"Moon Joker" [4.8 MB .mp3]
My second experiment in converting a lengthy atonal work into a short tonal work. The first cut up maestro was Stockhausen; this one is the original Ahr-nuld (Schoenberg).
I took snippets from a vinyl version of Pierrot Lunaire, op. 21, then looped, layered, and timestretched them onto a 120 bpm timeline/grid.
This is a raw, possible first draft. Normally if something feels missing percussion or reverb would be added. Here the clips were left unenhanced, including all the room tone, artifacts, turntable noise, and hiss from increasing gain on very quiet passages. Hours went into manually de-clicking the loudest pops from the vinyl, but no de-noising or de-crackling software was used (it's expensive!). The remaining noise then becomes part of the piece, in some cases adding rhythmic interest without the need for extraneous percussion.
In his liner notes for the Nonesuch edition of Pierrot Lunaire, Charles Wuorinen describes the work as a culmination of Schoenberg's "contextually atonal" works before the arrival of the composer's 12-tone system. Wuorinen's definition of contextual atonality isn't very clear -- he seems to be saying that each work has its own rules of tonality, as opposed to the Western canon's rules up to that point (1912). He says that Schoenberg made intuitive, ad hoc choices in the arrangement of notes and phrases, causing the music to be unpredictable from minute to minute, while unified by the poetic text and the organization of the work into sections.
Nevertheless, individual runs of notes are quite musical, when de- or re-contextualized. I made 24 clips of varying lengths, and ended up using most of them. Phrases from different sections "stacked" surprisingly well -- that is, shared the same key signature without having to transpose notes.
Why do this? Software makes tonal experiments possible without having to hire musicians. And the noise component adds new timbres and content. Ultimately, though, it's low grade revenge porn.