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Design & editorial
Publication date: March 2018
110% funded
263 backers

A new album - that's a book -

For my next record, I will write a description of the record rather than make the music itself. It will be divided into chapters in the same way that an album is separated in to tracks. This is that book.

Each chapter will describe in precise detail what sounds to use, how they should be organised and occasionally an approximation of what the net result should sound like. Crucially it must be able to be recorded for real given enough time, access and resources. However, I will never make the record. It will always just be a description of the music itself.

Somewhere buried in the last 100 years between the invention of the microphone, the tape machine, the sampler and the computer, music has undergone a formidable and profound revolution. Instead of making music with specifically designed instruments, we can now make music out of anything (whether it is intrinsically musical or not). Why use a violin when you can use a lawnmower? Why use a lawnmower when you can use the explosion of a bomb in Libya? This fundamentally changes the basic structures and assumptions of music as we move (painfully slowly) from a form of impression to a form of documentary.

I would like this book then to be a kind of manifesto for sound that makes this shift explicit. In that way there will be no musical instruments or lyrics described in the piece. Instead, we may read about the sound of Samantha Cameron rubbing suncream into David Cameron’s back on holiday in Ibiza, mixed in to the sound of 21,000 taxi drivers turning off their engines at exactly the same time. It hopes to challenge how we think about music, sound and of course, how we hear the world itself.

Matthew Herbert is a prolific and accomplished musician, artist, producer and writer whose range of innovative works extends from numerous albums (including the much-celebrated Bodily Functions) to Ivor Novello nominated film scores (Life in a Day) as well as music for the theatre, Broadway, TV, games and radio. He has performed solo, as a DJ and with various musicians including his own 18 piece big band all round the world from the Sydney opera house, to the Hollywood Bowl and created installations, plays and opera.

He has remixed iconic artists including Quincy Jones, Serge Gainsbourg, and Ennio Morricone and worked closely over a number of years with musical acts as diverse as Bjork and Dizzee Rascal. He has been sampled by J Dilla for Slum Village and another of his pieces (Cafe de Flore) inspired a movie by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club). He has produced other artists such as Roisin Murphy, The Invisible, Micachu and Merz and released some of these works alongside others on his own label – Accidental Records. He also set up NX records with Goldsmiths University to support the release of music from alumni and others. Notable collaborators have included chef Heston Blumenthal, playwrights Caryl Churchill and Duncan Macmillan, theatre director Lyndsey Turner, musician Arto Lindsay and writer Will Self but he is most known for working with sound, turning ordinary or so-called found sound in to electronic music. His most celebrated work ONE PIG followed the life of a pig from birth to plate and beyond. He is relaunching an online Museum of Sound and is the creative director of the new Radiophonic Workshop for the BBC. His debut play The Hush was performed at the National Theatre, his debut opera The Crackle at the Royal Opera House and he continues to work on projects for the screen as well as the stage. He is currently finishing his debut book called The Music for the publisher Unbound.

Introduction.

Initially it was my inability to play piano like Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, then Bill Evans or Theolonius Monk. Then it was my failure to orchestrate like Ravel, or have mastery over a deep, elongated melody like Mahler. Even when I was writing dance music, there were always other people making more detailed programming, or bigger kick drums. It wasn't until I got to grips with the sampler that I found a way through: here was an instrument unlike any other, a democratic tool from the ground up.

Crucially for an electronic instrument, it was, in the 90s at least, empty. It came with no suggestions, no presets, no built-in context - and no real history to speak of either. It was as close to a blank slate as I have seen in a studio. It even allowed you to choose your own microphone to record the sounds with, just a box whose job was to listen first, make noise second. Its only two main limitations were the size of its memory and the user's imagination. Despite these constraints, it was uncompromising - suddenly anything was possible. Anything that made a sound was now music.

Initially my imagination couldn't process the absurdly vast potential of the instrument and I just recorded things immediately to hand: toasters, bottles, kitchens etc. Slowly though, as I travelled abroad, and meandered through conversations with journalists and collaborators , I began to realise that, for music, the sampler changed everything.

And then samplers became built in to software - suddenly I could now drag and drop huge numbers of files or play 88 pianos at once or 999 people clapping one-after-another at high frequency. Freed from the limitations of hardware, we now have a chance to listen to the world in a way that has never been possible before. Sifting through thousands of recordings, we can now listen to Belgium compared to Brazil, or Tuesdays compared to Sundays.

