Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Concert April 12

Here's our poster. Can someone make a Facebook event and invite a million people?

Notes from Class today

To do:
Pendulum: Materials for 4 structures, one built for Thursday, Sound Design (Peter, Alex, Mac), KRKs (Mac/Professor Gurevich), 1/8 to ¼ cables,

Sonz 4 Stremin Lite: Adjust music to fit video, create a curve in the audio, Peter practice

Cow Pong: build more this weekend

1+1: soldering, phone integration, table (Professor Gurevich) , contact mics, C/G-clamps (Max)

Meeting Points: Rehearse, Lena Learn, Pedal from Roger (Gabe)

1960: New Video (Eric), Rehearse

For Thursday: 1+1, 1960 (Instruments!), Pendulum Music (Professor Gurevich: KRKs), Songs for Streaming Light

For Tuesday: Meeting Points, Cow Pong

Songs for streaming light: Mac’s mac
Cow Pong: Simon
Meeting Points: Peter
1960: Simon

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sunrise Video (first edit)

Hey, everyone.
Check out the video I made with today's sunrise footage:

This is probably at the limit of my current abilities and available time, so if anyone knows how to make it better, let me know. I can make small adjustments (color, speed, exposure), but Final Cut can't make cleaner crops around each photo (the cropping rotates with the image, so straightening the pic also means that the cropping boundary is rotated, hence the crookedness).


P.S. I slowed the footage to 50% and then cropped off extraneous stuff at the beginning and end. It could theoretically be longer, although there's not much more "earlier" (i.e. undeveloped footage) to work with.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sunrise Location Scouting Update

Hey, everyone.

Somehow I was able to wake up very early this morning and got to north campus before sunrise.

I started out on the third floor of the Duderstadt looking out from the eastern windows near Design Lab 3. All I saw was another taller building, so I headed there next.
I think it was the IOE building.

Anyway, I headed up to the top floor, which was the General Motors Conference room. It was a weird place:

At some point I pressed a bunch of buttons on the wall trying to turn a light on, and it made a door on the other side of the room swing open.

Anyway, this was the view from there:

Pretty lame.

I did a bit more research and found that not only can you use this site to look up the elevation of a specific point in town, but a city official has already determined the highest point for us.

I think elevation is going to be the key here, since you cannot view the horizon directly from north campus. I'm going to check out the area mentioned in that site some time before next week. Let me know if you're interested in joining me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Whiz kid from Sierra Leone

To put some perspective on what we're doing, check out this self-taught maker from Sierra Leone.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


This thing is pretty sweet:

It's particularly fascinating to see a graphic representation of how much the sun's arc changes throughout the year.
The photo below is today's trajectory.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Some equipment updates

Hey, everyone.

Some good news about the cameras for the sunrise piece:
The Duderstadt Circulation desk has 8 decent Canon Vixia's (which I believe is the same model that I used to shoot the candle video).
We can check out 2 per person for 3 days, with tripods, IF we are put on the checkout list by an instructor.
I will send those instructions to Michael now so that he can give us checkout access.

I also did some webcam research and sent this model to Michael as a recommendation:
Logitech C170
I found a source on ebay for $11 refurbished models with free shipping. More than the $5 we were hoping, but after comparing several different models, I think this might be the minimum quality we want to go with (due to framerate limitations on cheaper cameras). Also, it's a UVC camera, so we can control the settings from within Max.

I will have to get back to you all on the monitors for the cameras to swing over.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Jitter video stream test

Hey, folks.
Here's a brief video I did to demonstrate the ability to stream 4 independent video sources to one computer. Meant for our video feedback version of Pendulum Music.
This was done over Mwireless, to boot.
Latency was pretty good: not good enough for a musical telematic performance where rhythmic integrity is important, but good enough for our purposes.

If you want to try it out, just download the Max/Jitter external and example patches here - this external is for realtime video compression and may not even be necessary if you're only doing one stream. The jit.net.send and jit.net.recv objects are the the key.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Oneohtrix Point Never

This is one of my favorite pieces of art right now, and while I'm sure some or most have seen it, this is for those who haven't.

The minimalism of this, and the seamless integration of music and visuals, is powerful in how a subjective "message" is clearly perceived, based on the life/perspective of the person experiencing it. I think it's important for us to remember how minimalism can be used as a compositional tool, as opposed to a checkbox or requirement.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014

Jitter Candle Test

My first legitimate attempt at something useful in Jitter.
It doesn't make sound yet, but it looks promising for our purposes.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

La Monte Young Composition 1960 #7

I was very intrigued by this particular composition when it was included on the handout we got in class a couple of weeks ago.

I imagined that the most literal translations of the piece would be either on non-sustaining instruments (i.e. piano) where the piece ended when the notes had naturally decayed, or electronic or other mechanical instruments with infinite sustain (i.e. organs or tone generators) that could go on as long as the performers see fit.

Sure enough, there are a handful of videos with performances on organs, keyboards, piano, etc.

The two below were my favorites and both eschewed the obvious interpretations mentioned above.

This first one is by a group called Blutwurst, which includes cello, viola, bass clarinet, trumpet, theremin, and accordion (though I don't know if all were utilized in this recording).

