Covid-19: so, what do you need to do now (?) December 2021

Coda (Redux)  1 min. to be played on an endless loop                       saxophone, violin, voice, various percussion, objects, electronic keyboard, aerophone

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This one-minute piece, Coda (Redux),  by [the gathering…the chewing] – improvising duo Geoff Bright and Gillian Whiteley – was constructed and recorded on Thursday 2 December 2021.  Back in April 2020, we made a series of freely improvised pieces responding to similarities we identified in 1970s government recommendations in the event of a nuclear attack, outlined in Protect and Survive, and government Covid advice, such as Protect Yourself and Loved Ones. Both, as we highlighted then, deployed a false logic of war and viral contagion as a response to an ‘enemy’ – a feature that we wished to challenge though sonic de(re)construction. In re-visiting that intention, Covid-19: so, what do you need to do now (?), took the original track ‘A new continuous cough’  from the earlier series and overlaid it with repeated samples of freely improvised electronic sonic material produced at two later points during the course of ever changing Covid restrictions and repeated ‘lockdowns’ through 2020/21.

The use of electronic instruments, enforced by our domestic situation was a new approach for us. Adapting to the highly produced sonic palette of electronic instruments (their ‘good’ voice) was initially uncomfortable, though we have come to see it as interestingly productive. The collision of acoustic and electronic soundscapes and the ‘glitch-scape’ of now ubiquitous digital platforms such as ‘zoom’ (in which we have regularly participated) articulates some distinctive political and aesthetic tensions of the Covid period, in particular the permanent, paradoxical rhetoric of things constantly getting worse/getting better. With our short piece, Coda (Redux), we draw attention to this and to the inherently unfinishable question of ‘what do you need to do now’ by requiring that it be played and heard on an endless loop.

This project continues to develop a politicised improvisative practice that we are calling sonus inter/alter – a kind of ‘sounding between/against’ that draws on the legacy of Italian autonomism, other dissident Marxisms and the work of Deleuze and Guattari.

Image: a deconstructive striking-through of a diagram from Protect and Survive pamphlet prepared for Home Office by Central Office for Information HMSO 1976