Marc Weidenbaum, of Disquiet.com and the Disquiet Junto, recently posted this lovely piece of self-perpetuating ambient music that he came across on the Weekly Beats website. Weidenbaum posted this under the title “The Invisible Hand of Music.”
This reminded me of other ways invisible hands can make music, including the hands that write music after John Cage succeeded in “suppressing the composer’s will,” and the hand that writes what Steve Reich’s called “process music” (this piece strikes me as a spiritual sibling to process music, even though it sounds nothing like Reich’s music).
I am interested in perceptible processes. I want to be able to hear the process
happening throughout the sounding music.
To facilitate closely detailed listening a musical process should happen extremely
Performing and listening to a gradual musical process resembles:
pulling back a swing, releasing it, and observing it gradually come to rest;
turning over an hour glass and watching the sand slowly run through the bottom;
placing your feet in the sand by the ocean’s edge and watching, feeling, and listening
to the waves gradually bury them.
Little-Scale’s synthesizer music reminds me a bit of Reich’s Pendulum Music…
…except that within Little-Scale’s modular synthesizer rig, there are a LOT of invisible, conceptual microphones swinging back and forth, capturing different sounds and interacting with each other.
It also reminds me a bit of what I know of Javanese Gamelan music…that you can think of it as a moment of hearing and paying to attention to part of a cycle that is always going on around us.
I (and some other sonicnauts) contributed 3 minutes of noise and 12 minutes of silence to vol. 5 of the Simultaneous Aural Detriments compilation – the kicker is that each contributor arranged their 3 minutes of noise differently among own 15 minute track. The organizer layered them all together and let the sounds and structure of the piece emerge as they may.
This is always a really fun project – and, I had totally forgotten what I had sent, so it was even more of a pleasant surprise to listen to it and figure out what the heck I did.
(If this seems like a familiar concept, it’s because I also contributed to volume 1 in 2015)
“Looking Glass Looking” is a chilled-out musical palindrome. I call it a “crab hocket” – meaning the keyboard plays the melody forwards and the piano plays the same melody backwards, and each part leaves room for the other.
This was developed during a class on canons at the Walden Creative Musicians Retreat.
Piano and recording by Istvan B’Racz
Hooray! I just got back from The Walden School’s Creative Musicians Retreat, where my new art song, a setting of Thomas Hardy’s piece “The Selfsame Song,” was debuted (expertly!) by Renée Favand-See and Steven Beck.
Recording coming soon. It was a whirlwind of classes, rehearsals, lessons, and performances. I was really knocked out by how great my peers’ music was and what great people they were.
(That said, of course it’s great to be back home with my most favorite people (and cats) of all.)
It was also a real kick-start creatively – I am jazzed to write at least 8 new pieces this summer, and revise and resubmit my chamber opera.
As always, more to come….
I played “Jingle Bells, Jingle All the Way” on my upright and then processed it ways 50 ways from Sunday to make a track for this “Christmas Noise” compilation:
(I’ll bet you didn’t know “Christmas Noise” was a genre, did you???)
I just released a new six-song EP!
“nevernaut” is a live electronics solo set I did performed at Carl Testa’s “Uncertainty Music Series” a while ago.
A central element of the album is processed voice – I think it’s really interesting to combine the intimate immediacy of the voice with the wild, otherworldly possibilities of electronic processing.
The album also features accordion and the sounds of healthy snacking.
It’s a little meditative and a little weird.
You can get it at:
Ok, I am super excited to share this!
I have a new composition on an album distributed at the 2016 Darmstadt Institute! The Distractfold Ensemble released the album, “historage: Remixes/Reworkings/Responses,” in an extremely limited edition CD to participants in the historic Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music.
(But YOU don’t have to attend Darmstadt to hear the composition – you can save yourself some travel expenses and check it out on my Soundcloud!)
Since the 1950’s, the Darmstadt Summer Course has been a meeting place for musical heavy-hitters, including John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Olivier Messaien. I was selected to compose a piece in response to a selection from their archives: Marta Gentilucci’s “Radix Ipsius.”
It was an incredibly fun exercise, and it made Radix Ipsius one of my new favorite pieces! I’ll detail my process later, but, long story short, I knew I wanted to take the “spirit” of the woodblock that opens Gentilucci’s piece and apply it to a piano chord. So, I made a grid that analyzed each of Radix Ipsius’ sections by tone length, texture, pitch variation, density, sound source, and order. I then shifted each row of characteristics to the right or left, at first manipulating them to fulfill my desire to let the woodblock become sustained chords, and then letting the rest of the characteristics follow the pattern that created the woodblock adjustments. If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry, I’ll explain more later!
Big thanks to the Distractfold Ensemble for putting this all together and including me!
My next blog post will go into the nitty-gritty details of how a “serial parameter shift” works and how I used it to make this piece.