I think it would have been interesting enough to hear the natural fluctuations inherent in the instruments being used (re-attacks with natural tuning fluctuations, the imperfect tuning of the reeds in the accordion), but the group clearly made some intentional decisions regarding tuning and timbre throughout the piece.

The second one is for two massively amplified down-tuned electric guitars. Yeah, I'm predictable...
Here, the fluctuations of feedback frequencies based on location and instrument position are played with.
Full disclosure, I have not yet listened to the full 30+ minutes as of this posting, but I'm working on it right now!

Composition 1960 #7 from Cory Strand on Vimeo.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Aphex Twin Piano Pendulum

I suppose we could have the piano swinging over the mics instead of the mics swinging over the piano.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ann Southam

I was curious to see what kind of music has been put out by female minimalist composers and came across the music of Ann Southam. She was a canadian composer that wrote electroacoustic and acoustic music, frequently collaborating with dancers and dance troops. I listened to a variety of pieces, but really enjoyed several movements of her piano series, glass houses. Here are a two videos of really remarkable performances of Glass House 1 and 5:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I decided to pursue the music of La Monte Young in response to the assignment of posting something that I didn't know much about. His ideas have always struck me as particularly interesting, yet I have heard very little of his actual music. When I found The Tortoise, His Dreams, and Journeys, I was intrigued, particularly because he is performing with John Cale and Tony Conrad. The piece could easily be classified as both minimal and ambient, as it fills the entirely of fifteen minutes with interesting, sometimes pleasant sound. The minimalist aspect of this piece that I am most interested in is the long duration. When an audience is presented with a wall of sound that is relatively unchanging they are forced to identify and actively listen to the minute differences in pitch, tone, and other aspects of music that are generally glossed over in lieu of pattern and rhythm. This is the same concept used in many minimalist pieces I have been exposed to, including Reich's Piano Phase, Tony Conrad's piece that we listened to in class, and on a large scale, even Conrad's "movie" shares this quality of minimal music.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Minimalist Fusion

Since it's inception in the 60's, Minimalism has often been used as an influence by artists in other genres, specifically Rock in the 70's and 80's and all shades of experimental Electronic Music. Today, there are many groups standing on the shoulders of the original pioneers, blending many genres with Minimalism to say something relevant about RIGHT NOW. Fuck Buttons are one such group. As an electronic two-piece from England, they borrow from drone, post-rock, noise and electronic dance music, all of which have been at least partly born from Minimal music itself. Their insistence on repetition of phrase, gradual transformation, drone and a steady beat show that they make music from a very Minimalist place. When they combine this with their "nurture"- a Pop sensibility that comes from an awareness of the modern culture that they themselves grew up in, they create a beautiful "Minimalist Fusion".

Knee Play 1 from Einstein on the Beach

An un-staged performance of Knee Play 1 from Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach, in conjunction with the 2012 production.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jonny Greenwood plays Electric Counterpoint by Steve Reich

Here is one of my favorite minimalist pieces (Electric Counterpoint by Steve Reich) performed by one of my favorite guitar players. Jonny uses a variety of max patches as part of the performance to trigger certain events and store information.

Philip Glass

Discussion with Philip Glass/On his Retrospective

Philip Glass was one of the first minimalist composers I was exposed to several years ago. But when I saw him perform my senior year of highschool, it was the first time I really found myself interested in the music. I had the pleasure of seeing him in a very small and unusual setting- a one-room sanctuary shaped like a dome that fit no more than 25-30 people. The repetition in his music combined with the acoustics of the room and the somewhat religious setting made it one of the most all-encompassing atmospheres I've experienced.

The more I learned about him, the more intriguing I found his philosophies on music.  In addition, i started to see the ways he's informed by his background in science and the musical family he came from . While this brief interview with him doesn't cover much, i think it's an interesting jumping off point with a few thought-provoking points. Also, minimalism is referred to as "buddha rock" and Glass says that his music is "a little repetitive."

No-input mixer Arvo Part and drone metal

Alright, here's a two-fer.

First, something that probably more closely aligns with the scope of this ensemble:

'Fratres' pour console no-input (extrait) from Christian Carrière on Vimeo.

We've kind of got two levels of minimalism-ception going on here.

Compositionally, we hear aspects of minimalism in the original "Fratres" by Arvo Part. There are actually several versions of this piece, though according to Wikipedia, the most popular are the version for solo violin, string orchestra, percussion, and the one for violin and piano.
Here is the former:

Now, to my ears, this doesn't quite fall into the category of minimalism. There are indeed a limited number of chords used in the same pattern multiple times, and it's supposed to exemplify Part's Tintinnabuli method of composition (look it up). However, when these limited resources are put through so many variations and settings (that solo violin completely changes character multiple times, my favorite is the harmonics section, starts around 8:30), the stasis of nine repeating chord sequences is broken, and a sense of development and significant motion is implied.

The no-input mixer version, though admittedly very short, does away with any variation whatsoever and adds a new level of minimalism by reducing the source material to nothing more than what would normally be used only as part of the PA in an instrumental performance.

