September 28, 2011

"The apprentice and the sorcerer" (part two). An old Italian article on the Third Ear Band.

Here's the second part  of the rare Italian stuff on the Thirds written by journalist Maurizio Baiata  and published on "Ciao 2001" magazine on December 24th, 1973.
Thanx researcher Daniele Briganti (read him at we can read what one of the best (at that time) underground Italian music magazine wrote about the band, with common places, gross infos, cheap philosophy and some brilliant insights...

"(...) Black misterious pages, a draw full of strange  and gelid signs, a music as a viaticum to the acoustic Hell: this is the Third Ear Band of "Alchemy", first record experience, first album thrown out in whirpools of the unknown in music, nothing of "dark" or the classic gastronomic flavour as like as Black Sabbath or Black Widow: strange stories of past and cruel times open in the grooves, collocation of historical order let you know how the group mainly persue a right rediscovery of the English and Scottish black folk music, with temporal movements limited to XI and XII century, with the rhythmic outstretched to rediscovery of cults dear to Ossian, then sung by William Blake and the other sepulcher poets. But there's a background mood that seem to miss: with the coldness of music contents something of indefinable is leaping in front of eyes, maybe that love for nature, that frantic order that rules human things.

"Alchemy" is a complex and difficult work, complete. (...) The basic sound has its rise in a monodic pulse most of the time created by the percussions, then it enriches with the strings and oboe, both  played on patterns of an haunting and perfect iteration of rhythms: the picture will seem more clear if compared to Terry Riley's compositions, where the sound carpet, build with one or more incessantly repeated notes, is coloured with continuous superimpositions of synth and organ...

After some very strong (and sharable) observations about the Italian music at that time, Baiata analyzes TEB's second album, described as "the high point of their melodic and modal issue... obsessive, vitalistic, the sublimation of static and monodic music thrown on the lines of highest multiformity, the more charming and medieval rhythmic arcaism ever listened to.
For the author, "Earth" is "the mythical canto of joy, of creation's beauty, of human beasts and not, of the horse that neigh, of the rhythm of flower's growth, so misterious, and we have, with the Third Ear Band, an interpretation,  an all European translation in harmonic terms - easy, linear, very sweet. 
Among group's writings, these are the best lines, an absolutely supernatural composition, where also Riley bows...".

 About "Macbeth", Baiata states that "it's not the work of ripeness, it's not the logical end of contacts with the  band's extrasensorial music, but another little step along the road gotten to exceed the pattern of normal tonality, to destroy criteria of symmetry and geometry in force in England since the age of the Beatles ".
He claims the record, born under the soundtrack ambiguity, "has many static moments, even if played by first order musicians".
On the band's split, "happened just after "Macbeth" (but we know Sweeney and Minns played until 1975...), Baiata says "Third Ear Band's music existed just time before to be created, it was on the air, into the dreams of who came before, into the nightmares of every clever man, on the artistic measure of Self and on his power of theatrical performance of life's things".

Note for the Italian readers:
if you're interested to read the original Italian article please contact me through my e-mail to receive a copy in PDF format.

no©2011 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

September 22, 2011


Just yesterday this archive, born by chance on December 1st, 2009, has reached
50.000 pages  

Thanks to all the readers during these two years have contacted  

September 18, 2011

Lost TEB video broadcasts out in October!

Lost Third Ear Band video broadcasts from 1970 will be distributed on DVD next October 3rd. The only one known circulating in those years was "Hyde Park Raga", included on a "Beat Club" compilation (read at
Titled "Third Ear Band. The Lost Broadcasts" is produced by Gonzo (catalogue number  HST069DVD) and it will cost around ten pounds (11-12 euros)...

This is the commercial published on some Web sites:
"The Lost Broadcasts are a series of DVDs featuring performances that have rarely been seen since the original transmission on German television, in some cases more than forty years ago. Some of the artists featured within the series are legendary and these “Lost” performances will be a fine addition to any music fans collection. The series covers a number of styles and genres however all of the performances are of a high calibre. (...)

