Introducing Hans Tammen (Harvestworks, NYC)

Hans Tammen, Endangered Guitar

Hans Tammen, Endangered Guitar

In the lead up to the Second Nature talk in early December let me introduce you to Hans Tammen form New York. He will be presenting his project Endangered Guitar and of course his home-base in New York, the Harvestworks, where he acts as deputy director and sound artist. We will do a Skype session with him and also we will listen to showcase of his work on quadro audio setup. I have asked Hans few questions in an online interview to create a short teaser for the event!

Could you introduce us to Harvestworks in NYC?
We were founded in 1977, as a non-profit organisation, helping composers of electronic music. In those times you needed to have a lot of cash to buy a synthesizer, so having an organization buying equipment and renting it out for $3/hr was a great idea. That spirit is still alive at Harvestworks today – we help artists create their artwork. However, today we focus on programming for interactive applications.

Is there a way for Australian artists or any other international artists to get involved with Harvestworks?
We’re open to anyone, and we had numerous Australian artists in the past working on their projects at Harvestworks, or studying in our Certificate Program. We often helped with recommendation letters to acquire funding.

How would you describe your project “Endangered Guitar” (before we will have the chance to hear part of it at The Edge at Second Nature)?
It’s basically the “interactive guitar”. I don’t see “electronics” as a mere effect, I see it as a class of instruments next to string, percussion or other instrument classes. As such, I like when it is an independent voice in the context of the music, not just some icing on the cake. The guitar is the sound source, but the sounds are heavily processed and altered, creating a different sonic universe.

And it’s interactive, which means the processing is controlled by my guitar playing, in a way that the information from the audio analysis is driving the software routines. I also programmed some “freedom” into the way the algorithms behave, so that I’m often playing “with” the instrument, not “the” instrument.

Have any other exciting artistic projects caught your eye lately?
Interesting question. Probably the easiest is to remember what excited me most, when I saw other people at festivals and concerts. There was Elektro Guzzi from Austria, who play Techno with guitar/bass/drums, and bring a great improvisatory spirit to that music. There was the Nick Bärtsch Ensemble from Switzerland, who show what you can do in Jazz when you apply minimalist strategies – together with the total absence of the show-off solos that are so common in certain music styles it had a degree of subtlety you rarely find in any music. Then Kruzenstern y Parochod, a band from Israel that combined Klezmer and Punk in a great way. Ah!

What’s the best thing about being based in NYC and being able to surf on the multicultural mix of the Big Apple?
You have access to musicians, who are equally great across a wide range of genres and styles, can sight-read like crazy AND are amazing improvisers. And since they all have created or participated in all kinds of odd concepts, nobody says to you “you can’t do that” when you come up with a new idea. Plus, you pay the highest prices for the worst health care in the industrialized countries. Oh, I forgot, most of my musician friends do not have health care anyway.

To hear more from Hans join us on 6 December for the free Second Nature talk.

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