Zoe Keating and her Quantum Cello

14 10 2009

zoe keating

As some of you are familiar (either by an earlier post on this site or on your own), Radiolab is a podcast focused on exploring everyday scientific topics and delving into them deeper, make them more complicated but more interesting.

Although not a recent Radiolab piece, Quantum Cello highlights Zoe Keating, a cellist. Although trained in the classical style, Zoe considers herself a “rock-starry cellist”, saying that if she had played any other instrument such as a bass guitar or drums, she would be in a rock band in that manner. It just so happens, however, that she plays the cello.

This piece does not provide Zoe in a rock band. She is instead in a San Francisco studio with our Radiolab host Jad, performing solo pieces for him while being interviewed. The awesome thing about Zoe’s playing is that she uses loops recorded while she is playing to create single tracks on which to layer multiple more tracks simultaneously, much like Ben Harper and others do on their guitars. She integrates unique sounds such as the tapping of the cello body to provide a percussion sound, or uses the string of her bow on the body as well creating yet another sound.

Zoe describes this method to making music as a “DJ Scratch approach, making electronic sounds with a 17th century instrument.” Put the tracks together, and you have a one-woman symphony of which many parts, can’t be written in musical language. In the end, as Jad says to Zoe, “it’s neat to see that you’re funneling this slightly past version of yourself into the present, over and over,” making the music and its artist “kind of quantum.”

Click on this link to open another window with the full Quantum Cello episode…and enjoy.  RadioLab – Quantum Cello full

Visit Zoe’s official website here.




One response

11 03 2010
Matt Stevens

Shes amazing – love the way she layers stuff – awesome

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