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Talking Drum

Artist: Chris Brown
Chris Brown - Talking Drum CD
Label: Pogus
Regular Price: $13.95
On Sale For: $5.58 
Year: 2005
Format: CD


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This compilation/composition documents nearly a decade of work that began with the recording of dense sonic environments, both 'natural' and urban. Talking Drum is an interactive installation made with four networked laptop computers programmed to explore cyclical polyrhythms in large acoustic spaces. While the performance of the entire system is synchronized by one computer, each computer station generates independent results using genetic-programming algorithms which are affected by acoustic musicians' performances. Each station in the space "grows" its own rhythmic response to the situation, like similar plants growing differently in adjustment to their locations in an environment. The musicians improvise with the rhythms, interacting with the response of the computers they play next to, and the whole is a quartet of these human-machine duets.

This recording compiles moments from these performances, and the recordings that inspired their creation, into one continuous piece. Electronic music is normally thought of as a medium emphasizing unlimited access to timbre - I think this is often over-emphasized, and that, at its best, it changes our experience of space. The traditional African talking drums are played held under the arms so that their laces can be squeezed to change the pitch of the drum-head as rhythms are played. The changing pitches and rhythms imitate patterns of the tonal languages of West Africa, and can be used like musical telephony to communicate over long distances. This recording follows this design, creating conversations between different places, environments, people, rituals, and parties on a global scale.

Chris Brown
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