On Saturday afternoon, April 2, 2016, as part of Jacques Soddell's "Undue Noise at Punctum" series, I performed at the ICU space of Punctum Arts in Castlemaine. I was part of a very long (but fun) afternoon and evening of performances by many wonderful people. More details HERE.
My piece was 43 minutes long, for Keyboard Sampler and Pre-recorded Soundtracks. In the first half of the piece, the prerecorded part was made with Kaleidoscope sonifying star maps from the SkyView app. The live samples were made with the new UVI Falcon sampler, using a variety of favorite souds from the past, such as my homemade Balloon Gongs and Tuning Forks, Bird Calls, Wind Chords (from Samples III, 1987!), and new sources such as a Fractal Wavetable, and the squeaking gate on the south side of Victoria Park, Daylesford.
In the second half of the piece, one prerecorded sequence consists of my sonifications of the Rorschach drawings from Benjamin Boretz's "If I Am a Musical Thinker," which I developed for Carmen Chan's realization of that text. The other prerecorded sequence uses newly recorded sounds of a Cicada, a drainage tunnel at Rickett's Point, Vic; and some Port Phillip Bay waves, also from Rickett's point. Also there are the sounds of sonified fractal drawings; an old Bill Evans CD, fragmented and stretched and blurred using the Composers' Desktop Project software; some stretches of the drainage tunnel sounds (also with CDP), and at the end, a 2 minute segment of algorithmically generated drum music, made with a new free drum sample set that my friend and Soundbytesmag.net colleague Sulieman Ali was involved with the making of. The live part consists of me playing keyboard which is controlling two instances of the Modartt Pianoteq piano, one in 19 tone equal temperament, the other in 13 tone equal temperament. The order of the pitches in both scales has been scrambled. That is, the notes of each scale are not ascending, but randomly reordered. There are, in fact, two different random orderings of each scale, one in the first half of the section, the other in the second half. In the middle of this section, I also add the granulation and fragmentations made possible by the GRM Tools Shuffling module.
I'm quite pleased with the sound of this piece. There seems to be a very nice mix of sound types, and a nice progression of sounds. I'm still learning to listen to what I've done here, and so far, I like what I hear, and I hope you do too.
And for those of you on machines without access to the Flash Player, you can download the piece HERE.
My friends tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE and etta cetera visited Australia from April-June 2000. They stayed with me in my flat in Elwood, and we did a lot of collaboration on various projects. As well, I was working on a number of projects at this time. tENT and etta documented pretty much all of what they did in Australia, and pretty much all of what we collaborated on. So now, 16 years later, tENT has put together ALL of the footage that I appeared in with him, into a massive four hour documentation movie. As he says in his notes on Youtube, at https://youtu.be/TiCYlcBm5nM it’s mostly unedited, although he did add some very nice graphics to our gig at the Musicians’ Club.
Naturally enough, I watched the whole thing, although not in one sitting, and I took notes as to what is happening, so if you don’t want to see the whole thing, you can zip around to particular things. It was pretty amazing for me to see this stuff. Some of it I remembered quite clearly. Some I have no recollection of having done things at all. And the most amazing thing is – occasionally the camera zooms into a computer screen to show the software that is being used. Some of the software shots are a complete mystery to me – I have no idea what software that is that I am using.
Musically, most of the live electronic improvisations that I’m doing come from a period when I was very interested in using funny scraps of found object sound – much of which came from the WFMU archives. I also recycled lots of samples from many other pieces. In fact, my whole sample archive, especially the samples with what Pierre Boulez would have called “anecdotal” content, was completely up for grabs in these improvs. I must have had some kind of patch where I had access to a list of samples, and then was able to loop any part of the sample very quickly, as well as having some other kinds of processing available.
Here’s a listing of what is going on in each scene, with timings and some comments, made at a distance of 16 years.
0:00-50:00 – This is a rehearsal with tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE. We’re exploring material we might want to use in our upcoming gig at the Musician’s Club, a late lamented venue in St Kilda. Between about 11 and 13 minutes in, Dirk de Bruyn, film-maker friend and collaborator, drops in. This is very clearly a rehearsal. We’re trying things out, seeing what works and what doesn’t. If you don’t have time to watch everything, but want to get the flavour of what was going on, I recommend from about 40 minutes in.
50:00-1:23:00 – Musicians’ Club Gig, April 9, 2000. From 50:00 – 1:05:00 tENT solos on his electronic setup. I come in about 1:05 and we duet until about 1:23:54. I have only the vaguest memories of doing this gig, but seeing the footage (with, as said, some very nice visual effects by tENT), has awakened some memories of doing it.
1:23:54 - 1:32:40 – I was involved in a project of tENT’s called the e-magic movie, where five artists shared images and sound files, each of us producing a short video sequence. In this part of the film, I’m showing tENT how I animated the images (using the Fandango screen saver program) and made the sound (in this case, using Coagula), and then showing how I combined the two.
1:32:40 – 1:37:00 - There was a very fun dinner party at choreographer Kate Kaos’s house on April 10, 2000. tENT and etta were there with cameras, and the resultant silliness is preserved. I was working with Kate at this time, writing the soundtrack to her dance “5:3:2” which tENT later documented on performance of.