Much of music is so busy soundtracking the status quo that it's lost its evolutionary urge. Faced with the chance to make music out of an A&E department or a guitar, music continues to choose the path of least resistance. One of the roles of music is as storyteller, and it seems like a too-easily surrendered opportunity. In fact, at a time when we face a number of existential threats, it seems willfully narcissistic to defiantly ignore this change, this chance.

For those of us who have nailed our flag firmly to the mast of making microphone music - turning so-called real sounds into music - things are running away from us at an alarming rate. The ability to make music out of anything can never be explored fully in one lifetime. And so this idea I first had 20 years ago, to write a description of a record rather than make one, suddenly feels more urgent. I'm running out of time to do it all in practice, so ironically, it's time to return to pen and paper.

Read more...

A note from the editor on 'The Music'

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Philip Connor is an editor at Unbound. He wrote the following after the first editorial meeting with Matthew Herbert to discuss the book.

 

I'm on the bus home from the National Gallery, where I spent the afternoon with Matthew Herbert discussing his book, The Music, which he is about to finish. I’m Matthew’s editor at Unbound and this was our first editorial meeting.

 

Two…

one week til completion

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

thanks everyone for your patience. the book is now just one week from being finished from my side. it then goes to the editor for their comments before going in to production after that. if you have any questions about how long the next stage is where the book is actually printed and distributed, please email unbound direct.

am nervous of course but pleased to be nearly there.

thank you again…

Charles Goodwin
Charles Goodwin asked:

Hi! I've been a massive fan for over 10 years and I'm strongly considering going in at the "Herbert creates" level. Just wanted to ask about the samples/music created:

- is there a length limitation to the samples?
- does the contributor have any input into the music created - as in can we indicate which Herbert flavor we like?
- is it possible to get insight into the production process of our song? Just generally speaking I'm extremely interested in the technical/engineering process of a Herbert song.

Thanks!
Ben

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

hi ben
there is no length limit to the samples, but longer samples tend to dictate a slower feeling to the track as they need time to gestate. you can send as many as you like, but the clearer/simpler the parameters the more precise the final piece tends to be.
you can certainly indicate a stylistic preference and i can try and work to that. please bear in mind though that the act of turning sounds in to music is inherently about surrender - listening to what you have and letting the raw material take the lead.
if it's interesting for you to see if being made, there may be a way for me to film the piece being written. am certainly happy to answer any technical questions you have. if you have the technology, i can also send you the final piece in logic in all its component parts so you can retrace/remix/take apart the final song.
thanks for the questions.
matthew

Charles Goodwin
Charles Goodwin asked:

Really appreciate you answering my questions. Just listened to The Shakes again this morning - the details are heavenly.

I actually use a PC so I don't have logic, however, any filming/question answering (time permitting for you, of course)/final file access would be truly amazing. I can track down a friend with logic and assess from there. I mostly produce in Buzz machines (amazing modular tracker thing, excellent for sample work - you may actually really enjoy checking it out next time your revamp your studio) and Cubase.

Final questions regarding the funding:
- How much time will I have to gather the samples once committed?
- I'm not very familiar with unbound - if this project doesn't hit it's $$ target what happens?

Thanks again
Ben

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

hi ben
you have at least 6-8 weeks before samples are needed.
and if we don't raise the whole amount, you would get your money back.
kind regards
matthew

Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas asked:

Dear Mr Herbert,

Being a fan since approximatly 15 years i once had a goal... Collecting all of your work.
I failed...
Living in Belgium I unfortunately haven't seen you live but six times. Yet every single time was amazing. Jazz Middelheim in 2007 is a story I still tell many times when the occasion occures. The crowd was manely jazz-oriented and when you started a soundscape with your glass of wine against your teeth some "boooh-s" came from the audience.... But few minutes later mouths fell open, eyes spreaded and a once-in-a-llifetime-experience followed.
On a dj-set in the "vooruit" Gent you came to take a look at the atmosphere just before your set and i spotted you. "Mr Herbert, what an honour to meet you..." "The honour is all mine..." you replied... :)
This year you were at "Innercity Dance Festival" near Brussels and again the Herbert-experience was overpowering. Again you managed to create a sound that hasn't been heard before. A typical Herbert yet whole new... so... a typical Herbert (if you don't mind).

My wife doesn't agree spending 1000 pounds on an LP (which I try to understand) so I'll try to be happy with signed books. One for me, and one for my son Matthew(11y). You left me no choise calling him so...

Kind regards,
Michael

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

thanks for the support michael

Aurelien E
Aurelien E asked:

Dear Matthew
I am very interested by the "Herbert records" option. I don't live in the UK, so a bit of planning would be needed. When will the recording session take place?
Many thanks for your wonderful art.
Aurelien

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

hi aurelien.
i will be making the record for a week in liverpool mon-friday 14th-18th
you could choose the day from one of those.
many thanks
matthew

guy hajaj
guy hajaj asked:

Hi Matthew!

