Robin Hayward, tuba

L40 | Kunstverein am Rosa Luxemburg Platz

November 23, 2017. It seemed an obvious choice to invite tuba virtuoso Robin Hayward to provide musical counterpoint to Mitya Trtozki’s FUGITIVE SOULS. But the program for ITINERANT INTERLUDE #10 ventured beyond mere timbral associations of the exhibition’s themes to present works that explore sounds and techniques not usually associated with the tuba in its classical form. The three compositions – Barge, Treader, and Release – describe three very different soundscapes, each the fruit of Hayward’s ongoing research to expand the language of contemporary instrumental technique with his instrument.

Both Treader (2009) and Release (2002/2009) belong to a series of works that draw on the ‘noise-valve’ technique developed by Robin Hayward, in which the piston valves of the tuba are rotated, rather than depressed, in order to produce noise. The gradual rotation of the other valves leads to micro-variations in timbre as the same impulse passes through different acoustic spaces. Whereas Treader utilizes the technique to create percussive sounds, Release filters turbulent air within the tuba, adding an extra layer of material upon each repetition of the initial structure, resulting in a work that is an acoustic version of tape overdubbing.

The actual sounds of the cruise ship depicted in Trotzki’s photo essay provided both the inspiration and the musical material for Hayward’s Barge which was composed especially for ITINERANT INTERLUDE #10. In this work, Hayward utilized field recordings of the ocean liner on view in the exhibition as a background track with the tuba playing a radically slowed version of the repetitive signature melody that appears in the audio recording.

The evening’s musical performances counterpointed a conversation between artist Mitya Trotzki and curator Anatoly Shuralev and readings from “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”, American writer David Foster Wallace’s very personal deconstruction of the luxury cruise experience which he originally wrote for Harper’s magazine in 1995.

Tuba virtuoso and composer Robin Hayward was born in Brighton, England and has been based in Berlin since 1998. He is well known for having introduced radical playing techniques to brass instruments, initially through the discovery of the ‘noise-valve’ in 1996, and later through the development of the first fully microtonal tuba in 2009. He performs internationally as both soloist and member of a wide variety of ensembles including the trio Zinc & Copper which explores brass chamber music from an experimental perspective. His music has been released on CD by Edition Telemark, Sofa, Mikroton, Cassauna, Important Records, Corvo, Another Timbre, Pogus, Fringes, and Choose Records; titles includes Valve Division, States of Rushing, Nouveau Saxhorn Nouveau Basse and Rubble Master, along with numerous collaborative releases, such as with the microtonal tuba trio Microtub and the tuba and double bass duo Reidemeister Move.