1:37 :00- 1:40:00 - tENT and I dropped in on my friend Malcolm Ellis, visual artist, and tENT documented some of Malcolm’s assemblage work, as well as Malcom his self.
1:40:00 - 1:42:00 – From 1999-2002, I would occasionally hold lectures, and presentations of work in my flat, which had a fairly large living room. When this was happening, I called the place the Center for Studies in Experimental Music and Performance. This is a short sequence where we’re getting ready for an evening presentation by tENT about his work.
1:42:0-1:43:00 - Dandenong – This took place in the Dandenong Ranges, a state forest, in which there was some forestry work happening. This inspired me to perform Jas H Duke’s “Solidarity Explained” poem.
1:43:00-1:58:00 - Malcolm Ellis and I had built a harmonic canon, based on Harry Partch’s designs, to be first used in “Lost and Abducted”, an opera I wrote in 2000. In this sequence I’m working with the almost completed canon, tuning it up and doing a bit of improvising on it. I also work a bit with my accordion and tuning forks here.
1:58-2:02 tENT got me to play and sing and talk about Waltzing Matilda on accordion and voice. Enough said.
2:02:00-2:05:00 – I start practicing my score for Kate Kaos’s 5:3:2 on accordion. I then realize I need tuning forks for it as well.
2:05:00- 2:22:00 In this segment I’m setting up the tuning forks, then doing a complete rehearsal of my score for 5:3:2.
2:22:00-2:27:00 At the Planet Cafe with Tom Fryer on April 25, 2000 – we’re setting up for the performance.
2:27:00-2:59 Performance at the Planet Café, April 25, 2000 with Tom Fryer. I have only the vaguest recollection of doing this performance. I seem to remember that I was trying to perform a character who was haranguing the crowd as well as playing samples. 16 years later, the motivation for my harangues escapes me completely. I do remember that at 2:35:00 I start playing with samples of words spoken by sexologist Dr Ruth Westheimer. I think I thought this was funny at the time. The audience seems to think those words are funny as well. At about 2:55:00 it looks like Tom is playing with a transistor radio picking up emf-type broadcasts.
2:59:00-3:06:30 An excerpt from a concert on the Melbourne Composers League series “Elbow Room” where I presented excerpts from two electronic pieces: “Five Tango Permutations” and “Ten Windy Oscillators”
3:06:30-3:16:50 – A performance documentation of Kate Kaos’s dance “5:3:2” with me playing accordion and tuning forks. I can’t recall if the riffs in the 2nd half of my score are an intentional or inadvertent quote from the John Cage “String Quartet in Four Parts” (1950). As you’ll see, Kate’s dancers are inside heating duct tubing, making a quite wonderful surreal movement-scape.
3:16:50-3:20:00 A very brief excerpt from a multi-media multi-projector performance at the Planet Café on May 18, 2000. The title of the event was “tantrum.” These excerpts are where a couple of video pieces of mine from the 1990s and 1970s are projected simultaneously. The Planet Café no longer exists. It’s now a Cider Bar. The Make It Up Club, which began at the Planet Café, moved down the street to the Bar Open, where it still is today.
3:20:00-3:50:00 - This is a video documentation of a collaboration between me and tENT called “Conjuring.” This is again from the Make It Up Club at the Planet Café. The idea of the piece is that as tENT speaks, a pitch-to-MIDI converter recognizes various registers of his voice and each different register turns on and off different sample sets. tENT has put various titles in this section which explain what is going on and how things are working at various times. This is one piece that I wish we could have worked a lot more on. I think it had the potential to be magical, although this performance doesn’t achieve those heights. Still, this performance is like a good “proof-of-concept.”
3:50:00-3:55:00 – For many years I was a member of AXLE, a group devoted to visual poetry in its many manifestations. This is some documentation of one of the meetings, which occurred monthly at Fruscolino’s Pizza Café in East Richmond. It’s great seeing the members of the group again – Tony Figallo, Lloyd Jones, David Harris, Pete Murphy, Frank and Leonie Osowski, John Zizys, and a couple of others whose names escape me at the moment. At the end of this segment, and the end of the film, I’m showing Alex Selenitsch’s wonderful book “Equals” to the camera. Alex, by the way, had a wonderful retrospective this last summer (2015-2016) at the Heide Gallery in Templestowe.
The March 2016 issue of Soundbytesmag.net is out now (www.soundbytesmag.net) and I have three new articles in it.
First of all, in my "Music on Tablets" column, I have a review of Alexander Randon's very fun new app, "Fugue Machine." I'm having a lot of fun with this program.
Then there's an interview with Phil Burk, one of the leading developers of new tools for music technology. Phil is currently working for Google, developing new audio facilities for the Android platform. There's a lot of good information here, and Phil was a real pleasure to interview.
I just posted an mp3 copy of my 8 CD set: "Music for Microtonal Piano Sounds 1992-1998" to Hightail.com, for a friend in the Netherlands. And it occurred to me that as long as it's up there, I might as well let the world know about it. So, for a limited time - until February 9th, you can download the zip file of the mp3 copies of the set for free. Just go to this link, and download away! And if you like what you hear, let me know.