A few years ago, I was working on my M.A. and had almost no time to play music. In order to work on something musical when and where I could, I asked my friends to send me individual recordings that I planned to put together into tracks. I had hoped that this process would be somewhat akin to improvising, and would produce a rather coherent set of material. This isn’t really what happened, and the project sat on my computer for a long time.
A couple weeks ago, I remembered all of these tracks that I never did anything with, and I mixed them together all at once in a day or so. The result is not coherent, but has a character of its own, I think. The sounds are from places as diverse as Thailand, Korea, Scotland, Los Angeles, and Columbus, and were either sent by friends or recorded on my phone. They each bring me back to places and times that are now far gone, and I think each track has some moments that are really nice. (In particular, I am kind of blown away by the way track five came out, where this cymbal bowing that I did in five seconds made a melody that I could never have intentionally made–IN THE KEY that Aaron’s track is in.)
I’m happy to say that I am playing music again, but at the same time, my friends are as scattered as they have ever been. I think I might like to try something like this again, in order to keep exploring what Cage called “musicircus” (simultaneity of unrelated intentions) through pre-recorded material. It is a way to make music, perhaps, with far away people.
You can click on the individual tracks to read about what source material was used in each case.
In February, Aaron put on a show of music composed for the event. I wrote this piece, which is meant as a kind of long-distance duet (at first between myself and Aaron, but subsequently for anyone).
In the guitar part, the first movement has pitches but no rhythms; the second movement has rhythms but no pitches. The accompaniment part, on the other hand, is to be completely improvised and pre-recorded. In the end, the idea is for the guitarist to fill in what is missing in the score by improvising with the recording in the moment.
The point of keeping this interaction ‘secret’ until the show is meant not only to simulate what a duet might actually be like, but also to ensure that the choices made by the guitar player with regard to rhythm or pitch are in part reactions to the accompaniment part in real time–in other words, to the point is to make sure that they are improvised as they would be if the duet was playing together in a live situation.
Finally, the instructions dictate that each time this work is performed, the accompaniment recording must be commissioned anew. Repeat performers are fine, as long as the recording is different for each performance. Alternatively, a recording of a full performance of this piece (with both accompaniment and guitar parts) may be used as an accompaniment part in a subsequent performance.”
I am really happy with the way it came out. Aaron knows all the right notes.
HERE is the score.
HERE is the recording from the show:
I sure have been working hard playing the instruments in my living room for a couple minutes at a time. Now I can finally share the results with you.
The mini guitar started out with four strings, but we sadly lost one over winter break.