Jerry Hunt update

jerry hunt performance

Added to other sites (blogroll): a page dedicated to the late Texas-based composer Jerry Hunt.
The page has been mentioned here a couple of times but it seems to have expanded over the years with more content, including some amazing interviews and a full, up to date discography/videography.
Bandcamp has an audio excerpt from a Hunt performance available for seven bucks, which includes a nice PDF brochure with photos (such as the above) and explanations.
I think about Hunt frequently. I saw him perform three times in the early '90s and this website gives some helpful background on his methods. His stage persona -- an unlikely, square-looking shaman waving strange wands at the audience -- sticks in the mind, but his real interest was in a flow of unpredictable musical events, with the physical gestures (and the objects in his hands) acting as focal points, or as he put it, seeds for audience attention. As for the unpredictability of his gestures, he says:

Every piece I've ever done has involved what I regard as a rational translation of something that's happening in the space (picked up through sensors) into a consistent rational schedule of changes. I don't do direct translation, which I think is vulgar after three minutes. It's fascinating to watch somebody go like this (wave arm) and hear a sound connected with it for a minute or two, but then it becomes compositionally appalling after a while. It's like watching etch-a-sketch, you know, it's wonderful for a few minutes and then it limits itself. It becomes so self limiting that no matter what you do in way of effects, it just gets increasingly self-defining until it just keeps getting tighter and tighter and after 30 minutes you're almost ready to scream, because you say, I got the idea. Oh hey, he did a new sound. I got the idea. Oh hey, he did a new sound. I got the idea ... (etc.) That's all you can think of at a certain point. So, I wanted to stay away from that.

As an antidote to this, Hunt developed systems, originally for tape cassettes and later digitally, for how certain sounds could be triggered at certain times (or not triggered -- accidents were built into the process) as he moved around the stage. In the interviews he goes into detail about how he used time codes on the tapes, and external randomization sources such as alchemical texts, to achieve this. In his formal writing about the pieces he relied on scientific-sounding jargon to mystify the proceedings, but in the interviews he is much clearer, and very entertaining with his Texan gift for gab.

some editing after publication

"iiscla," by disconnector

"iiscla" is a track from disconnector's new release, muitvl.

Thumbnail review: Trashcan-style beats with reverb; more electro than sample-driven, with some glitch and drill-n-bass elements. Full- and crisp-sounding production.


Funkstörung - "A Bottle, A Box And A Mic" [hooktube]

Phoenecia - "Suite D256" [youtube because for some reason the hooktube link was causing crimeflare to "check your browser"]

more disconnector

"Harpsichord Solo (Poulenc Remix)"

"Harpsichord Solo (Poulenc Remix)" [2.9 MB .mp3]

Made these harpsichord samples a few years ago, from a vinyl version of Francis Poulenc's Concert champĂȘtre. This remix includes some passages "straight" except for tempo changes and a middle section where the sampler does its thing. I don't own the rights, fair use, etc. (Poulenc himself was a known "borrower.") This hybrid exists as a thought-experiment-hopefully-with-entertainment-value.

"Moon Joker"

"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.

happy songs for pandemic

UK drum-and-bass-era musician Tony Colman shines for his jazz chops and high level of technical polish. Earlier in the '90s he played guitar and keyboards for Izit, featuring bellbottom style a la Deee-Lite and vocal pop songs on the acid jazz periphery.


The two tunes below are infectious in the non-coronavirus sense of having excellent songwriting (by Colman) and mellifluous singing (I believe by Nicola Bright-Thomas):

One by One [hooktube]

Don't Give Up Now [hooktube]