Collage contains recycled material from a number of my other tape pieces. As in many of the original pieces (which include recordings from even older electronic and acoustic compositions), this work tries to import the rhythmic energy of improvised and noise music into an acousmatic context.
One of my favorite tape music pieces is Edgard Varèse's Poème électronique, and i am always struck by the work's graceful presentation of gesture and silence. It seems all too often electronic music (including my own!) tends to sound as a continuous "orchestra", of sorts. I was inspired by the Varèse work to try to create a piece that sounded more like "chamber music". All the sounds in the piece are natural recordings, and have been processed with only basic editing and filtering. Nearly all sounds were recorded on the same microphone in the same room: the Composer's Studio at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.
Original Program Note:
In much of my recent work [both electroacoustic and acoustic, composed and improvised] i have been increasingly moving away from an interest in timbre and focusing instead on RHYTHM. This short piece is an experiment trying to bring out a certain kind of highly syncopated rhythm in many musical and non-musical contexts. Some of the sounds used were recorded by -- or with the assistance of -- or with equipment borrowed from Joseph Anderson.
Primary source material: a self-designed Csound opcode that played the computer's entire RAM as audio, a conversation with Scott Rosenberg, and sfSound performing my composition, fences.
Sonatina was composed with the same approach i take in my solo clarinet improvisations: i start with some motives and an idea of how to develop them but as i progress, i let the piece take charge with the direction to go in next. The source material is unprocessed acoustic recordings, with the addition of an FM synthesis instrument i designed in Csound.
The work was originally realized as stereo (to be diffused) with two extra stationary (rear) channels. The recording here is a stereo mix-down.
f(Ingerling)ette is part of a series of short works that focus on rhythm. In these works, i have tried to use fast "jump-cuts" to reproduce the syncopated energy often found in my improvised music activities. The source material includes some of my other tape pieces and recordings of my early childhood.
This piece uses a lot of old recordings, including one from when i was eight, learning to play the clarinet.
Original Program Note:
I'm not really interested in making 'cool sounds' anymore.. Fingerling is the 3rd in a series of tape pieces in which i have decidedly focused my attention away from timbre and toward form, gesture. and pseudo-narrative elements. Although i have personal attachments to most of the sounds in this piece, it is not required that you know what these are. Hopefully they will conjure up at least some kind of memory or feeling.
Interesting story behind this piece. At the premiere (1997 SEAMUS Conference, Kansas City), my SF Tape Music Collective colleague, Cliff Caruthers, was a student working on the festival! (if we met then, i don't remember it) The performance was louder than i intended, but i couldn't do anything as the mixing board was up in the lighting booth. I guess a bunch of people got upset, apparently interpreting the piece as one of those angry-young-man's malicious "middle finger" piece. A high-ranking SEAMUS member told me that the performance was "criminal". Supposedly members of the board tried to keep the piece off of the society's annual CD (a requirement of the commission). Then my stream-of-consciousness-ish CD liner notes were rejected. A second version of the notes were approved (keeping some of the original weirdness) and everyone lived happily ever after...
Gargoyle :: computer generated tape for dance (1995, 10:03)
Granular synthesis realized on a NeXT running a C program to generate Csound scores. Mixed with RT.
Choreography by Trina Eby-Frederick.
In 2013, i started sitting-in with the network band, the Hub. After coding up a handful of their pieces, i thought i would try to “port" of a few passages from structured improv pieces i had written for sfSound into a spec for the Hub. The resulting spec is a Christian Wolff inspired, “hot potato” piece where performers pass short notes ("fence posts") around the ensemble while others are sustaining long tones ("fence slats"). The piece also explores different kinds of latency: network latency, scheduled "delayed" notes, and human reaction times.
These realizations are written in C/C++ software, running (and compiling!) in Xcode during the performance. All the pieces use my synthesis/dsp library, SonoDSP. The recording below is a selection of some of my own sounds that i use for my own performance in Fences.
Easter Egg is a hidden general MIDI algorithm (2009)
This is a recording of an "easter egg" i covertly inserted into the Encore music notation software when i was lead programmer at GVOX. Encore uses a general MIDI synthesizer by default, and i thought it would be interesting to try to make something (on my own time!) tape-music-ish with general MIDI. The algorithm runs continuously until the user cancels. As far as i am aware, it has only been discovered by one user during the beta testing phase, after which i made it even harder to discover!
Plans to port the code to a standalone application, web applet, or orchestra(!!) are in the works...
Interactive music using a pitch-to-MIDI box, HMSL code, and MIDI output. This piece was heavily inspired by George Lewis's Voyager System. The program functions as a virtual improviser, listening to my clarinet input while while trying to make "intuitive" choices for its output.