Does the 20GBP include shipping everywhere? I'm from Israel.

Thanks!

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Guy,

No it doesn't - the shipping charge will be added at the checkout once we know your delivery destination.

Best wishes,

Unbound Support

Jonathan Thomas
Jonathan Thomas asked:

Hi Matthew,
The project sounds amazing.
I have question about the 'attended recording session' option on the menu.
Will you actually be doing any good ol' recording/production work during these sessions or will you just be writing words?
(Forgive me if it's a stupid question)
Thanks in advance and best wishes,
Jonathan

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

hi jonathan. it's actually a good question. i'll be writing/producing music with sounds in the usual way. you can find out more details here: http://www.metalculture.com/event/process-nude/
apart from working with sound, it's unrelated to the book.
regards
matthew

Aurelien E
Aurelien E asked:

Dear Matthew

I went for the "Herbert Records" option, but I have an important question. What month will the recording take place ? As you mentioned "a week in liverpool mon-friday 14th-18th" I assumed it would be in December, but I see on the calendar that there's a similar week in March 2016. I already booked train tickets to London and booked accomodation in Liverpool, but if I made a mistake please let me know so I can try to change all that. You can get back to me at estageraurelien AT yahoo DOT fr

Best wishes,

Aurelien

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

hi aurelien

it is happening in december. i'll have someone email you asap.

matthew

Denis Huber
Denis Huber asked:

Hi Matthew,

really admire your work!
As the recording session already took place is it possible to get access to the Logic files like you mentioned above?

Best Regards
Denis

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

hi denis.
i'm afraid that offer was only for those that went for the 'creates' option. sorry about that.
matthew

nithen naidoo
nithen naidoo asked:

Hi Matthew,

I'm a huge fan of both your music and writing. I cannot make the studio sessions in Liverpool (I'm in South Africa) - but I would like to have the Q&A session with you,... could I pledge for "Herbert Records" and have just the Q&A with you on Skype?

If this is not possible, I understand. I apologise in advance for the "out-of-band" request.

nithen

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

hi nithen.
thanks for asking, that would be fine with me.
matthew

Lisa O
Lisa O asked:

Dear Matthew,
the website says "process nude" was accessible for free.
Best,
Lisa

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

hi lisa
that's right, but that's finished now.
thanks
matthew

Joao Rocha
Joao Rocha asked:

Dear Matthew Herbert,

I have been a fan for a long time and have been considering the "Herbert Records" option.
I was just wondering whether you would have any idea on what time of the year this may be happening and how long in advance this would be booked? Plus, would there be any flexibility to do this as in more than one date I could pick from?

Thank you very much and I am really excited to see, read (and listen?) the result of this book.

Best,
Joao.

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

hi joao
that option has ended in a way because the event it referred to is over. but we are looking to offer a q&a instead. maybe via skype. we'll let you know when we've figured out what we're going to offer instead.
many thanks
matthew

Tony Vanderheyden
Tony Vanderheyden asked:

Hi Matthew,
I supported because I find that if you appreciate art, books, visions one must actively stand up for it. I pledged for you 'reading'. 295 euro is an important amount, but the rubbish, bad food, useless things, a.o. exceeds that amount easily every year. If we want artists to be in our lives, to be able to do their work, we'll have to support them, also in brexittimes ;-)
And If we can make it personal from time to time: we get richer in experiences and knowledge.
So I like to schedule a meeting for 'Herbert reads'. Are the 2 red seats in the Whitechapel Gallery an option (in the coming months)?
Looking Forward.
Tony.

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

hi tony. thank you for your words and your support.
i'm not sure how the rewards system works but i will ask someone from unbound to contact you to arrange the details. am sure whitechapel would be an option.
matthew

Rodrigo Moraes
Rodrigo Moraes asked:

Hello Matthew

Im a big fan and run s mall label, what about the Matthew create to be release on my label?

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

maybe! please email hugh@accidentalrecords.com to talk through the idea....
thank you
matthew

Sebastian Seelmann
Sebastian Seelmann asked:

Just a question, cause I am worried, is the book already finished and delivered, I did not get anything for maybe 4 month?
Thanks

Matthew Herbert
Matthew Herbert replied:

hi sebastian.
thanks for your email. apologies for the delay, but the book is going to be delivered to the editor at the end of january. i'm not sure how long it takes to edit and print from then, but hopefully we can get it to you soon.
thanks for your patience.
matthew

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