Tuesday, February 17, 2009

new old boat

This past weekend our new boat arrived in the mail. We figured out some time back that we need a folding kayak for our upcoming Alaska trip. When in Wragnell AK a couple years back we borrowed one of these from Dr. McCandlis and it was really fabulous.

After searching ebay for weeks we found an old abandoned boat in Millerville PA, the home of Christine's former grandmother. We won the auction and on Friday evening the boat arrived in 3 boxes. I spent the night cleaning and assembling a boat that had clearly been in storage for 20 plus years.

As it turns out two person Klepper has been making kayaks for nearly 90 years and they also convert to a sailing craft that can sail upwind! We do not currently have the sail as there are more immediate things to attend to. It turns out that Matilda (named in honor of Christine's gMa) is from the 60's. This means that the bottom of the canvas hull is coated in vulcanized rubber. This is one design flaw that has been corrected over the years, they are now coated in hyperlon.

After figuring out how to assemble a boat (with out instructions!, although we found the original instructions on line) Matilda was ready for a fresh water test. This Klepper Aerius is a boat that has been taken across the Atlantic ocean and around the Arctic and Antarctic pole's, so it is certainly a sea worthy craft. Without a spray skirt and no clear idea of if this boat floated/leaked etc. we took it to some calm inland waters and paddled up a stream. It worked great and now I have a project boat!

The frame inside the canvas hull.

The assembly process.

Friday, February 13, 2009

outgoing mail

Mark Gleicher and myself send snail mail. In the interest of economy we resend the same mail.

Electronic Music

So I remember the day when I was thinking that electronic music would be so much easier because after you finish the piece it is done. While that certainly looks obvious from the surface it overlooks a huge reality.

I was reading a paper "Computer Music. Why?" by Jean-Claude Risset and he notes that one of the reasons that he began composing electronic music is the ability to build timbre as opposed to work with timbre as it is in existing instruments. I share this opinion and it is largely what brought me to Santa Barbara, the desire to get at the atomic level of timbre. Ironicaly I find that now that I am able to exert all of this control and don't have to engage with any other human, there is no limit to the amount of time one has to continue reworking a sound. I wonder from time to time, about pieces that I believe to be done. I know that I feel them to be done and that they represent all that I could do at the time I was creating that piece, but is that enough to convince my mind that it is really complete? Especially when at any moment I can open it a sound editor and treat it anew.

When I look at my full 140 GigaByte hard drive, I often wonder what sounds are contained there-in. Honestly, I have so many experiments and ideas archived, I have lost sight of them all. I suppose that is why it is so wonderful to have everything published on the web and it reminds me again that I need to place more files online.

This past week and this coming week are extremely busy. This coming Friday through Sunday there will be an Electronic Music Festival that I helped to organize and pulling together the last of the details is an amazing amount of work. The festival is going to feature 3 invited guests, Max Mathews, John Chowning and Jean-Claude Risset. In addition to the invited guests the three evenings of concerts will also include; Curtis Roads, JoAnn Kuchera-Morin and Clarence Barlow.

The concert Breakdown looks like this

Friday Feb 20 2009 7PM
Concert One : Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall
Kuchera-Morin : Aquaforms
Risset : Sud
Mathews : Tensor Love
Chowning : Phoné
Roads : Touche pas

Saturday Feb 21 2009 7PM
Concert Two : Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall
Chowning : Stria (w/ projection)
Roads : Sculptor (w/ projection)
Risset : Mutations (w/ projection)
Mathews : Drippsody Phased
Risset : Duet for One Pianist
Barlow Approximating Pi

Sunday Feb 22 2009 7PM
Concert Three : Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall
Kuchera-Morin : timeandagain
Barlow : Sinophony II
Mathews : Chowning Phased
Risset : Resonant Spaces
Roads : Pictor Alpha

and the Lecture schedule is this

Saturday Feb 21 2009 2PM
Afternoon Lectures (lasting 2 hours total) Geiringer Hall
Lecture One : Mathews "Phaser Filters and Their Use to Modify Timbres"

Lecture Two : Chowning "Roots and Amplifers"

Sunday Feb 22 2009 2PM
Afternoon Lectures (lasting 2 hours total) Geiringer Hall
Lecture One : Risset : "My use of the computer to make music : synthesis, processing, mixed works and real-time interaction."

