Cipher - Black Book

CP2016: Day 4 – Listening + ciphering

It’s been a day of filling in forms here. Cannot contain my excitement. So I’ve counteracted that with raiding bits of my fairly-recently-imported massive CD library for ideas. Not sure that I’ve really found any so far, but it’s nice to be listening to things again.

I started with Martin Wesley-Smith’s Wattamolla Red which is an album of his fairly early electronic music. I have to say that while I love much of Martin’s work, this album just wasn’t doing it for me. Alas, I felt that this work showed its age a bit. More in the sounds used than the composition itself, but it just didn’t spark anything.

Next up: Michael Gordon’s Trance (large ensemble + audio playback) which I listened to fairly obsessively to and from work and uni over the winter of, I think, 2003? Or thereabouts. And haven’t listened to since. Still awesome and I’m remembering why I was so mad about minimalism and wondering why I’ve listened to so little of it for so long. I love how this piece ties my brain up in knots. The way the parts interact is somehow quite disorientating in an awesome way.

I actually seem to have very little in the way of pieces for instrument + electronics. Quite a bit of electronic/electroacoustic music, some for instruments + tape, but very little interacting with a live electronic part. So I’ve resorted to Google and come up with the following to work my way through finding and listening to (many raided from Arne Deforce’s very interesting repertoire list):

Karlheinz Essl: Sequitur IV which records and plays back the performer’s playing to create a canonic structure

Richard Barrett: Blattwerk, Nacht und Traume, life-form

Luc Brewaeys: Black Rock Unfolding

Raphael Cendo: Foris

Cédric Dambrain: Pure

Jonathan Harvey: Advaya

Kaija Saariaho: Petals, Près

Karlheinz Stockhausen: Pole

Also, this stuck its hand up and waved at me and golly gosh yes. So simple. So gorgeous:

I’ve also been thinking about pitch material. I find it easiest to start by working with a cipher these days rather than trying to conjure something out of thin air, but without a title for the piece or a general topic, I’d been a bit stuck on this. So given the feeling of connection with my sketchbook project Black Book which I mentioned the other day, I shoved that into the cipher and came up with this:

B-flat / F-sharp / A / C / E-sharp — B-flat / C-flat / C-flat / E-sharp

which actually has quite a lovely melancholy shape to it. I’m not sure it’s what I’ll stick with but it’s a starting point I don’t hate and should enable me to get cracking on some actual notes over the next few days. The plan is to have some written notes and at least a rough idea of how to use Max/MSP before houseguest arrives on Friday…

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