Bucket Factory
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
  New music by Matt Carlson - Context

"Context" is a string trio (2 violins and cello) I wrote this spring, but I only recently received a recording of it. There's something strange about writing a piece of music and then waiting almost 6 months to hear it. It was performed in Seattle at Cornish College of the Arts in April.

The previous piece I'd done for string ensemble was a sort of rhythmic minimalist piece, which in some was I felt wasn't exactly idiomatic for strings. What is idiomatic for strings? Well, strings can hold notes for a long time, and are capable of playing different successive chords in perfect intonation. So that's the basic framework I set out to work in.

The main idea for the piece is that notes only have meaning when functioning in relationship to other notes. So chords are sounded, then notes drop out and the remaining notes that are left "hanging" sort of lose their meaning (or at least it changes). Then new notes are added which change the context for which those notes were heard, and thus their function, etc.

Also, I've always felt that dissonance is most effective when balanced with consonance so I tried to strike an appropriate balance of consonance and dissonance. Related to that, why is it a given that dissonance is a signifier of intensity or even anger and hostility? Why can't dissonance also be tranquil? So in this piece the dissonances are always played very delicately and quiet, while it is the consonant chords that are played loud and intensely.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy:

Matt Carlson - Context
Friday, August 24, 2007
  No West Media
Jason E. Anderson and Cristin Miller have uploaded videos of nearly every performance of this year's No West improvised music festival. Although the sound leaves something to be desired the videos are a very nice document. And they're promising better recorded, audio only versions soon. View the videos at the No West website.

There is also a Flickr group featuring photos of the festivals from the past 3 years.

BONUS recently recorded about 5 hours of new music and we're considering releasing something. Also Zac and I have been hard at work on the new Parenthetical Girls album, which should be out by the end of the year.

This weekend I will be in Seattle recording a piece by Gust Burns at Jack Straw studios.
Friday, August 17, 2007
  No West improvised music festival this weekend

It's time for the 3rd annual No West festival of improvised music from the Northwest!

There are shows in Seattle on Saturday and Portland on Sunday, which feature some 36 experimental musicians and improvisers from Seattle, Portland, Olympia, Vancouver BC, the Bay Area, NYC, and Tokyo.

The Seattle show is at 7pm in the Chapel at the Good Shepard Center in Wallingford (4649 Sunnyside Ave. N just south of 50th St., one block east of Meridian)

PDX show is also at 7pm at the Portland Art Center (32 NW 5th Avenue & Couch)

for more info including full list of performers and detailed scheduling, see here.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
  New Music by Matt Carlson - The Thing, Itself

The Thing, Itself is the last of my recent series of new electronic music. It is actually the most electro-acoustic of the pieces, as it is made of up recordings of acoustic and electronic sound. The piece began as two different ideas which I ended up combining into one. The first idea was to make a piece that was entirely made up of the noise that is inherent to recording equipment, the sound that one normally tries to minimize when recording. The second idea was to make a piece that is entirely made up of the sounds of a microphone touching different objects. I liked the idea of hearing the music that the equipment makes, of letting the technology make the music. I was also interested in Morton Feldman's comment that he thought of his pieces as "priming the canvas" with sound. I ended up deciding to "prime the canvas" with the recording noise, which would be punctuated by the microphone sounds.

The piece deals with the balance of intention. Many elements are made up of unintentional sounds, such as the sounds that crept in from the field recordings, but these sounds are included intentionally. There is a theme of making a piece out of the things that I usually try to eliminate, embracing what normally bothers me about recording (about half of the field recordings are purposely recorded at low bit rates).

Paradoxically, all this "neutral" sound was mixed in a very active and elaborate manner. This set up another theoretical pair of action vs. restraint. While I recorded the microphone sounds I tried to use as much restraint as possible, but I used so many different sounds that the combination of them ended up being quite active (so much so that I actually cut a lot of the sounds out in the mix).

Anyway, let me know what you think. It may be my last electro-acoustic piece for a while as I'm currently pretty involved in other things.

This should be listened to relatively quietly.

Matt Carlson - The Thing, Itself
Sunday, August 05, 2007
  Parenthetical Girls show Tuesday 8/7
Parenthetical Girls will be performing music with Soft Circle (ex-Black Dice), High Places, & Lucky Dragons.

The show will take place at on Tuesday night at Valentine's.
232 SW Ankeny St.
Portland, OR
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