Barry Chabala (b.1961, Passaic, NJ) Guitarist who’s playing is informed as much by the history of Blues, R&B and Rock as it is by Derek Bailey, John Cage and Morton Feldman. Often mixing equal parts melodic invention and atonal free play, Barry has more recently moved to playing more reduced, sharply focused music.
Over the last several years he has performed and recorded extensively the works of Wandelweiser composers Michael Pisaro and Antoine Beuger among others, and has released recordings on several labels including Erstwhile, Winds Measure, Copy For Your Records, Gravity Wave and his own Roeba Records.
1. What do you remenber about your first guitar?
My first guitar was a no – name acoustic. My first electric guitar was a Sano that was sort of a Jazzmaster knock-off. While not good, as first instruments often are, they were adequate and got me started.
My first solo album, influenced by and dedicated to the late Derek Bailey. 2005
2. Why do you need music?
Music to me is like air. I couldn’t live without it, both listening to it and making it. Several years ago I tried to walk away from playing and that didn’t work out so well.
3. So, why do you love the guitar?
The guitar has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The icon of rock music. It’s perfect for me to express myself and also extremely versatile. I can play most anything I can think of (so far).
4. Which work of your own are you most proud of, and why?
That’s a difficult question. I am very proud of everything I’ve been involved with. I suppose there are a few that stand out in my mind for various reasons – Black, White, Red, Green, Blue (Voyelles) was a pretty big undertaking in terms of learning and recording that expansive piece and then what Michael did with Voyelles I think is fantastic. Antoine Beuger’s ‘un lieu pour etre deux’ is up there too. Whenever I play with Ben Owen, something pretty special seems to happen and this recording captures that nicely. And then maybe ‘Ananke’ with Gosia Winter. I really love playing with vocalists in an improvised setting and Gosia is wonderful.
5. How would you define "silence"?
Space for the environment to contribute.
6. What's the importance of technique in art, in your opinion?
Technique serves the artist and allows the vision to be realized.
7. What’s the difference between a good guitar and a bad guitar?
A good guitar allows the player’s technique to speak clearly. It’s a very personal thing involving feel, tone and aesthetics.
8. How do you experience time? How do you experiment with time?
A good piece of music will let time stand still (or move along unknowingly). The best part of playing is getting lost in the piece and not thinking about it.
9. What quality do you admire most in a musician?
10. A valuable advice that someone has gifted to you in the past?
Given to me by many ... less is more.
11. What's your fetish device in the sound chain?
Hmmm... lets see. I don’t often use pedals, as long as the mics are doing their job I’m fine, I’m not a pickup changer – that’s a rabbit hole I’ve avoided so far!, I do have a few favorite amps that I find it hard to play without, I’d have to say strings are my biggest fetish at this point. I am really conscious of how they feel under my fingers and the tone I’m getting off the string. Given that everything else is right, the guitar is set up well and is sounding good that day, the amp is set right and the tubes and doing their thing that day, my fingers on the strings are what I’m most concerned with, and the pick if I’m using one.
Photo: Jackie Chabala
12. What dead artist would you like to have collaborated with?
13. What’s your latest project about?
My latest project is a duo with Alan Jones called ‘Steerage’. Not sure exactly what it’s about yet, but it started out as a guitar duo. It’s expanded a little since then.
2013: Bruno Duplant, Barry Chabala, Lee Noyes: Juste Après la Nuit. [CON-V]
2013 Presque rien. Rhizome.s.
Bruno Duplant asked a long list of contributors to actualize the phrase "presque rien" in two minutes or less, assembling the resulting works alphabetically on this CD compilation, with contributors including Barry Chabala, Bryan Eubanks, Dominic Lash, Ferran Fages, Keith Rowe, Pedro Chambel..
2012 Antoine Beuger performed by Chabala / Lash / Owen: S'approcher s'eloigner s'absenter. [ERSTWHILE]
Ben Owen (electronics), Barry Chabala (guitar) and Dominic Lash premier Wandelweiser founder Antoine Beuger's work "s'approcher s'eloigner s'absenter" recorded at erstwhile's AMPLIFY 2011 at The Stone, NYC.
2012 Bruno Duplant/Barry Chabala - La Nuit [ROEBA].
Three very attractive, long-range collaborations between Duplant and Chabala, All touch on the drone with the first perhaps being most clearly in that area.
A gentle, thoughtful work, concluding a very enjoyable recording.
2012 Chabala / Jones / Martin / Mukarji / Nakamura: Unbalanced In (Unbalanced Out) [ANOTHER TIMBRE].
Six musicians from around the world (Chabala / Jones / Martin / Mukarji / Nakamura) created this 50-minute track over the course of a year by collaborating and file-sharing online.
2011 Jez Riley French - Trammels [ENGRAVED GLASS]
2011 Beuger, Antoine (Chabala / Owen): Un lieu pour etre deux. [COPY FOR YOUR RECORDS]
Guitarist Barry Chabala joins Ben Owen on synth tones and field recordings to realize Wandelweiser Group founder Antoine Beuger's subtle composition "un lieu pour etre deux".
Conceptual guitarist Barry Chabala joins forces with field recording artist and french horn player Anne Guthrie for an extended improvisation.
2011 Winter, Gosia & Barry Chabala: Ananke [ROEBA].
Avant folk artist Gosia Winter and guitarist Barry Chabala in a transcontinental collaboration suggested by Winter to bring both artists' sense of improvisation into new carefully crafted compositions.
