« Things Just Fall Together - and the SoundByte Culture | Main | THREE NEW VIDEO WORKS »


There are lots of things to announce here - many projects have come to fruition, and I haven't had a chance to publicise them yet. So here we go.


1) ArtWonk 4.0 is now available.  I've been working on this project for John Dunn, the program's author, for more than a year. There are many new functions and capabilities. Lots more fractal and random and pseudo-random resources available for composers. The old Algoart website called the program "algorithmic Midi and Paint," but in fact, it's lots more than that now - it can be used for music composition, sound modification, computer animation, algorithmic text generation, etc. If you're already an ArtWonk (or MusicWonk) user, the upgrade is well worth it. If you're not, and you're interested in the field, check it out - it's an incredibly powerful, easy to learn program. http://algoart.com


2) Publications publications:


a) Going Down Swinging, Issue 29 is now available, with a spoken word CD, one track of which is my "Waystations" for computer voice and live computer, another of which is a duet with Jo Truman, voice, and myself, again, on computer. Both these tracks were recorded at the Overload Poetry Festival in Melbourne in early September. Most of the things I've read in the magazine and and heard on the CD so far are delightful. Going Down Swinging have done their usual excellent job assembling a wide range of material. Highly recommended. Info: www.goingdownswinging.org.au



b) Voiceprints 09, a CD of sound poetry from this years Overload Poetry Festival is also now available. Contributions from Peter Murphy, Eddy Burger, Jeltje and Friends, myself (2 computer songs - "Eleven Short Anagrammatic Chance Poems" and "Irritating Song."), Alex Selenitsch and Unamunos Quorum, Anna Fern performing Kurt Schwitters, Ania Walwicz, Jo Truman and Hans Stibbe, Jorg Piringer, and Santo Cazzati. I was at many of the performances at Overload, and heard a lot of these folks, and it was some of the most fun sound poetry I've heard in quite a while. For more information: F..tloose Recordings, PO Box 277, Clifton Hill, Vic 3068 Australia



c) Whale Music Remixed, assembled by David Rothenberg. This is a bit of an "old" announcement - the CD was released in April, but I haven't publicised it here, so I will. This cd is 18 tracks by human and cetacean musicians, sometimes collaborating, sometimes not. It's quite a cast list, one which I'm proud to be part of. The music is great too. OK, I love to name drop - here's who's on the CD: DJ Spooky, Markus Reuter, 3 Corners of the World, Scanner, David Rothenberg, Stephen Chopek, Belugas of the White Sea, White Sea Shamans, Gari Saarimaki, Mira Calix, Lukas Ligeti, Cycle Hiccups, me, Strings sof Consciousness, David Rothenberg and Mark Johnson, Francisco Lopez, Ben Neill, One Lone Maui Humpback Whale, and Robert Rich. More information from: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/davidrothenberg3.


d) Fractions of Illumination: Cross-Cultural Music by Australian Women Composers. Music by Ros Bandt, Brigid Burke, Dang Kim Hien, Anne Norman and Catherine Schieve. I'm playing on Catherine's track, an extract from her "Attunements" from 2006. It's a great CD, produced by the amazing Le Tuan Hung for his Sonic Gallery label, and his Sonic Gallery website. I wrote a text for Le - a review of the CD to send to the funding bodies, and I'll paste that review to the end of these announcements. Of course, I'm prejudiced, I'm married to one of the composers, and I'm good friends with all the other ones. But even with that prejudice, I can still say, it's a great CD. Info at: http://home.vicnet.net.au/~aaf/fractions.htm

And for those of you in Melbourne, there will be a launch party on Dec 22, at a venue to be announced on the AAF website. Stay tuned.



