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Thea Farhadian’s Digitized Viola MP3

Composer Thea Farhadian teamed up with viola player Katrina Wreede for Farhadian’s 2007 piece Improvisation No. 7, a song-length excerpt of which is available for download (MP3) from her website, theafarhadian.com. (That is to say, it’s an excerpt substantive enough to be listenable to on its own.)

String instruments are a popular foil to the machinations of electronic composers, perhaps because they’re capable of adequate chordal playing as to be sonically complex, yet they can still serve as a distinct solo thread in a performance. Here, Weede’s viola is heard in various contexts, at times surrounded by electronic detritus, at others reflected through some algorithmic mirror. The most ear-catching moments involve the near-simultaneity of the viola’s multi-note runs being contrasted with the digital crunch of data caught mid-process. The opening of the recording is especially fine — the electronics sound like sparks shooting from the viola while Wreede plays.

More info on Farhadian at theafarhadian.com and on Katrina Wreede, a former member of the Turtle Island String Quartet, at katrinawreede.com. (I’m not certain if she was in the Quartet at the time, but Turtle Island committed to disc some of the best digitally-accompanied string music when they performed Gary Chang’s score to the 1990 film Shock to the System.)

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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