Improvisations with Varying Degrees of Restraint
for stereo sound // duration: 7'10"
Faced with the question of "what's this piece about?," my answer was to throw more material at it, and see (hear) what stuck, and then show it sticking. Initially, I developed a software instrument and recorded ten iteratively-layered improvisations, which then served as a backdrop or canvas for the piece. Shorter passages were then added to the mix, generated using a wide variety of techniques ranging from musical feature analysis to improvised electronic guitar. The process of working on the piece became a bit less haphazard in the striping away of material; by carving out silence and space, distinctions between the materials became possible, and ultimately, meaningful. To draw a connection with the visual arts, I often liken this way of composing to Gerhard Richter's method of painting large abstracts: "changing, eradicating, starting again, and so on, until its done."* Accordingly, in regards to the ever imminent destruction or transformation of the musical materials, issues of timing, pacing, and the articulation of form were some of the last things to be considered. I think of it as music in search of an idea, rather than music composed in response to one (what I normally do).
* Gerhard Richter, Panorama: A Retrospective (London: Tate Publishing, 2012), 17.