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The human voice

October 25, 2009

Last night’s concert by Iva Bittová was superb. The Czech / Roma violinist and vocalist was performing at the Polish Combatants Hall as part of Toronto’s X Avant festival. Bittova’s voice is a magnificent thing, moving between lullaby and glossolalia, between gypsy song and sound poetry, between amplification and not-amplification (traveling towards and well away from the microphone to produce strange swells of sound).

Bittová’s songs channel a whole history of human folk song but also music from the animal world, and were played with great skill and inventiveness (so what?) but also (ah!) a lot of warmth, wit and comic timing. Warmer still, there was also a guest appearance from Bittová’s son, a solemn young chap playing the grand piano before heroically overcoming youthful embarrassment to join his mother for a little kazoo duet. Chris Cutler‘s opening set was a clever arrangement of sounds schizophonically wrenched from their percussive sources, but while the pleasures in Cutler’s music are all about amplification and alteration, there was a playfulness compelling unmediated in Iva Bittová’s performance.

Here’s Iva performing a few years ago in Prague:

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Toon Smalt permalink
    October 27, 2009 5:07 pm

    Mr. Tiger
    Thanks so much for the cd. I played 3 songs last sunday on The Worried Waltz. The playlist only shows 2 because I’m not supposed to play more than 2 in a row from an album. I like the cover more that your unnaturally handsome previous cover. On the air I mentioned how I really like your unique vocal delivery. Your voice sort of sounds like it might be coming from the world’s most nervous person. I mean this as a compliment. I am always looking for unique singers. I saw Iva in NY at The Bang On A Can Marathon, she is most fun.

  2. October 27, 2009 7:46 pm

    Ah yes, I was listening to the progamme! But I had to put the speakers on mute when I came on. Anyway I’ve always liked this bit in a Leonard Cohen song where he sings “let’s all get nervous”, which I think is a brilliant invitation to extend.
    I’m glad you played a load of Broadcast / Focus Group too!

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