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Dada in the USA

There are a whole range of Dada sounds from the USA, from California to New York – so to hear them all, head over to the sound map page here. We’ve selected just a few from the project to highlight here for you – enjoy!

First up is Efim Shapiro’s lovely field recording coming out of the Washington DC metro to hear the sound of jazz buskers – regular contributor Jeff Dungfelder from New York took this approach to create his piece DadAdrift:

“Before composing “dadAdrift”, my reconstruction of the sample recording of “Take the A Train” performed by the Dupont Circle jazz buskers, I researched and embraced the history of the Dada Movement and its rejection of traditional art standards and use of nonsense to represent the senselessness of war and violence.

“In the process, I also discovered an interesting backstory to the Duke Ellington signature tune, “Take the A Train,” composed by Billy Strayhorn in 1939.

When Ellington first heard Strayhorn’s song, he wanted to record it. He tracked down the composer and offered him a job and money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. To get to his home, Ellington told Strayhorn to “take the A train.”

“On the way, gripped by anxiety, Strayhorn threw his draft in the trash, believing his song sounded too much like a Fletcher Henderson arrangement. Eventually, Strayhorn’s song was retrieved from the trash and rebirthed as “”Take the A Train.” What Strayhorn designated as trash Ellington elevated into art.

“Using the original sound sample of the “jazz buskers” with the Dadaist doctrine in mind, I deconstructed and reimagined Strayhorn’s song, which has become “dadAdrift.” What was “”thrown away” became what was “kept”.”

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Memory version:

Next, we head over to Los Angeles, to hear Nick Campbell’s take on the sounds of a local car wash. He writes:\

“”For us, art is not an end in itself,” wrote Dada poet Hugo Ball, “but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.”

“Thematically, I chose to turn the sound of a car wash into a menacing, industrial anti-song… sonically dissonant and foreboding.

“Fossil-fuel burning cars are at the core of debate related to pollution and how we choose to organize as modern humans if we are to survive. The mutilated sounds of the car wash mirror the apocalyptic undertones of this debate.”

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Memory version:

Finally, it’s Boulder Park in Colorado for an unusual piece by Masha Sha, who inserts herself into the recording to interrupt the field recording process:

“According to Hans Richter, Dada represented the opposite of everything which art stood for. Dada was intended to offend. I asked myself “how can I rebel against the rules of field recording and do something opposite?”

“One of the biggest no-nos in field recording is capturing the sounds of the person who is recording. That person should be breathless and invisible on the soundscape captured. That is why i decided to center my composition entirely on that kind of “wrong” sound.
“Every “ism” in art history denies the previous “ism” in order to manifest new aesthetic and meaning. That is why i thought ascending the mountain would be an appropriate metaphor.
“The composition is consist only from the recorded sounds of me ascending the mountain. I introduced chance to complete the composition by overlapping two identical tracks with slight delay.”

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Memory version: