Tuesday, August 31, 2010


As mentioned in yesterday's post, one of my current projects is a CD of experimental ambient music. I call it ambient because the music is slow-paced, quiet, and expansive. It is not necessarily soothing, though!

Straphanger and Petrichor are both old pieces. Hard to believe that I made Straphanger four years ago!

Clip of Straphanger (full track available through iTunes, Amazon, etc.)
Recording of Petrichor, with Tadej Kenig, clarinet

Inspired by reading about the Atrium Sound Space at the College of Santa Fe, I began expanding some of the materials for these pieces for use in an installation. I made about thirty to forty tracks of materials that could either be played on shuffle by multiple CD players, or played on shuffle in a little Max/MSP program I made.

Excerpt of Straphanger installation
Excerpt of Petrichor installation

Although these pieces have not been 'installed' anywhere yet, I did use them as backdrops for an improv concert in Belfast. I called it "Rainy Commute." Here is an excerpt.

This summer I decided that I would like to release these installation versions, but I needed to put them in a form suitable for most listeners. The multiple-CD/Max version would not work, but a CD would. To create the new 'Ambient' versions, I used two different approaches.

For Straphanger, I used the proportions from the original piece to determine the lengths of sections (these were based on various Golden Section proportions to begin with). I simply multiplied the lengths by five to get a thirty minute piece instead of a six minute piece. From there, I started arranging tracks from the installation within these sections. In the original Straphanger, each section emphasizes a different sound - train door beeps, conductor announcements, track noises, etc. I did the same in this new version, except that I let other sounds emerge here and there for interest.

For Petrichor, I started with the same approach, but I felt that some of the sections were too long and too similar. Instead, I ran and recorded my Max/MSP patch four times, then stitched together the best moments from each "take."

I am still polishing these but hoping to release the disc sometime in September.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Getting back in gear

If you haven't been reading my Twitter updates, I have made it to Gainesville, Florida (and have been here three weeks tomorrow). I have settled into my apartment, though I have only had one week of school and one of my classes hasn't even met yet. So in that regard, I'm still settling in.

I have several projects in the works, which I will write more about soon:

1. Straphanger/Petrichor - these titles may be familiar to some, as I wrote them in '06 and '07. I also created extended installation version of the pieces. What I am working on now is a CD of ambient-ish versions, based on the files used in the installations, but on the formal structures of the originals. Both pieces are around 30 minutes. More details in a later post.

2. Mirror Universes series - two of these have been written so far, and the Devil May Care duo played No. 2 on their East Coast tour this year [video]. Each will feature Caleb Herron on percussion and a guest on various instruments (so far viola and clarinet, with pieces for trombone and sax sketched out). We are hoping to release a CD of the pieces sometime next year.

3. Full Circle project - my hip-hop hybrid project. For those new to this blog, I was documenting my progress in the spring, but then my laptop died and I lost a lot of my data. Finally I have time to recreate stuff and am stitching things together for a winter release.

4. Quarter-tone flute piece - this will be a 6-7 minute piece for quarter-tone flute and electronics of some sort. I have barely begun this but I promised to do it a long time ago, so I will do my best to finish it this semester. Writing it for Carla Rees in London.