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tag: classical

The Flute in the Cellar

By Katie English of Halifax, West Yorkshire

Isnaj Dui is Katie English of Halifax, West Yorkshire. Her work generally focuses on the flute, which, along with other instruments, is transformed through unusual performance practice, including electronic processing. The track “Dean Clough Cellar” is named for the Halifax business and arts center “that was once the world’s largest carpet factory.” The piece is gestural, the flute heard as a series of looped, layered fragments amid the ritual clank of, perhaps, pots and pans. Over the course of nearly four minutes, the looping provides a mechanical inflection to the flute, helping form a complementary pairing with the more percussive material.

More on Katie English / Isnaj Dui at and and at the label she runs, FBox ( A note accompanying “Dean Clough Cellar” says it was originally recorded in October 2014 for the awards show of the Dead Albatross Music Prize (

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A Latinate Bach

A cross-cultural probing by Ethan Hein

What is great about Ethan Hein’s participation in the public discussion of music isn’t simply that he writes exuberantly about the making, the distribution, and the consumption of his subject, or that he ably employs images to point out the Venn Diagram that is funk or the constellation of pop that orbits a single sampling data point, but that on top of it all, he uses music itself to pursue ideas. For example, he explored a Bach invention by using MIDI to apply the note sequence to the Latin percussion pack that is part of the popular music software suite Ableton. The effort is doubly effective because in addition to sounding out Bach’s classical piece in what, cultural context might suggest, is a more populist instrumental realm, Hein also connects back to the piano being, for all intents and purposes, a well-tuned percussion instrument itself:

Here for reference is the Bach in question performed on, you know, a piano:

Hein’s work originally posted for free download at More from Hein at

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Violin in the Machine

And vice versa, from Leeds-based Chrissie Caulfield

The track “Weavezyme” is Chrissie Caulfield turning noise into music, specifically machine noise, and specifically something with a distant yet clinging association to classical music. The track is from a recent collection, titled Mechanisms, in which Caulfield’s violin and, to a lesser degree, cello join up with transformed recordings of machinery in action — here sodden thud and distant clank and rumbling drone. She notes in a brief accompanying statement, “This is an album based loosely on ‘mechanisms’ of various kinds. Many of the tracks feature actual mechanical noises, but some are just a nod to classical compositional ‘mechanisms’ or structures.” That sentence makes a helpful parallel to the concept of language itself being a form of technology.

Track originally posted at The album Mechanisms is streamable in full and available at “name your price” on, via Bandcamp. More from Caulfield, who is based in Leeds, England, at and

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Piano Phase Is Urban Noir

A Reichian piece by J.C. Combs

The title for J.C. Combs’ simple piano piece references the beading rhythmic experiments of famed minimalist composer Steve Reich. But it arguably has as much Gershwin in it as it does Reich. “Phase Study for Paul Muller” manages a small amount of swagger, a fair measure of swing. The driving pulse of the music has the busy urban nightscape quality of Reich’s early works in this manner, where musical lines of close derivation create sonic moiré patterns. Perhaps its the compact length, at barely three minutes, but Combs’ seems bustling and jaunty, rather than hallucinogenic and geometric.

Track originally posted for free download at More from Combs, who is based in Seattle, Washington, at

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She Steadies the Noises with Her Harmonium

"External Cabinet" by Yiva Lund Bergner


The harmonium is the steadying presence in “External Cabinet” by Yiva Lund Bergner. Amid her sheer, chilling, buzz-saw noise, and fragile splinters of sharp, momentary bursts, and whirligig juts, and rattly percussive overlays, there is the settling calmness of gently speculative keyboard movements. The organ sound provides an underlying drone that in turn serves as a glue for the other constituent parts.

The piece is fully scored for harmonium and electronics, and the score is available for download as a PDF from her website. The detail shown below, from the first page of the score, describes how the percussive elements, as the composition’s title suggests, are the result of using the harmonium casing as an instrument unto itself.


More from Bergner, who hails from Sweden and currently lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, at

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