My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

Live Classical Remix

Snatched from the radio, rendered on a Digitakt

What might be a bowed cello or, perhaps, a deep horn opens this track solemnly. The quick initiation of a repeating fragment, the appearance of an audible seam where a loop ends and then again begins, makes it clear this is a remix. What it is is the musician taking a bit of classical music recorded off the radio, and through improvisation in one sitting layering and reworking it into something else entirely.

It is literally one sitting, which we know because the track appears as a video, documentation of a musician coming up to speed on a relatively new piece of equipment. The instrument is the Digitakt, a drum machine and sampler from the company Elektron. You don’t need to know the Digitakt’s interface in order to correlate some of the live actions with what we’re hearing. Often it’s self-evident, as when, around the 2:00 mark, one sample is slowed ever so slightly, or at the end when the volume decreases for a slow fade out.

The strings are the majority of the piece. They are sequenced to avoid any easy sense of metrical certainty, and they are copied and pasted well beyond the number of players present on the original recording. Remixing is like magic: smoke (filters) and mirrors (sampling). The result is a digital fantasia, material mixed as the memory might, favorite snatches on repeat, connections and contrasts between formerly sequential elements emphasized through simultaneity.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted on the corduroyfarmer YouTube.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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