Aviva Endean - clarinet and miniature loudspeaker (watch video here)
- - -
It is said that art of the highest order should engage both the mind and body – that it should express both the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The music that Aviva Endean creates does exactly that. It makes you think, and it asks questions of the listener, but it also creates spaces for pure sensual listening.
Aviva’s recently released solo album, cinder: ember: ashes, showcases her inventiveness as an artist. She is a virtuoso clarinettist but she also completely transcends the instrument employing a range of extended techniques, preparations, and textural approaches that far from being ‘novelties’ seem utterly essential, perhaps even inevitable, within the modes of expression she has developed.
In the solo recorded for this series Aviva focuses, for the first half, on conventional approaches to the instrument played with exquisite control and subtlety. The repeated figure with which she begins her solo moves through harmonic shifts, holding a steady pulse and trailing gossamer overtones that are produced with just the breath, fingers, and mouth, but which are so otherworldly that it is hard to believe there is no electronic processing involved. In my conversations with Aviva she refers to the incredible range of possibilities offered by the instrument but says, “I often find it more interesting to focus on a smaller field of possibilities and the subtle and minute ways that I can explore an idea within that limited frame.”
In the second half of her solo recording Aviva uses a contact microphone and a miniature loudspeaker to dip into a contrasting world of breath tones and AM radio-like frequencies that are manipulated with the simple physical movement of lifting the handheld speaker from her leg.
I particularly love that the processes involved in this work are utterly transparent. Gesture and aural outcome are linked in every moment and yet we remain transfixed by some other mysterious process. The mind of the artist. Creativity. Thoughts rendered as sound. Inhalations and exhalations suddenly sculpted into meaning bearing forms.
I asked Aviva what inspires her and what currently drives her relentless inventiveness and creativity: “I have become very interested in the relationship that is set up between the player and the audience. On the surface, solo playing could seem to be the most egocentric form of music making, yet something of the intimacy, soul-bearing and vulnerability that can occur within the solo form can also make it incredibly generous and inclusive.”