2011 Theme and incidental music for Alastair Wilson's international radio program Admirable Restraint
2011 Asleep, street, pipes, tones, with Michael Pisaro, Katie Porter [GRAVITY WAVE] 004
An investigation of the sounding properties of pipes and streets interspersed with a duo for bass clarinet and electric guitar in the form of ten three-minute episodes.
2011 Close constellations and a drum on the ground (Michael Pisaro w/Greg Stuart & Barry Chabala) [GRAVITY WAVE] 003
Michael Pisaro's composition consists of the alternation of sedimentary layers of low percussion samples in slow rotation, and clusters of slowly modulating high sine waves pierced by bowed crotales.
2011 v-p v-f is v-n cs compilation series
C50 cassette... many, many 1 minute pieces by just as many artists.
2010 The Isolde scores [Engraved Glass]
V/A playing the photo score "isolde 1-4" by Jez Riley French.
2010 Black, whitel, red, green, blue (voyelles) with Michael Pisaro [WINDS MEASURE RECORDINGS]
Limited edition cassett. Guitarist Barry Chabala's interpretation of composer Pisaro's piece, instructing the performer on structure and pitch but allowing the precise timing and sound to the player; plus a reworking of Chabala's recording taking advantage of cassette hiss and sine tones.
2010 Unter Eichen with Michael Pisaro [ROEBA].
A breakthrough piece for me in terms of space and the use of silence. Now a Limited Edition Roeba release.
2009 The Shade and The Squint with Lee Noyes [ROEBA].
2009 Undercurrents with Daniel Jones [ROEBA].
Brighton, UK turntable/electronics improvisor Daniel Jones and the American guitarist Barry Chabala meet for an album of ringing and beautiful lowercase sound.
2009 The 4th I HATE MUSIC compilation
Barry Chabala. Radio Quartet 1
2009 Only [Harmony Series #17] [Compost and Height]
Several versions of this Pisaro piece by various artists,
compiled by Compost and Height.
2009 An unrhymed chord. [CONFRONT].
a realization for 25 acoustic guitars, stretches out over an exhaustive though not unwarranted sixty-five minutes, twenty-five guitars piling onto the piece, forcing a meditative and patient blend of overtones, fizzing metallic vibrations and intermittent, harp-like string plucks.
2009 Illuminati with percussionist Lee Noyes [ROEBA].
Duo recording with percussionist Lee Noyes and guitarist Barry Chabala playing electric, a mix of out percussion and expansive yet understated guitar work.
2008 FILTER - Massimo Magee Solo - and with Barry Chabala. A computer piece tacked on to the end of this release by Massimo Magee takes his recording and creates the ADD version.
2008 Vanessa Rossetto and Barry Chabala - Viola and City
A duo project with Austin sound artist Vanessa Rossetto. Taking her beautiful portrait of NYC "Viola and City" and feeding a ChucK program B.C. had been working on, created something new. here you get both, vanessa's original piece and our duo. net/record label Compost and Height is also a souce of lots of amazing music.
2008 Imperfect silence - cadavre esquis compilation created by Phil Hargreaves. FREE DOWNLOAD.
2008 Various artists - "Hand Rolled Oblivion". Includes a trio with Gosia Basinska & Lee Noyes from the Cadavre Esquis project.
2008 I hate music compilation
Includes a duo piece with guitarist matt sekel entitled "Desert Dessert Revised" along with TONS of other great music in MP3 & FLAC formats
Two CD set, designed to be played on two CD players (or MP3 players etc) simultaneously, with both machines in shuffle mode, making each play unique. Available as free downloads or a limited number of handmade CD copies.
2007 "Oswald Contemplates His Existence"
is #2 in the Oswald series of guitar solos. Freejazz.org sampler Vol. 2.
2007 I like to PLAY
Duo studio recordings with Bass Clarinet/Trumpet master Matt Lavelle.
2007 The Philadelphia Company - First Meeting
A plater, a teacher & a drummer walk into a rehersal room... parts 1-5
First recording of this new project. The Philadelphia Company consists of (for this first meeting) Heath Watts on soprano sax, Dan Pell on drums & B.C.. It will be a core group of players + guests playing on a regular basis in and around Philadelphia.
2007 I Hate Music Compilation "Oswald's Meditation (a guitar solo)"
First volume of long distance improvisations. This featuring Arizona sound artist & pianist Glenn Weyant.
2005 An Experiment In Blind Chaos Group Theory Free DADA Coincidence Volume One.
A mail collaboration with Glenn Weyant, Mike Yarrish, Phil Hargreaves & Bill Marconi. Available as a free download here either MP3 or Lossless FLAC files.
2005 Acoustic Guitar
First solo guitar cd, newly remastered in 2008 with a bonus track. Solo pieces recorded to honor Derek Bailey, plus a bonus tracks with vocalists Melissa Fathman and Matt Pass. Reissued in BANDCAMP.
1994 A.MICA (3) Live Sound
Cassette release of live recordings from A.MICA BUNKER in NYC. Contains a trio with vocalists Matt Pass & Melissa Fathman. B.C. plays clarinet. Recorded 04/18/93. OOP
1993 Hail/Snail How to Live With a Tiger
Classic album from Azalia Snail & Susanne Lewis. B.C. played winds on this. Available from Sedmental
1993 Passed Normal Vol 6 &7
Compilation, B.C. plays winds & metals on 1 track - a trio with Mike Hovancek & John Hajeski. OOP