At the time of these performances which were recorded from September 1970, the band consisted of Glen Sweeney, Paul Minns, Denim Bridges and Paul Buckmaster, who would go onto work with Elton John amongst many other high profile artists. Three pieces were filmed on the 11th of September including the unreleased ‘Hyde Park’. The other two tracks were ‘David Grocking’ and ‘In D’, which is thought to be ‘Raga in D’. ‘Druid Grocking’ was played during a John Peel Top Gear session in the summer of 1969 and is an extended workout of the song ‘Druid One’ from the ‘Alchemy’ album. ‘In D’ is a piece originally recorded at the sessions for the debut album ‘Alchemy’.

The band returned to the studio to film once more on the 26th of September and this time performed another slightly shorter version of ‘Hyde Park’. Third Ear Band would go on to record a very famous soundtrack in 1972 for the Roman Polanski film ‘Macbeth’...".

Just a doubt about this project is related to the TEB line-up, because we know that on "Hyde Park Raga" ("Beat Club" TV programme) was involved also Benjamin Cartland...
But anyway we will see...

[Thanx for this signalling to Ed P.]

no©2011 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

September 17, 2011

"The apprentice and the sorcerer" (part one). An old Italian article on the Third Ear Band.

Thanks to the Italian researcher Daniele Briganti (read him at we have here a very rare article on the Third Ear Band published on the Italian magazine "Ciao 2001" issue 51 in late 1973 (December 24th). 
Titled "L'apprendista e lo stregone" ["The apprentice and the sorcerer"] and written by Maurizio Baiata, it feels the effect of the times and the lack of informations press had in those days - between myth and fantasies... but with some brilliant insights.
This is the part one of a two-parts file.

For Baiata Third Ear Band's music is "greatly interior", a music that "finds a bigger reason to be in Eastern land, the world of notes and harmonies, and colours, and breaths, and delirious, all Western things that are simply the epidermic semplification of an inconscious  and forgotten reality kept in life by the impenetrable Eastern world. But Third Ear Band doesn't play music as like as Quintessence or the Mahavishnu. We are here on a totally different level: where it does exist a preconceived and gratified harmony by epidermic European and American canons, the group reaches to dissolve it in virtue of an approach to that measures of preconceived music in the natural order of life's animated things - plants, men, thoughts or trees".

"The third ear
About the categorization of human psychic opportunities, Western culture shows very far from that Eastern's one: where medical, psychological and introspective techniques can define just a little portion of a very huge and mysterious area of knowledge, Chineses, Japanes, Indians show exactly (with cryptic ways) the contact points with the Known and the Unknown.
The five senses find a total universalization, signification deeply linked with the mind, with religion, with the man's intrinsic spirituality; and spatial and time dimensions loose their basic incomprehensibility connected  to the scientifically correct study of nature. In the meanwhile the development and evolution of the Eastern sound tecniques show us clearly the opportunity of an interpenetration of art and spirit...(...)"

"First complete example of externalization of these principles about musical studies made in Europe is the Third Ear Band, where the etymology of "third ear" goes to discover an absolutely unknown sound dimension - interior and occult - filtered through the study of the human and the sound expression.
Of course the third ear is that unseen, hidden who knows where, but real and present in us: it is the organ with that we perceive sound vibration, we enjoy the music, we get it, we get inside it, we totally penetrate it; for this reason band's music leaves very few to spectacular and epidermic side, it unrelentingly get inside to meanders of "unknown in music", touching so the vertex of a sound great gestures...".

"(...) Third Ear Band is a group "sui generis" at all. It's beyond comparision, even if related to the English folk revival - an extraordinary brainchild...". 