I performed this piece a number of times with various samplers and Disklaviers. It has been cited as an example of interactive improvised music in academic courses and papers.
According to Phil Burk, one of the creators of HMSL, my performance with CLAIRE at Mills College in 2002 was most likely the last performance to ever use HMSL.
Original Program Note:
CLAIRE is a virtual improviser written in HMSL. It has been over a year since our last gig together. Like most mediocre musicians performing free improvisation, she takes a while to "lock in", sometimes "goes off" without listening to others, occasionally makes really dumb "choices", and often resorts to the easiest trick in the book: direct imitation. Having said this, she is a better improviser than more than a few musicians i have played with in the past, and i do enjoy trying to make music with her.
live performance (september 28 2002 @ ccrma)
example #1 (recording session @ ccrma)
example #2 (recording session @ ccrma)
sample-based ensemble version (november 20 1995 @ ccm)
A tiny MacOS-classic application that started as a test of the Quicktime Synthesizer and ended up being a virtual improviser. There are no controls to the program, you just launch it and it starts playing until you quit.
An interactive computer program i wrote in MacCsound that "improvises" with me. Intended as "CLAIRE 2.0" (see above) of sorts, the program listens to my clarinet playing via a microphone and analyzes the input to determine what/where/when to sound its sample-based output. There are no explicit controls - the only way i can influence the computer's output is through my own playing.
This performance was recorded November 13, 2006 on the sfSoundSeries @ ODC Theater, San Francisco. In the middle of the performance, I donned a hipster hat and sunglasses, bobbing my head to the beat of the music. Jonathan Russell wrote a review in the San Francisco Classical Voice.
A performance instrument written in C++ on BeOS. The program loads large sound files (the original idea was to include live sampling but never got there) and analyses them to find all the transient attacks. During the performance, i trigger the attacks and some manipulations from the computer keyboard. I can only tell the program what files to consider, then the code continuously swaps out what exact attack will be triggered. The idea was to create a more natural sound and avoid the dreaded "sampler"-like repetitiveness. Some of the samples used are from Gino Robair's solo percussion CD, Singular Pleasures.
I performed a number of improv shows with this program, sometimes adding turntable, violin, some MacCsound real-time instruments, and playing a keyboard (computer and MIDI) with my feet! The last recording in the list, above is an example - a mix from a live performance on KZSU, Stanford that i made for a 12" vinyl release for a start-up record label that never came through. The ending, which ends with turntable sounds anyway, was supposed to finish into a 'locked groove'.
The image, top-left, is from my performance on the 2nd annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival. Richard Henderson mentioned the performance in his review in The Wire: "Grabbing the tone arm and slamming or scraping the cartridge across vinyl, he produced brutalised blasts of noise that were then resectioned in his computer, with recombinant patterns born of the sonic shards triggered by his keyboard."
The video, bottom-left, (advance to 3:33) is an excerpt of the premiere (still in development!) on 9/9/99 produced by Dan Joseph.
Variants of Microsoft BASIC code i wrote on a Macintosh 128k. Inspired by something presented in my college intro to electronic music class, it uses Markov Chains, although i don't think i knew that's what they were called at the time. It uses the MacOS's wavetable synth (accessible through BASIC calls).
The computer and program still run (!) and in 2009 i re-recorded the various programs (along with a bonus track) and released on cassette. Cover image to the left. You can listen to individual tracks below:
A "concerto" of sorts i wrote for myself with the tape functioning as a "poor person's orchestra". This piece won the ASCAP/SEAMUS Student Recording Prize (see story above). It has held up fairly well and i still perform it! The score includes a lot of improvisation, but plans are in the works to create a more traditional version to make it more accessible for other clarinetists.
Original Program Note:
CrusT, for clarinet and computer generated tape, was realized in Studio 4 at the University of Texas at Austin and the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College. The tape part is derived from my own clarinet samples manipulated by Csound scores I generated with algorithms written in C.
live recording from The University Houston, 11.29.2003
The original version of this work was realized collaborating with Kyle Bruckmann, oboe, and Monica Scott, cello. Subsequent performances included other members of sfSoundGroup.
When performing this work, the audience should not be informed beforehand that it includes a tape part.
Original Program Note:
One of my compositional goals (especially when working with sfSound) is to try to merge the individuality of improvised music with the structured world of composition. When composed instrumental music is based mostly on sound (what might pejoratively be called “extended technique” music), i start to question the necessity of a composer. However, when listening to free improvisation i often miss the organization and formal structures of composed music. False Awakening is an attempt to allow the players to play their OWN sounds (in this instance amplified soft ones) placed inside a formal structure. The result is best described as something in between a “structured improvisation” and a “composition”.