Today, at Bang on a Can, I heard Alvin Lucier perform a digital version of “I Am Sitting in a Room,” part one of which you can hear in the above video (the original recording was made in 1969). Lucier pronounced the famous words into his very live mic, and then sat there, motionless, as James Fei manipulated the digital delay for about thirty minutes.
As a listener, I have learned that my listening experience is better if I sit in a symmetrical position. I also have learned that I listen best with my eyes closed, because I am highly susceptible to visual stimuli.
So, I gathered my feet in and I placed my hands on my knees — the meditative position is not very different from a pose of reverence/prayer — and I closed my eyes and listened to this piece. And it was really, really, really cool. In digital version, this piece had some high notes in it that are absent from the original analog recording. The highs sounded like those Tibetan bells, tingsha, that, when struck together, create a very clearly reverberating high tone. And underneath it all, the words. Although I could keep track of the spoken statement for many rounds, eventually the words disappeared and all we were left with was the natural reverberation.