An Interview with The_Toggle

Q: What is this noise?

A: The Toggle is trying to make an inner, contemplative music. Animals like it. Sometimes it’s like windchimes dreaming. The mind moves.

Q: Dude, that’s heavy [smirks]. Do you use any interesting techniques?

A: Western music, using a ‘tempered’ scale of 12 equal steps, has all these possibilities for harmony, and exploits such things as ‘tension and release’ and ‘progressions’ to create a linear music. It has a ‘plot’. Which is fine in it’s way, but i found that not all music of the world is organized that way. Often there is a root, a tonal center, an ‘Om’ around which the melodic notes are organized. The music tends to be more ‘circular’, which seems better for this type of music. In western music is the ‘whole tone scale’, which divides the octave into six equal parts. This can be nice, and can be ‘rootless’, with no one note dominating. I can (with computers) also divide the octave into FIVE equal parts, and things happen. I have a gong from Vietnam that does not produce one of the 12 standard notes. But i can shift the tuning of my ‘equi-pentatonic’ scale to match it… fretted instruments don’t adapt well, but lap steel and cello do, and i made some deep instruments from old piano strings.

Q: Who is taking care of your cat?

A: What?

Q: [slaps face] I’ll ask the questions.

A: OK.

Q: You do have some unusual instruments…

A: This is a Gangsa or Saron, a ‘metallophone’ from Javanese Gamelan, these gongs are in a standard pentatonic tuning, used in western and world music, and derived from the ‘harmonic series’, some other gongs and cymbals, hand drums and percussion. This is a copy of the ‘Coral Sitar’ used in 60s pop songs, and this is a Handsonic, an electronic hand percussion synth…

Q: Talk about rhythm.

A: No.

Q: [Uses secret interrogation technique] Talk!

A: AAAAAAAAH! OK, OK. There was a composer in New York called Moondog who spoke of “Snake Time” which has interesting time signatures, sometimes layered i think, and shifting accents. Like a cartoon train with angular wheels. As opposed to the relentless four-on-the floor pounding of today’s ‘dance’ music. Voomta-voomta-voomta. Makes me ill, it hurts. Good for moving the booty, perhaps, but not the mind, the spirit. Can I go now?

Q: Soon, soon. Speak of your approach to time.

A: Well, music by its nature has a time linearity not found in, say, photography-

Q: But in film-

A: Whatever. But there are things in music (and ‘sound art’ in general) one can do to mess with that, get more flux outta the space-time continuum. Like repeating a phrase (as the poet Prince said, “there’s joy in repetition.”). Even if repeated exactly, it’s different because you heard it before. You could slow it down, speed it up, play it backwards. Record a kitten mewing. Slowed down, it becomes a horny cougar. My tiny bar chimes become Tibetan bowls. And overdubbing: now you’re playing and improvising in real time with something you played in the past. The ‘second player’ (you) has heard what the ‘first player’ (also you) did, but not what the ‘third player’ (guess who) will do in the future…

Q: One more question…

A: [tries to escape]



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The Toggle is Jim Spiri, sometimes with guest musicians. I play computer, keyboards, Roland HandSonic percussion unit, Ashbory bass, modified western electric sitar, Hawaiian lap steel vina/"Pete Townshend tambura", gamelan instruments, gongs, tabla, dumbek, etc. There are elements of world music, minimalism, ambient music, etc. Often using non-western scales and tunings. The music also has meditative and healing properties. Sound and video on . Available for live performance for receptions and other events, therapy/healing, belly dance...
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