questions for ron nagorcka
(these questions written as a kind of "trial" by students to see if
we're on the right track)
1) Do you feel a connection with
Messian and his interest in ornithology?
2) What is it about birds that especially interests you rather than the
calls of another animal?
3) Do the native aboriginals use "just" tuning in their music (I assume
so, since the didjeridu uses natural harmonics?) and if so, have you
seen how they experience music with tempered tuning?
4) What composers influenced you most and what composers today do you
enjoy listening to?
5) Is there something specific about Australian birds that you are
particularly attracted to?
1) How exactly does one electronically control the addition or
subtraction of "cents" from a tone?
2) When did musicians/composers start manipulating this stuff?
3) How do we know what an unadulterated C (or any other note) sounds
like? What makes the "standard"? Is it done simply by
intervals or is there a constant recorded somewhere? Or do we use
4) (this sounds silly but I mean it) Do specific birds sing on certain
pitches? Like, are their songs (within a species) in a certain
5) How exactly did one edit analog tape before the whole digital
1. Do you write and compose your music dependant upon the melody/
harmony of the birds or do you write the music and than find bird
sounds that coincide with the music?
2. What inspired you to initially combine bird sounds with a dijridu;
is that common or did you take credit for its innovation?
3. Do diffeent pitches of bird sounds coincide with certain pitches of
4. Do you ever incorporate any other instruments other than the dijridu
in your songs? Why the dijridu?
5. What type of feeling are you attempting to reach in people with this
music? Classical music and rock both touch different parts of the mind;
where does this music come into play?
1. Is there a specific reason why you have chosen to write music
using just intonation instead of equal temperament instruments? Is the
dijridu used in your music important in the production of the just
intonation intervals or can you use other instruments to create the
same effects that you have in your music?
2. In altering the bird sounds/melodies, do you test certain
tempo slowing or quickening and find what works well, or do you have a
distinct method in choosing specific speeds at which to control the
mixed sounds? If you test speed changes, is there a specific
quality or timbre of sound that you are looking for?
3. Is the dijridu the only aboriginal instrument that you use in
your music? Are there other aboriginal instruments that you have
played or heard throughout your experiences? Why did you choose
to use the dijridu specifically in most of of your music?
4. Since much of your music is dependent on nature, how often do
you think about composing or mixing music in daily life? Do you
make notes on your surroundings and certain observations and try to
incorporate them into your music? Do you make notes beforehand
and try to match them with future sounds or experiences? Or do
you compose only at a specific time?
5. Has your "style" of living affected the way in which you write
music besides the use of the instruments and the bird
sounds/melodies? Are there other messages or intentions that you
mean to convey by the composition of this "type" of music? Do you
think that you have an "intention" or do you like to leave your music
open to public interpretation? Do you believe that your music
should be interpreted a certain way or is there a certain theme that
you try to project through the composition or the playing of your music?
1. In your talk you described the revolution from tape to digital in
your musique concrete compositions, and the early "workarounds" you had
to develop due to the limits of technology. Twenty years later,
do you ever feel limited in your compositional scope by the technology
of today and, if you don't, does that take anything away from the
compositional process and/or final product?
2. Based on you and your wife's work in environmental awareness, and
your "walk the talk" lifestyle, how would you feel if your music was
co-opted in some way? For example, if the American Petroleum
Institute used your music in a documentary about how oil companies are
helping the environment, would this offend you? Would you care?
Would this be any different than if say Al Gore used your music in one
of his documentaries?
3. Aside from playing an Aboriginal instrument, are there any other
influences on your work from indigenous Australian culture?
4. Do you find any intrinsic benefit in the use of just intonation
besides the larger scale of microtones? It seemed like in class
you wanted to drive home the differences between a justly intoned
interval as opposed to an equally tempered one. Have you reached
the point where you actively prefer the sonority of one to the other?
When composing in a more traditional 12-tone system, do you specify
that instruments be tuned with just intonation?
5. What in your music would be lost if you composed and lived in a flat
in Sydney as opposed to the middle of nowhere? I assume you
weren't born in the bush, and if that is true I could re-phrase the
question as, what changed in your compositions once you moved into the
1) I would like to know how his environment or life Tanzania has
affected his music? Naturally I understand that it affects the types of
birds he uses and such, but has the actual experience or culture of
Tanzania become an integral part of his music?
2) Why did he decide to move to Tanzania? Did he do so for reasons
related to his music-- did he find that changing life styles and moving
to a new country was a form of inspiration?
3) I would ask him what his goals are or reasons for producing this
type of music. What does he hope to accomplish by composing this music?
4) Is creating music, as a professional musician and composer a
sustainable career in Tanzania? Or, does he have to at times supplement
with passion for music with other trades? If so, what are these other
jobs-- and do they affect his music?
5) I would ask to him to outline a typical day. Is music something he
is constantly thinking about or simply something he can turn on and off
whenever he sits down to compose? Is music an integral part of his life?
4.) For Ron: When mixing together natural bird
song with other
instruments, do you find that nature uses just intonation or does the
natural tuning of bird songs mimic the standard tuning system of a
5.) For Ron: Is each didjeridu tuned
differently depending on the
size and construction of it? Does this impact your use of the
instrument when combined with synthesized and natural sounds in your
how did you first get started in playing the digeridoo?
is the musical notation for "just" pinch differnt from normal notation?
what is the audience/performer interaction when the digeridoo is
how does the comtemporary music written for the digeridoo differ from
the aboriginal music?
is there any feedback from the aboriginals on their thoughts of how the
modern digeridoo is played/performed/