Things Just Fall Together - and the SoundByte Culture
Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 3:57PM

I've noticed in the past few years that there has been a demand for short new music pieces. One of the chief perpetrators of this (and blessings be upon him, too, as Harry Partch might have said) has been Rob Voisey, of New York, whose 60x60 project (60 pieces of recorded music, each 60 seconds long, assembled into a one hour program for concert, dance or broadcast formats) goes from strength to strength. I also noticed a recent project called "Momentary Pleasures" in which composers were invited to write miniature piano (on the keys only, please!) pieces for possible inclusion in the 2010 ISCM World Music Days. And a number of others. Well, while decrying the sound byte culture these things seem to be reflecting, I'm fully willing and in fact eager, to take on the challenge of brevity. The only problem is, doing these things seems to leave you with all sorts of tiny pieces hanging out all over the place with nowhere for them to go. And in addition to that, over the past year, with my development work on Algorithmic Arts ArtWonk4, I've made a number of very short demo pieces, in which the output of a particular equation or data set is demonstrated. Many of these are simply demos - showing the kind of sound they produce, but some are developed into little pieces in their own right. Which leaves me with even more llttle scraps of tunes lying around. What to do with all these?


A few days ago, I was making a list of everything I'd written in the past year - in preparation for updating my "List of Works" on this website. I noticed I had an awful lot of these little pieces that I'd made either as demos or as entries into these various contests. Why not, I thought, just string a bunch of them together and hear what happens. I did, and began to notice various connections (purely subconscious, and not planned in any way) between the pieces. Over 3 days of intense work at the very end of 2009, two pieces emerged. In fact, they sort-of just fell together. I'm as surprised as anyone by this - I don't normally do this kind of "assembling of pieces from disparate ideas" thing. But I'm happy with these - they seem to work, and have a cross referential logic, that although unplanned, seems to feel right. The first, longer piece, called "December Medley" incorporates the Ryokan Gurgle, Christmas Tie, Cicada and Finnegans Wake pieces described above, as well as four other selections, and is 25 minutes long. The second, "Algorithmic Demos" clocks in at 9:05 in duration, and has 8 sections, lasting between a minute and 1:40. One section of this - "Little March" has been played earlier on this blog. The Lottery, Sprott Attractor and Rossler Attractor pieces are pretty much pure outputs from their respective data sources - once a particular realization was set up, it was allowed to play unmodified for the duration. Here are the titles of the 8 sections of the piece. A PDF file of notes for the piece is available by clicking HERE. Those wanting even further explanations of these little miniatures can contact me.


Algorithmic Demos (2009)

1) Irritating Song

2) Little March

3) Playing the Lottery in Plano - Part 1

4) Sprott Attractor Blues

5) Rossler Canon

6) Playing the Lottery in Plano - Part 2

7) 93 Tone Road, Wangaratta, Vic.

8) Webern By the Lake


And here, as a special New Years gift for friends far and wide, is the mp3 of "Algorithmic Demos."





Warren Burt: Algorithmic Demos (2009) - duration 9:05


Algorithmic Demos, December Medley and 6 other pieces are all from a forthcoming CD of mine - "Warren Burt: 2009" which I'll be launching on this website soon (in the next couple of months). It will be available both as a physical CD (through the post), and as an MP3 download, as soon as we can get the mechanism for the downloads set up. As those of you who design these things know - this website stuff takes time.

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