Lecture Two :ROUNDTABLE :: Pioneers of Electronic Music, observations on the development and personal perspectives. Barlow (chair), Chowning, Kuchera-Morin, Mathews, Risset, Roads.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Max Neuhaus

Last week Max Neuhaus passed away. During my first two years here in Santa Barbara I became good friends with Cory P Mathews who was/is devoting his dissertation to Max's work. Cory organized events, lectures and the such all to ask the question about the field of SoundArt. Watching a video about what is an installation and what is a concert piece last night I came to reflect on all that pioneers like Max Neuhaus have done for others.

Flipping through the internet this AM I was looking for something interesting and inspiring to read. Barring the fire of the hotel by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren in Beijing, before it opened, there was really little out there. I went to Sequenza21 and tapped into a discussion about the "How have notation programs effected the aesthetic of your music." I know that I should not read these things, but then again, I was also interested in flaming buildings this AM, so clearly, my mind was soft. So I proceeded to flip through the comments and while there were a couple that were insightful and helped to inspire my brain to think, the majority of them said nothing. As the conversation wound it's way through dribble about how "I am a post minimalist and computers have no effect on me..." There it lead to how synthesizers and now these programs like MAX have had an effect and then, and offhand comment,"Who is this MAX guy anyway?"

WOW! I suppose you could be writing music out by hand sitting in front of piano and have no idea who Max Mathews is. Then it began to occur to me what someone like Max Neuhaus went through when he committed "career suicide."

“But at a certain point, I started having these other ideas. I tried to do both at the same time, but … the better musician I was, the more people were convinced that what I was doing (with experiments in sound installation) was music, so to speak. So in a way, I had to commit career suicide as a musician.”
from an obit

Then I step back and I think of how a large component of his work comes from an internal monologue. Reading his website you gain a glimpse into the ideas and trajectories that he was pursuing. Most importantly, what stands out is that this was a journey he undertook out of an aesthetic conviction.

Our perception of space depends as much on what we hear as on what we see.

Friday, February 06, 2009

white rap

There are a lot of interesting people in the neighborhood.

Monday, February 02, 2009


The Rhythmic Reduction of Perceptual Groupings of Timbrel Events.

I was listening to Sibelius (1865-1957) Sixth Symphony Saturday night, in particular the 2nd movement. I must admit that I am struck by the classical nature of this symphony, almost like the seventh of Beethoven. But that aside, I noticed that I tend to follow works based on groups of timbre's. This of course is very obvious in one sense, for instance if you are trying to describe to a person how to listen to a piece of music and they are not familiar with the vulgate, so you talk about how the strings come in and then the brass etc.

What really got me thinking though is that when I first hear any piece that is new to me and that I have not been preconditioned to hear in terms of musical training, this type of listening predominates. For me, this is how I prefer to hear. I have imagined listening to timbre as a structural device and one that has it's own syntax and interactions. The act of reducing timbrel groups to rhythmic figures serves to lessen the implications of pitch and functional harmony. Of course, this ultimately can not be overlooked, but it is largely subservient to the timbrel groupings.

Inspired by this hearing I have begun making reductions of pieces wherein the the timbrel groups are notated as individual lines, all with the same pitch. The goal of these is to create reductions where the sections as I perceive them are evident. One reason for this is to look at the relative length of events and investigate the proportions. The other reason and for me the more important one is that I can then take these reductions and reconstitute them by adding timbre. I have undertaken this by keeping the pitch material limited and exploring what I can do with articulation and instrumental grouping. The term "Ready Mades" comes to mind. Having grown up in the 80's "Just add water" also comes to mind.