and the new, the tri ie and the never bef ore heard, the nai ve and the labored (with every imaginable degree of shadingbetweeneachoftheseextremes)areranged above, beyond, and alongsideeach other, as though in an impassioned effort to compress the whole of life into one single experience . . . Mahler is the music, that which we cali his and which in fact belongs to all of us . . . Mahler was only transitorly a human being." We the humans are empowered so as to be able to send our selves and the electric memory of our ancestors into the air as sounding ions. Radio wa ves enable us to lather the are of the atmosphere with this magie invisible milk. Lots of potential! And naturally we have wasted our most precious miracles. We always do. (Look how we treat erotic energy, for example.) To squander a medium so transformationally pcwerful as radio on the most stunted and unimaginative marketing schemes, causing most of our culture to be shaped and dri ven by capitalism. This rivals the wastefulness of industrial pollution and overprocessed food which kills slowly trom within. Wetlands drained for golf and condos. Milk-bearing mammals slaughtered for hot dogs and slim jims. What on earth do we think we are doing? Our mediumof radio is grossly abused. WCBN (88.3 FM) has shown me how creatively the watts can be handled. WEMU (89. 1 FM) represents the potential for an honest emphasis on soulful music, tastefully dished to a supportive public. WCBN is always ready to take it quite a bit further; to maintain a more free and daring relationship with the ears of the body politie. Often I play two or more recordings simultaneously. Three is ideal. This is a fresh take on polyphony, which has taproots thick in the beginning of our twentieth century, as in previous musical manifestations fromearlier centunes. Random or near-randomcombinations create new forms for all to hear. This in itself, the layering of sound sources, is something which one simply does not find happening anywhere else on the radio spectrum. At least in this región of the continent. Any confusión within our sound forms is exactly commensurate with the confusión of life on earth at this time, and of every day and night the planet has ever seen. Not only confusión but complication, (the shadow of simplicity?) reconfiguration, recombination to the extent of all possible reaching. Freeform radio formatting, even using the familiar and respectable one-record-at-a-time, is a variant on this transformative principie. We are dealing with something infinitely more deep and potentially fascinating than the simple spinning of tunes. We are transforming our world. This I do believe. Perhaps it is something akin to Ornette Coleman's preferred space: a Freedom whereby we are not distracted by or tethered to the question of whether any form of expression is good or bad, right or wrong. It is there. Freedom within a structure, open to the changes, and the changes are wide open. We hear a lot of talk about freedom; monumental lip service, most of it, without any inkling of the full magnitude of actual liberty . When real freedom shows itself, many denizens of "the land of the free and the home of the brave" cannot bear the exhiliration of true freedom, and in fact show themselves to still be quite cowardly. I know that we can do better than to cower and so desperately crave the familiar. We must remember that radio stations which do not behave like hi-tech vending machines or elevator tapes are vastly outnumbered by those that do. Marconi's miracle is either used to popularizesell specific units through endless (and eventually souldamaging) repetition, or we are given "background music," which means one might as well be rolling tape. Radio should be as vital and immediate as food and water, love and oxygen. WCBN stands for experimentation and expanded awareness through creative listening. Everyone in vol ved, from transmi tter to recei ver, learns to listen like neverbefore. This is something which far exceeds any promotional investment scheme. Rock 'n' Roll, aside from having been co-opted into a mutant category for anything which might move on the youth market, still serves as a source of real energy for mass motivation, with strong potential for individual renewal of backbeat electricity. Rhythm and a social message have become more central to much of the popular form. Blues and Jazz, mingled with every ethnic influence imaginable - most dynamically the Pan-African - send authentic heartbeats up through the Blue Rhythm roots of Rock 'n' Roll. As a West Indian ghost lights a fire in the swamp, John S inclair lights a cigar, saying "That aint nothin' new. We just changed the beat!" So many ways to gyrate. Every day the possible combinations increase. Young Americans wander into the studio and discover the other 96% of the spectrum nobody showed them when they were coming up. At last, the nineteen-year-old learns to play the Archie Shepp records. Segue to Pharoah Sanders, Howlin' Wolf and Eugene Chadbourne. Turn left at Patti Smith, through to a harrowing visit with DiamandaGalas. Somehow, PJ Harvey brings on Doe Watson and Bob Wills. Kurt Weill introduces Ice Cube introduces James Brown who surrenders to Karen Finley . Top with Albert Ayler and Tito Puente, coda courtesy of the Residents and Dick Schory's Percussion Pops Orchestra. Stay tuned for the Rastafari FJders followed by Mol Triffid with their mind-moulding masterpiece The Devil and Sammy Davis Jr. This is Radio Free Ann Arbor, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students who get to work with a handful of seasoned volunteers, and above all a gift to the listenership, students andregularcitizens who maybe pay taxes rather than tuition, each one deserving a chance to broaden her or his own perspective. Not long ago, the question aróse as to whether WCBN should be "pro-formatted" into another ice-beer-driven, pseudo-progressive college radio station. Shall we keep with the original meaning of the word "altemative," or cop out and suecumb to the sleaze bag marketing label connotation? Plenty of discussion has whirlpooled around about the future of this remarkable laboratory workshop. I have deliberately brought the issue before the public by writing these words. As always, the support of this community is imperative if WCBN is to continue to do what it does. If this article has meant anything to you at all, please send your own observations to: Program Director, WCBN FM, 53OStudent Activities Building, University of Michigan, 48 109.

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