OK, now number two, only because I've got a soft spot in my heart for drone metal.
You could definitely argue that this totally fits into the realm of Electronic Chamber Music because the sounds (feedback, distortion, standing waves, etc) would not be possible without the use of electric guitar, massive amplification, and recording studio know-how.
Very long, very repetitive, chant-like vocals, absolutely intended as a meditative experience.
Unfortunately, I feel like heavy references to drug use diminish the impact of this piece as an aesthetic accomplishment, but we're musicians... we can see beyond cultural context in order to recognize the underlying art.

John Adams-China Gates

The 'gates' of the title refers to the change of mode - not the actual modes for each section per se, but rather, the exact moment of transition from one mode to the next. The image shown is the graph-form representation John provided as a rough visual guide to the gating sequence. The gating sequence clearly shows extended use of modes at the beginning and towards the end of the piece. 

The piece is gated poly-palindromically (offset); the bar structure within each mode is a reverse form of the same structure later in the piece. There are 3 main palindromic sections - the main one being the first 8 modes and the final 8 modes. The bar structure for the first eight is 15, 15, 12, 12, 8, 8, 4, 4, with the bar structure for the final 8 being 4, 4, 8, 8, 12, 12, 15, 15 (i.e. a mirror image of the first 8 modes). Other palindromes occur between modes 9-12 and modes 17-20, and the final pure palindrome being modes 13-14 and modes 24-25. However, there are some cross-modal palindromes throughout. The piece is made up of 33 modes in total - this meaning there is a defined central mode. The pre-central mode is, interestingly, the only mode to contain 3 bars. On paper this gate stands out prominently. How does this relate to music? Well, to the ear, the piece works into the middle, then unwinds itself again, almost like the unwinding of a double-helix.

Dieter Schnebel - Music to Read


Dieter Schnebel creates melodies that are meant to be read rather than played. They are virtual melodies in that the reader is supposed to come up with the melody in his head. These melodies are drawn as graphic scores.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Poll: Could you consider the music of Reggie Watts minimal?

In his live performances, comedian Reggie Watts frequently breaks into musical interludes by running his microphone through a loop pedal. Under the basis that these performances are limited exclusively to material that he can create vocally into a single microphone, I submit the question: To what extent could these performances be considered minimal?

Reggie Watts at TED

I admit, with this post I am probing the bounds of minimalism. I'd love to hear anything that people have to say in the comments section.

Poème Symphonique for 100 Metronomes

In November, 2007 I attended a rather memorable St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concert. While I enjoyed the orchestral music of Kurtág and Górecki, it was György Ligeti's Poème Symphonique for 100 Metronomes that has left a burning memory of the performance in my mind. Upon entering the concert hall, I was immediately struck by the string of metronomes surrounded the audience in a crescent. The performance was initiated as all one hundred metronomes, each set to a different tempo, were sent into motion by ensemble members. The result was an onslaught of polyrhythmic clicks, swelling in subtle waves. The sound reminded me of rain droplets hitting a tin roof. As the metronomes began to wind down, the texture thinned, and after about 15 minutes only a few remained until they stopped altogether.

I thought the piece was fantastic, though it wasn't until reading Tom Johnson's views on minimalism, as expressed in "Minimalism in Music: in search of a definition" that I now consider Poème Symphonique a piece of minimalist music. It is a great example of how complexity can be created through minimal means. I was reminded of Poème Symphonique by the polyrhythmic and textural qualities of our run through of Cow Pong in class, and find the comparison between the two pieces rather interesting.

Poème Symphonique was written in 1962 during Ligeti's brief involvement with the Fluxus movement, and was intended as a music critique of the narrow minded musical ideologies that he perceived at that time. The score is surprisingly detailed for a Fluxus piece, many of which were characterized by a few lines of text. Both the winding of the metronomes, as well as a period of silence are intended to be included in the performance of the piece, adding a silent element. In addition to sharing elements with what Johnson calls "silent music," it is also an example of process music, which has connections to Reich's work with phasing.

For some time, this piece was difficult to stage, as procuring a set of 100 identical pyramid shaped metronomes was a difficult endeavor. However, today one can rent a set of 100 metronomes, specifically tailored for this piece.

Here is a youtube performance, which involves an automated mechanism to initiate the metronomes simultaneously (skip to 1:30 for the start of the piece).

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cowbell Music

Electronic Chamber Music Instrument List

Ryan Shea - bass (upright and electric), guitar, ukulele, mandolin, voice
Jonah Gray - guitar, bass, keys, percussion, computers
Max Morrison - guitar, piano, voice
Mac Porter - guitar
Peter Littlejohn - saxes, piano, guitar, accordion, banjo, computers, etc.
Gabe Wilk - guitar, piano, MAX/MSP
Eric Sheffield - guitar, percussion, MAX/MSP, bass, trumpet
Alex Goldsmith - computer, voice
Simon Alexander-Adams - piano/keyboards
Lena Sutter - violin, guitar, banjo, mandolin, voice, electric bass, flute
Lance Shipp - piano, electric bass, guitar, drums, alto sax, voice

Let Ryan Shea know if there are any necessary changes or additions

Wednesday, January 8, 2014