Rhythm in loop
Aug 15 2014
Canadian cellist Zoë Keating is one of those success stories that inspire people to quit that boring 9-5 job to pick up an instrument or anything that really matters to them. Keating became a full-time musician in her early 30s by quitting a successful tech job.
Her music, in simpler terms, can be classified as loop-based solo cello work that makes full use of her former life as a tech geek. Using a simple software setup, she weaves together layer after layer of sound that includes both melodic elements as well as rhythms. As she puts all of that together, she creates a mesmerising environment of sonic elements — with a single cello!
Her avant-garde brand of cello-playing creates a landscape of sound quite different from what people traditionally associate with the sound of cello. Keating’s music has a very radical element to it that makes it so addictive. It’s in total contrast to the very mellow role that cello usually plays in classical music. She brings out a raw power to the instrument. Zoë Keating’s fingers move on the cello fret board with a sort of agility that comes after years of training in classical music. All the notes seem disciplined and structured and yet she possesses a certain aggression that can only be associated with a heavy metal musician. There seems to be a kind of anarchy in her music, which makes it such a unique hearing experience.
Keating’s true brilliance lies in her amazing mapping ability that surfaces during her live performances. To be able to keep track of so many layers of sounds and then use it all together to such beautiful effect is the stuff of absolute genius.
Apart from her musical prowess, Keating is also an inspiration for DIY musicians because she self produces all her albums. Keating has sold more than 30,000 copies of her albums, a commendable feat for any musician without a record deal. Through a well-planned out group of websites and series of profiles on social media, she has managed to crowdfund three albums so far and also managed to score background music for many movies in the past few years.
Purely based on playing ability, there are loads of cellists all over the world who are perhaps far better than
Zoë Keating. Some might even say that her technique is flawed. But as a listener her music seems so compelling that such details do not matter when you consider the overall picture.