San Francisco Tape Music Festival: Show Preview

Jonty Harrison
Alison Warne
Jonty Harrison

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The San Francisco Tape Music Festival plays Friday, Jan. 7, through Sunday, Jan. 9, at Fort Mason Center's Southside Theater. 8 p.m., $15 per night, $8 underemployed, $30 festival pass; www.sfsound.org.

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Those lamenting the loss of real-time action in live music, and those who celebrate the limitless wonders of sampling and computer instrumentation, ought to appreciate tape musicians. Long story short: Before tapes, there were few ways to easily record and play back sounds and music to audiences in a consistent manner. After tapes made this possible, experimental composers and musicians added them to live performances as either a substitute for a "real" instrument, or a new sound altogether. Thanks to preservationist groups like the San Francisco Tape Music Collective, the medium has avoided the fate of the dodo; the group has even started an annual festival that draws the world's most involved tape composers to perform in a dark theater surrounded by 16 speakers, helping push the art form forward. This year's headliner is surround-sound diffusion master Jonty Harrison, whose works from 1982 to 2004 will get the retrospective treatment.

 
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