3) Some reviews:


Normally, I don't get reviews, because I mostly do things in places where critics don't go. For example, my 7 mid-day concerts at Kinross House Gallery in Toorak, Melbourne, in July, or my recent Saturday afternoon performance at SNO Gallery in Marrickville, Sydney. However, I wrote pieces for acoustic performers recently, and those concerts WERE reviewed in Resonate, the Australian Music Centre's web magazine. Here they are, and they even say nice things about my pieces.  Many thanks to the reviewers for taking not only my works, but the other works on the concerts seriously, and writing perceptively about them.




http://www.australianmusiccentre.com.au/article/decibel - scroll down to Tape It (10 September 2009)


And just in (December 20) - Jonathan Marshall also contributed this review of Tape It to the most recent issue of Real Time: http://www.realtimearts.net/article/issue94/9674 - this is only the 3rd time, I think, that my work has been mentioned in Real Time, so even though I only rate a sentence, it's worth noting.


4) The Merri Creek or Nero #15 is now out. This is the web incarnation of Kris Hemensley's literary magazine, which first started, in print, back in the late 60s or early 70s. In the current issue is an exchange between Kris and myself on algorithmic composition, and how and why one might use it. For those interested in the field, there is a nice exchange of opinions and stories.


http://collectedworks-poetryideas.blogspot.com/search/label/Warren%20Burt - OR

http://www.collectedworks-poetryideas.blogspot.com/ - and follow Kris's directions to the entry for Oct 21, 2009.


5) Coming SOON!


Frog Peak Music www.frogpeak.org will soon be publishing 6 new scores of mine. These are pieces for acoustic instruments, voice, or acousticinstruments and prerecorded accompaniment. The pieces are:

a) Repetitive Rant for Peace - mezzo-soprano and microtonal guitar (performed by Lotte Latekefu and Gary Butler, Sydney, May 2009)

b) Emergence - 2 Quarter-tone trumpets in C and Bb, Quarter-Tone Horn in F, and Electro-Acoustic Sound (performed by Stephen Altoft, Matthias Mainz, and Samuel Stoll, London, March 2009)

c) Divine Permutations One and Two - Piano or Microtonal Piano or either with Electro-Acoustic Sound

d) Bass Drum, Vibraphone, Voice and Electronics - for what it says. (written for, and performed by Matthias Schack-Arnott in Melbourne, July 2009 - and reviewed in Resonate - see above.)

e) Another Noisy Lullaby - 3-9 acoustic instruments and Electro-Acoustic Sound on Portable CD Players. (written for, and performed by Decibel in Perth, Sept 2009 - and reviewed in Resonate - see above.)

f) Prototype and Composite: Obsessive Compulsive Re-order - Piano and Pre-recorded Electro-Acoustic Microtonal Piano.

Keep watching the Frog Peak Website - the Warren Burt page, for when these works will be available.




And here's my review of "Fractions of Illumination"


"Fractions of Illumination" - review by Warren Burt


Melbourne based publisher Sonic Gallery has released a wonderful new CD, "Fractions of Illumination: Cross-Cultural Music by Australian Women Composers." (Sonic Gallery, SG0901) At the moment, it's available at their website, ( http://home.vicnet.net.au/~aaf/fractions.htm ) and should be available at a number of other sites (like this one) soon.


It's a collection of mostly short works, mostly modal, and mostly for acoustic instruments, mostly non-Western, used in unusual contexts. As all those "mostly-s" show, there are plenty of exceptions to the generalizations, and in fact, one thing that makes the album so attractive is its diversity.


Ros Bandt's "From the Venetian Mansion," a short duet for tarhu, an Australian designed string instrument with bowed and sympathetic strings and viola da gamba is a good curtain raiser, a gentle drone-oriented modal melody for two bowed stringed instruments. The contrast between the two instruments is subtle, but this is not the case with Dang Kim Hien's "Melodia Nostalgica" for piano and experimental electric Dan bau, the Vietnamese monochord. Here the two instruments have radically different timbres, tunings, and sets of associations. Both are playing together, and both are trying to express the same sets of emotions, but the contrast between the instruments is so great that the instruments co-exist in the same acoustic space, but in very different aesthetic worlds. The tension is not resolved, it simply is, creating a unique kind of emotional pull. The modal character of the piano playing connects with the modality of the opening Bandt piece, but the Dan bau, which could have been reduced to a "funny kind of bass" here holds its own with its own repertoire of gestures, melody, timbre, and tuning.


