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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Music for Typewriter, Tuba, and Electronics (MP3s)

Things Suspended Converge and Fall by Katherine Young is seven interrelated pieces with a variety of settings. This is contemporary classical music in the academic tradition, though from an academe (Wesleyan) that has long employed no less outward bound a musician as Anthony Braxton as a professor. There’s the full ensemble, which calls for 20 musicians on several more instruments, ranging from viola and violin to trumpet and percussion to Wurlitzer electric piano and Max/MSP-powered “live electronics.” And there are numerous chamber-music subsets, including several that employ the typewriter.

“Archery Instead of Bowling (DeLuxe Edition)” is scored for typewriter, piano, and live electronics, though the latter two materials are almost invisible against the only recently familiar but today antique sound of keys triggering the imprint of letters, digits, and punctuation on paper (MP3). There’s something uniquely pleasurable in hearing the typerwriter eke out its rudimentary semblance of rhythm and melody, punctuated, expectedly but entertainingly, by the ping of a carriage return.

Also recommended is a duo for electric piano and tuba, titled “Underworld (Dancing),” in which both instruments play fragile baubles that hint at melody, each occasionally providing a drone-like backing to the other (MP3).

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The music was recorded live in performance at Wesleyan University Crowell Concert Hall, on April 13, 2008, and recently released on the netlabel mandorla.com.mx. Performers include Emily Manzo on electric piano, Phillip Schulze and Ivan Naranjo on live electronics (Max/MXP and Supercollider respectively), and Brian Parks on piano and typewriter. (Two additional typewriters are employed on other ensemble pieces.)

More on the composer at katherineyoung.info and katherineyoung.blogspot.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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