Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Straphanger/Petrichor

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.

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