The Spinning Earth Shall Spread Before You
"...the irresistible will of heaven..."
Electronic Etude No. 2 - "Swing Reflections"
The Spinning Earth Shall Spread Before You - Inspired by the work of composer/hardware hacker Nick Collins, this piece explores the process of composing music through real-time performance of music playback devices. Both CD players have been modified, allowing for networked control of their play/pause, seek, and stop controls. Additional modifications made to the anti-skip memory and data-muting chips of each player result in the creation of rhythmic loops when each CD player is paused, and heavily distorted, delayed audio fragments when connecting pins on the anti-skip memory chip. Each CD player is connected through Bendit_I/O, a new hardware/software system that allows for networked performance with circuit-bent devices and web-enabled interfaces. Through this system, the performer and the CD players can share data between each other, allowing for machine-to-machine and human-to-machine interaction. Each CD contains material written by the composer, and that material is warped and modified in real time during the performance. More information on Bendit_I/O can be found at www.benditio.com.
pisgah mosaic was composed for the 2020 integrative conservation conference held in Athens, Georgia at the University of Georgia and premiered at a concert that was part of the conference. Composers were paired with researchers to produce musical reflections on conservation research. The Pisgah region is located in the southern Appalachian Mountains of the United States. Mosaic generally refers to the artistic process where an artwork is formed by the arrangement and patterning of small, discrete pieces, but it has another meaning in landscape and forest ecology, describing the shifting patchwork of forest types that arise through patterns of disturbance and the resulting patterns of old growth, middle-aged, and young forest/open areas. Furthermore, it can also refer to the mosaic of land uses, such as forest, agriculture, etc., and while this term is not expressly used in social science, it still communicates something of the many communities, voices and worldviews that are part of a contested landscape and its future patterns.
.PAra_siTE - This piece is intended to be a “subpiece,” which only can exist in the presence of another piece. That means, like a parasite, it feeds another (performed) music as material. Also, it is like a “phantom of the opera” appearing randomly, roaming around the concert hall, looking for prey. Technically, it takes 3 minutes from any recording and reinterprets it. It distorts the original file like a computer virus, full of disjointed fragments and glitches. On top of that, it speaks through a text-to-speech voice, and it confesses a distorted love to the host. Though this piece repeats a pre-programmed text, it pretends emotional. Eventually, it oscillates between originality and derivativeness, expressional voice and emotionless algorithm, and the living music and parasitizing music.
“…the irresistible will of heaven…” - In his Record of a Weather-Exposed Skeleton, Matsuo Bashō comes upon a three-year-old boy who has been abandoned by his parents and is crying pitifully on the bank of a river. Bashō gives the boy something to eat, but then continues on his way, leaving the child to die. He says… "How is it indeed that this child has been reduced to this state of utter misery? Is it because of his mother who ignored him, or because of his father who abandoned him? Alas, it seems to me that this child’s undeserved suffering has been caused by something far greater and more massive – by what one might call the irresistible will of heaven. If it so, child, you must raise your voice to the heaven, and I must pass on, leaving you behind." - Bashō
Phantasmagoria - The title of this film comes from a form of theatrical horror-genre entertainment popular in the 18th-19th centuries. In a Phantasmagoria show, the audience would be presented with strange, hallucinatory, often scary and grotesque imagery, mimicking the fashion for séances at the time. Made from 3 distinct media (digital video, celluloid film and Victorian magic lantern slides) and visual motifs associated with early cinema and horror clichés, the film is a dialogue across time, implying, not telling a narrative. Musically, it was agreed early on that the score should be based around sound and harmony, rather than any melodic motif. Despite the Western origin of these images, the idea of impermanence found in many non-western religions pervades the work. Sounds of eastern origin, including singing bowls, Buddhist chant, and tabla are employed. Furthermore, like the images, no idea remains constant. We sought to show nothing exists in stasis, but are entering and leaving “existence” in the film. However an organ and choir find their way in as well, nodding to the traditional scoring of silent films. Due to the supernatural tone of the film, the spiritual harmonic theories of Scriabin appear. The mystic chord, both as a whole and in various voicings can be heard throughout. Scriabin’s conceptualization of perfect 5ths as spiritually pure was important and appears in “sonically pure” sine waves, which sometimes appear on their own, and sometimes underlie other parts. Like the historical entertainments, occasionally something unexpected issues forth from the abyss. Film by Daniel Adams.
Electronic Etude No. 2 – Swing Reflections is a piece that explores the subtleties of live delay and panning manipulations. These manipulations are coupled with harmonies and rhythms that can be associated with jazz and/or blues. The resulting aesthetic is one of interpersonal conflict. The harmonies imply a sense of relaxation and comfort, but the trajectory of the electronics coupled with the trajectory of the development of the musical materials conveys panic. The dissonance between the harmony and the development in the piece, both acoustic and electronic, creates a reflective, almost dream-like environment. Whether or not the dream in question is good or bad is entirely up to the listener. Electronic Etude No. 2 is the second in a series of pieces for solo instrument and live electronics aimed at exploring certain, often basic, electronic manipulations. This work was commissioned by my friend Christopher C. Williams.