hardware:   Dell Dimension XPS/Linux, Apple iMac/OS9
software:   RTcmix, Mix, max/msp, Digital Performer 3

One of the aspects of contemporary academic music that drives me crazy is the way it continually recycles the worst aspects of high modernism; an elitist intellectual insularity pasted onto a self-defined Serious Art Culture. If academia could function primarily as a place for alternative musical explorations, all would be cool, but all too often our desire for community as represented through our music turns into a rhetoric of good music (i.e. ours is better than ...). Heck, I can surely understand this drive. Part of my own motivation for doing this web-page extravaganza is to pretend to myself that there are other people who might be interested in sharing my sounds.

The latest gasp of this enclosing modernism (c. early 2001) was so-called "spectral" music, a set of knee-jerk new music gestures applied to a semi-random collection of pitches (but oh-so-scientistically justifed pitches!). When Deborah Bradley asked me to compose a piece for the Moebius Ensemble along with a group of my faculty colleagues, I decided to write my own "spectral" piece in which the tape part consisted of pretty much nothing but timbral modifications to a single pitch (D, obviously). "Spectral", indeed.

The piece was also motivated by my fooling with some new Digital Performer MIDI synths, and I was able to collect a large set of "spectra" by recording the different instruments. I used RTcmix scripts to generate the changing timbral pedal note throughout the piece. The big distorto-guitar thing at the beginning and the horn-like sound at the end are from the (then) newly-released PeRColate set of physical-model objects for Max/MSP done by Dan Trueman and Luke Dubois (based on Perry Cook and Gary Scavone's STK: Synthesis ToolKit, especially the [blotar~].

It was actually very enjoyable to do, despite my apparent curmudgeonliness in this commentary. Reiko Uchida played the piano part for the premiere, and she reminded me what real musical talent can do. I was amazed! Several years later, Doug Geers asked me to do the piece for his 2004 SPARK Festival of Electronic Music and Art. I decided just for fun to play the piano part myself. Since I'm not really good enough to play what I had written for Reiko, I improvised the piano part. Doug gave me a recording of it and I decided to put it on-line also.