It's interesting how even an unfamiliar instrument can have a wide range of emotional characters. From the very first phrases of Dang Kim Hien's "On a Quivering String", a solo amplified experimental Dan bau piece, it's quite clear we're in a very different emotional world than the gentle nostalgia of the previous duet. And the presence of a familiar instrument to help us tell the difference in mood is not necessary. This is one of the strongest pieces on the CD, and (at 7 minutes) one of the longest. The length of the piece is well supported by the strong timbral progressions here. A very absorbing piece!


The CD is mostly acoustic, as said above, but musique concrete techniques appear in the works of Anne Norman and Brigid Burke. In Anne Norman's "Ask Not-Fear Not," a diptych made by manipulating improvisation recordings of herself on shakuhachi and power pole bells and Brigid Burke on clarinet, a moody, reverberated soundscape results. Attractive low tones and bell tones alternate, with a sense of distance to some of the sounds - a nicely shaped piece, with new material fading in towards the end. The second part, although using some of the same materials, has its own charms, with a beautifully melancholy duet for recorded and live shakuhachi near the end of the piece.


Anne Norman's works often have interesting shapes - changing and growing in unexpected ways. Her "Deep Sea Divers" in one such work, progressing from an opening ocean blast to a melancholy melody at the end, with stops along the way at a variety of other sound materials. An unusual shape, but one that's satisfying, and fits the narrative content of her piece very well.


Similarly, Ros Bandt's "Whale Song," with its lovely use of reverb, and distant-seeming sounds, also creates a suspended, melancholy feel, as do her next two pieces "Tragoudia 1 & 2." The recurring motifs of modal melodies, sustained sounds (bowed string, winds), and bells fill these pieces as well, but with a difference. Here the bells are worn by goats, whose braying is heard throughout both pieces, mixing in with the melodic playing of the tarhu. In the second of these pieces, the whinnying of a goat kid is one of the most striking sounds on the CD. In finding and using this sound, Ros clearly knew she was on to a good thing.


A completely different mood is immediately established in Brigid Burke's "Air Dance," another musique concrete piece made from clarinet and sampled gamelan sounds. After the leisurely or stately feel of many of the previous pieces (the succession of pieces feels like an extended Indian alap), the rhythmic pulsing of this piece make quite a contrast. Also new here is the introduction of very noisy sounds, which also bring us into the world of Brigid's "Fractions of Illumination 1 and 2," another diptych, using sampled improvisations by, again, Brigid and Anne Norman. The first section has what I might call a "held back," rather than "meditative" sound, while part 2, a much noisier piece, features high sustained and popping percussive sounds. Here the feeling is that all the sounds are recorded close miked, they have a kind of "in-your-face" feeling. This sets up a contrast with the last, and longest work on the CD.


That work is a10 minute excerpt from near the beginning of Catherine Schieve's "Attunements," an hour-long piece for acoustic and electronic sound sources performed in November 2006. Immediately, we're in a different acoustic world from the very close-up sounds of the previous work. There is "air" around all the sounds, as if it were recorded in a large room. And in fact it was. Emotionally, too, we're in a different world. To some degree, all the pieces before this have shared at least some emphasis on melody - a series of changing discrete sound events occurring in moderately rapid succession. Here, we're in the world of the drone. The acoustic nature of the sound, its drone-like nature, and the complex harmonies that the sruti boxes are playing establish this is a piece by a very different personality. Just before the end of this excerpt, the sound changes from drones on harmonium-like instruments, to a rippling texture of water and xylophone-like sounds. This establishes the ongoing nature of the piece - there is more to hear, and someday hopefully it will be made available.


Overall, this is quite an impressive collection of pieces from a collection of strong and uniquely indinidual composers. It's very good listening, too! And full marks must be accorded to producer Le Tuan Hung, who composed the sequencing of the pieces, creating the emotional ebb and flow that the CD has. One can't escape the overall feeling of melancholy with much of the CD, but pieces which don't have that feeling are placed throughout the CD, creating its emotional shape. The production and packaging are beautiful as well. All in all, definitely worth buying.


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend