neuron grains, spatial vibrations, inharmonic sine tones – and also a string quartet!

The following is a project update I published on my NewMusicUSA project page:

There is so much wonderful instrument(s)+electronics repertoire in which acoustic and electronic sounds are continuously interwoven, each part of one set of musical ideas. I wanted to take a different approach in this piece, however, for the sake of representing both commentary and conflict. The quartet and the electronic playback are resolutely independent musical worlds, each overlapping with the other for only portions of the piece.

In the electronic part, I’m trying to create a 3D depiction of an occasionally overloaded neurological space, with odd, highly active sounds surrounding the listener. It’s largely a soundscape, however, where precise alignments are less important. The SoundCloud link contains several stereo-reduced excerpts from this sound world. (Some of these underlay the quartet, but most are for electronics alone.)

Here’s a general description of some of the sounds you’ll hear:

  • direct sonification of the neuron pulses (white noise)
  • filtered, drastically slowed down neuron pulses
  • neuron data manipulating the pitch of justly tuned odd partials of Bb
  • granulation, with neuron data controlling speed
  • fragments of various string samples from various sources
  • frequency and/or amplitude convolution of all of these sounds

The quartet is meant to provide commentary on this crazy neurological space. There are a few bridges between acoustic and electronic; these include the transcribed rhythm of neuron pulses that appears in the quartet part (page 3, bar 36, vla and elsewhere) and ephemeral string samples in the electronics. But the quartet – particularly towards the end – becomes a refuge external to the electronics as it flirts with consonance and tonality.

Some quartet score excerpts are here. I’d love to hear what you think!

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