Matt Turnshek: Piano
Amelia Rosen: Visual Design, Live Video Manipulation
Guy de Bree: Composition, Live Mixing
For our final project, we were interested in exploring the mental space of a person with anxiety. We knew we were more interested in a come conventional piece of music performance, and we were working off the back of Matt and Guy’s research projects (two extremely different pieces of music we were trying to resolve into one), when the idea of exploring anxious psychology came up, and we felt it matched the direction we were going in well.
Structurally, the piece work as follows: Guy was live mixing an Ableton project containing a variety of recorded and synthesized sounds, as well as the lights in the room. Amy was using a Max patch to war a piece a piece of video to match the mood Guy was setting, and Matt was improvising on piano in response to what he was seeing from both Amy and Guy.
The piece contains a number of ‘phases’ that are switched between, that were meant to represent a gradient from normal to highly anxious. The more anxious the phase, the more aggressive the sounds guy was playing, and the more erratic Matt’s and Amy’s parts became also.
The Max patch we used was based off of adrewb@cycling74’s DirtySignal patch. We modified it to our tastes, and added controls for Amy to use.
For my research Project, I wanted to try making a composed pice of music, something I had never done before. Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to a DAW more advanced that Audacity due to my own poor planning and Carnival. That being said I think the result turned out pretty well
I was interested in using the human voice as a instrument, and see how far I could push it to create interesting sound. However I wanted to use languages I was unfamiliar with since using English would have, for me, removed focus from the sound of the voice itself rather than the meaning. In the indI found a recording of a man speaking in a Dominican language called Lindala. I like the sound of it so much I decided to limit myself to sing exclusively this recording and try and build a piece of music out of it.
Rest was intended to explore the mental space of a person half-awake in the morning, repeatedly ignoring their alarm. It’s a half-dream space where this person’s rational thought is pitted against its environment.
We lacked direction until Patrick joined the group, bringing new ideas. He ended up designing most of the experiential aspects of the piece, including the use of a mattress as an instrument, and the performative play that became attached to this.
As a source for structural inspiration for the piece we turned to works like Terry Riley’s In C. We were interested in what would happen if you turned In C into a mechanical process e.i. the musician’s progressions be caused by random inputs (in our case, tennis balls hitting a mattress).
I was the one who ended up composing the set of bars to be progressed. I decided to go with a set of fairly spacious, simple compositions, to prevent heavy layering of the bars from being unintelligible. They’re a mix of C Major and Minor. They ended up mostly being a dreamily kind of happy, which I think matched our general theme.
Cleo was really interested in adding texture to the piece from a sound editing station from the beginning. Her main contribution to the piece was the entire Max system she developed and controlled during the performance. Here’s some pictures of them she sent me:
Tamao helped generally run the preparation for performance. Unfortunately my main camera failed me during the performance so I had to resort to taking a partial video with my phone. This is entirely my (Guy’s) fault.
Overall we think the piece went well, and even though the mattress falling was unplanned, Patrick recovered well, and it became part of the performance. We did feel that the piece should have escalated with time more, and unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to thoroughly rehearse before performance so we missed this problem.
Brian Eno – 1/1 (Music for Airports)
Brian Eno is one of the earlier pioneers into ambient music, and personally I’m very fond of this piece in particular. Its use of space in particular is excellent.
Steve Reich – Piano Phase
We’ve discussed Steve Reich before in class, and I’ve actually performed one of his pieces in the past (Music for pieces of wood). Piano Phase is one of his more curious pieces. Reich likes to play with the structure of music a lot, and one of the most evident cases of this is here. The piece is based on the idea of having 2 pianists play the same bar of music at different speeds, and using this to gradually change the phase of the 2 performer’s loops.
I found 2 pieces of audio that I found interesting for very different reasons, so I decided to include both of them despite given instructions. Apologies.
Son House – Grinnin’ in Your Face
Son House was a seminal delta blues musician, who served as a significant influence on later, more famous blues musicians such as Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson.
I think Grinnin’ in your Face is interesting because it’s both extremely minimalistic and emotional, composed of only Son’s singing and clapping.
Blank Cassette Tapes
I’ve noticed that the sound produced by a blank cassette being played is in fact much more complex than mere white noise. In roughly-produced tapes, the blank spaces are often quite complex, as the ambient beginnings and ending of different audio tracks change it.
More generally, one common feature of these types of sounds is that they have a rhythm that is easy to miss entirely. I assume it’s a mechanical artifact.
The example given isn’t the best, but it serves well enough.