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Steve Buchanan: Music by dancing

Musica, Personaggi di Daniele Votta

1 Gennaio 2020

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Steve Buchanan has the rare distinction of having made a name for himself professionally in two fields, music and dance respectively.
He has been what is presently called a transdisciplinary or multi disciplinary artist since the 1970’s.


Heterodoxy in music… What does it mean for you?
Relative to that words meaning and its ecclesiastical root, it represents for me petty minded thought, short sightedness, and judgemental intolerance.
I say lets be done with priests, religions, acolytes, and above all canonical stipulations which are derived from misunderstood and misplaced manichean philosophy.
We have witnessed through history the sad results of this flawed use of the brain and nothing is worse than a new convert to the unorthodox whether it be religion, political or art movements or music.
In music one sees the same closed minded thinking as in any religious or political movement.
Yet that is the precisely where it has not reason nor place.
One of my favorite quotes about this word was from an interview of Jimi Hendrix on the Dick Cavett show when asked about his unorthodox treatment of the «Star Spangled Banner. Unorthodox? No man I thought it was beautiful, but there you go!»


Steve Buchanan musician and dancer


Which are the three main points of reference and inspiration for your music?
Emphatically the primary reference and inspiration of my music is the great river of african-american music and its myriad representations.
Dance and movement forms in general and of course, literature as I am an incessant reader and have been since a young child much more so than say a music listener.
But in reality I agree with Cecil Taylor when asked a similar question that it could be the food you ate this or that day, what you drank, stubbing your toe, the weather, who you slept with, or did’nt/a building you saw, a smell, a memory…


Do you think that everything is already written (for music) or are there still avenues to explore?
I think there is certainly much redundancy, this is in no small part due to the media revolution we are in the midst of. However I believe we have just begun, as long as their are many people or even a few, there will be avenues and dimensions to explore.
I envision no forseeable end, and that for me is one of the shining rays of hope and light in our increasingly adverse envirorement.

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Steve Buchanan musician and dancer


Among contemporary artistic projects, which ones do you advise to keep an eye on?
Aside from Mine ha-ha, no in all seriouness rather than specific acts’ I would say that the most fertile areas to watch are those in which diverse medias and forms are deliberately combining, we see this also in science, medecine etc. with astonishing results.
This most welcome evolution hopefully will eradicate cartesian rationalism once and for all. So we can finally embrace reality. With true empathy. A further advice I would give is to avoid any ideologism, art form or person who claims purity of purpose.



What is your 2nd Line?
2nd Line is an interactive percussion unit, which allows for full integration of dance and music. A musician can dance any percussion sound and/or rhythmic ensemble; conversely a dancer the same. 2nd Line is the 8th generational form of Bucussion, my invention, I designed both instrument and accompanying techniques.
The present design is capable of any percussion sound: battery, conga, tabla, tympani, gongs, etc. As well it is of course compatible with all present tech mediums, and can be used with any interface visual as well as sonor. A prime example presently being the use of programmable LEDs. Although the sounds are represented by digital means, no simple drum sequences, or just push a button sample work are utilized as primary expression.
I love to dance, and that means work and sweat!


Can you confide us a dream (personal or professional) which would you like to make real (for 2017)?
An honest answer to an honest question. I would like to see finally in 2017 the recognition and renumeration for the hard and innovative work I have done all these years. A small part of that naturally is egoism (like all artists whether they admit that or not) but the greater part is simply practical, it is an occupation after all. And as such should be properly paid and not with silly romantic aphorisms or artistic sentiment but with neutral cash like every other worker who does any other job.

Unrealistic perhaps, but you did emphasize the word dream.


Daniele Votta


Here the Italian interview.

Steve Buchanan is born in Philadelphia, United States. Based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Early studies: Pat Martino, Marshall Allen, Elliott Levin, Bobby Zankel, Milford Graves, Denise Bey, Ife Tayo Das Sol.
Intensive movement studies: Ballet, Cunningham, Graham, Limon, Haitian, Afro-Cuban, Guinean, Nigerian, Congolese, Senegalese.
He presented his first multi-disciplinary work on a grant from Ile-Ife muesam in Philadelphia in 1977 Cybernetic Primal Therapy (6 musicians, 8 drummers, 6 dancers, 23 radios, 2 play back loops).
He has also been a player of what is in current venacular called NOISE MUSIC since the 1970’s.
As well as playing alto sax and guitar, he is also the inventor of the 2nd Line Tranz Danz Floor. A digital interface instrument on which he creates music by dancing. With this instrument he has performed worldwide fascinating audiences young and old alike on every continent.