At this point the author analizes  TEB records (talking about "Egyptian tablas" about Sweeney's instrument...), quoting the "Alchemy" album notes, and reporting a statement of Paul Buckmaster (with no quotation of the source): "When the band was formed, I was following some specific forms of contemporary music very near to the electro-acoustic TEB's line-up was doing, but at the end I joined the band just as a friend of Sweeney because I didn't like some their things. Music was origined from occult pratices, nowdays very popular in England: of course they wasn't black masses or other kind of oddities, just a deep study of the esoteric and fantastic history of the world, something of serious, almost religious and scientific that the musicians of the band was living in their lifes and into the music, but that I wasn't involved into: most of all I was interested to the monstrous technique of the guys, their furious eagerness of research and experiment, their courage, while to live they was forced to teach and to play often in tiny clubs and for audience full of freaks, spiritualists, disciples of various philosophy of occult".
(end of part one)

Note for the Italian readers:
if you're interested to read the original Italian article please contact me through my e-mail to receive a copy in PDF format.

 no©2011 Luca Ferrari

September 07, 2011

Italian composer STEFANO GIANNOTTI talks about Third Ear Band's music...

Stefano Giannotti (born 1963) is an Italian composer, author, director, guitarist and performer. He studied composition with Pietro Rigacci and he has been the assistant of the famous Alvin Curran on “Crystal Psalms" and "Tufo Muto". Between 1983 and 1990 he performed in several European countries with the chamber music group Trio Chitarristico Lucchese (an acoustic  guitar trio) and formed his first group called Ensemble Il Teatro del Faro. In 1997 he started a collaboration with the Italian choreographer Roberto Castello and between 1998 and 1999 he lived in Berlin. On 2000 he has been guest of the Kuenstlerhaus Schloss Wiepersdorf in Brandeburg and on 2002 he has been invited in Worpswede by the Ministerium of the Niedersachsen. The same year he has won the Karl-Sczuka-Preis (SWR, Baden-Baden) with his work "Il tempo cambia" and on 2007 he has got for the second time the Karl-Sczuka-Preis for his radio-piece "Gealogica".

On the present day he's playing with a new group, OTEME (Osservatorio delle Terre Emerse).
His repertoire ranges from performance, radio-art, dance theatre to chamber music, orchestral scores and songs.
Landscape, memory, life cycles, voices of people, languages are some of the main themes developed in Giannotti's work. His compositions have been performed in festivals, theatres, museums around the world and his collaborations included works for radios and TVs. 
With one of his groups, Vaga Orchestra, he played a new arranged version of TEB’s “Water” from their 1970 second studio album.
From the Eighties he declares his deep appreciation for the Third Ear Band's music.

We knew 25 years ago at the time of the Ensemble Il Teatro del Faro, when I was involved with the management of the reformed TEB. You declared your great interest for their music: can you tell us how it's happened your encounter with the TEB's music?
"I've known TEB's music when I was 17 at the secondary school. In my classroom there was some friends of mine not studying music so deeply as I did but they had musical knowledge much more than me - they knew bands and artists I didn't know - I never heard about them. At that time  I was listening to Genesis, David Bowie, Gong, Tangerine Dream, Van Der Graaf Generator and Mike Oldfield. They told me about Zappa (I didn't love him at the time), Soft Machine (the same), Henry Cow, Hatfield & The North, they made me know Robert Wyatt - a group of depth artists they was probably reading on some music magazines. Among these meetings there was also Brian Eno, Philip Glass and the Third Ear Band.
At the beginning, as for all these kind of music, they bored me, but after all through my personal peregrinations I've already bumped into La Monte Young and Igor Stravinski...
The Third Ear Band was a great discovering, I liked very much their approach to a kind of music that remembered me the Tangerine Dream and in the same time the popular theatre: I loved much the oboe, the ancestry of their proposal, maybe I was bored by the lenght and the repetitiveness of their compositions, but I got use to it quite soon.
Of course I had some disputes with my classroom mates about their music: I loved more "Macbeth", but the critics stated the other two albums was better, so my mates liked more that records.
There was also the pleasure for reasearching the records: infact in those days it was very difficult to find their albums in a record shop, and for that reason we did lend ourself one of two of them and we take them for many months..."

                                    OTEME  -"I was a mill"/CadutaMassi

Beyond to have included TEB music on some of your repertories, how much of their experience has gone in your music, about the sound research and the art of composition?
"The Third Ear Band has caratherized the sound of many works composed by me between 1991 and 1999. The Ensemble Il Teatro del Faro was made up with oboe/English horn, cello and electric guitar, with some other instruments as Indian organ, pan flute, ocarina, objects and toys. The music we played was quite different from the Third Ear Band's, but sometimes it contained the same spirit of improvisation and the love for that kind of sounds; maybe it was less similar about the hestetics, because, even if it was charaterized by improvisations, the most of my works is composed, not improvised".

