She Closes Her Sister With Heavy Bones, for electric guitar and string quartet; Machinecore, for solo electric guitar and computer; Tube Mouth Bow String, for string quartet, talkboxes, and harmonizer pedals; What Sheep Herd, for string quartet and computer; Just a Voice That Bothered Him, for string quartet
Nick Didkovsky electric guitar, tabletop guitar, homebrew software Sirius String Quartet: Gregor Huebner, Meg Okura, violins; Ron Lawrence, viola; Dave Eggar, cello Special guest Barbara Benary - Chung Hu on What Sheep Herd
These pieces are about the details of musical evolution that emerge from rule-based compositional systems. Using electric guitar, string quartet, electronics, and computer software, we explored territories held together by systems of agreements, forms specified in software, real-time musical choices, and notation.
Two of the compositions here, She Closes Her Sister With Heavy Bones and What Sheep Herd, are process pieces whose scores fit very economically on one page. Each score specifies melodic material and a short set of rules. The music precipitates from the interaction between the score¹s specifications and the decisions that the musicians make during performance. By contrast, Tube Mouth Bow String is a through-composed piece which notates foot pedal movements, vocal behavior, and bowed string performance, overflowing very uneconomically onto many pages which we pasted onto large poster boards and set before each player. Though this piece leaves no real-time performance decisions to the ensemble, Tube Mouth is a process piece in a very real sense, as the process was first specified, executed, and auditioned in software, and finally transcribed to common music notation for live performers. Improvisation (simultaneously the easiest and the most difficult of all real-time process pieces to perform) is included here as well, with a solo MachineCore performance providing a bridge between She Closes and Tube Mouth. Closing the CD, Just a Voice That Bothered Him sounds like it could have been composed systematically but evades rules instead, being composed intuitively by ear. The piece emerged in opposition to one vividly frustrating weekend of fruitless systematic composition, and for that, gets the last word.