Which are your compositions directly influenced by the TEB sound?
"The tune more directly influenced by it could be "La recita" [The play] from the suite titled "Ritratti, pagine e improvvisazioni su Amleto" [Portraits, pages, improvisations on Hamlet]. In this tune, electric guitar and English horn make a rhytmic sequence quite similar to the Sweeney's hand drums, and the cello sounds a melody, on a viola's extention, and at the end it improvises. Maybe it can recall "The Egyptian Book of The Dead", maybe more "Macbeth". Another tune surely is "Tema dei campi" [Fields' theme] that at last, after 20 years and a lot of different versions, this year it'll be recorded on a CD by my new group OTEME. On this composition the teponatzli, a percussion instrument similar to an ethnic marimba, play the continuous rhytmn, the oboe makes the melody, the clarinet does a rhytmic/melodic contracpuntual to the oboe and sometimes piccolo's phrases insert on it; the harmony is build by synth and electric bass. One of the first versions of the track (maybe composed in 1990) sounded as "Achemy", but globally my tune is more complex, because more contrapuntal.
There are some influences here and there on other  compositions I've written: the last one is from 2010, an experimental video I made in Poland ("The Walbrzych Notebook": see at on a sequence of the soundtrack electric guitar is played with a bow, and I remember just before to compose this tune I used for the film the "Abelard & Heloise" soundtrack.
I liked so much the combination that I stopped immediately to listen to it to avoid the risk to become prisoner of it and don't be able to compose some of mine. But at the end I composed a tune that remember in some way the Third Ear Band atmosphere."

           Stefano Giannotti - "Corali III-IV"

How would you describe TEB music from a composer point of view?
"A music out of time and out of any label. As the music composed by Giacinto Scelsi, John Cage and Morton Feldman. These composers are very up-to-date in any age because they don't belong to a specific time, they are out of format. I've been so impressed to listening the TEB again after a very long time and compare them with other bands using the ethnic element in their work - as the Oregon, for example... TEB is unique, they don't smell of ECM or World Music, their semplicity is so disarming that one cannot apply the same critical categories as to a specific school of thought. It would be as lump everything together.
I can't labelled TEB music as psichedelia or etno-music, or minimal, because at the end none of this genres sounds as they play..."

Observing the condition of contemporary music (I mean his level of development), do you think TEB music is still up-to-date? Why?
Surely it's a music still very up-to-date, and it's shame (I'm polemic here!) you can hardly convince some young homo-sapiens to stop just for five minutes and listen to it (generally as for all sophisticated music). Periodically I do workshop about guide to listen to contemporary music and the Third Ear Band has a place of honour there. A  lot of contemporary ethno-jazz is so predictable until the first notes... it's not the same with the Third Ear Band, maybe because the musicians wasn't  so great virtuous, never rivers of notes as Paco De Lucia, but power of concentration, breath and sound. In some ways, as I stated, I find a parallelism with Feldman, Cage and above all Scelsi.

                                                      Giacinto Scelsi - "Trio for strings I-IV"

Sure, if you avoid any labels you bore the society and fatally you sink into oblivion.
Years ago I tried to arrange "Water" for Vaga Orchestra, an ensemble of students of music. The band was composed by two flutes, tenor sax, violin, keyboards, four guitars, Indian organ, bass and drums. Arranging the tune, I decided to round up for semitone every descending or growing note of Ursula Smith's cello. The harmonic result has been very interesting: a continuous stream of consonant and discordant chords perfectly tied to each other, creating a speech with sense in a harmonic point of view, never ordinary, that obliges you to listen the music until the end of the track. I never thought the cello was improvised on "Water", and I'm not still completely persuaded of it".

Visit Stefano Giannotti's Web site at:

                                                                    Stefano Giannotti - "Dal recinto"

                                                                           OTEME - "Palude del Diavolo"

 no©2011 Luca Ferrari