Concerto No. 4 in J Minor

My composition is an extension of my sonic cinematic project, in which I explored the narrative qualities of noise in music.  I used the original composition from that project as the basis for this one, and simply edited it to make it more rhythmic and added to it.  I used some effects from reaper and initially was going to do the entire composition on Reaper and using only the vocals.  I created half of a piece like this and it was interesting, then decided to work with Garageband as well and used some of the midi instruments and drum effects from GB to go along with the vocal composition.  Overall, this was a very interesting project for me to do since I don’t have a lot of experience with midi, but it was a lot of fun to learn more about it, and I really like using the GB drums as well.

Conceptually, this piece is definitely more of a composition than my previous sound & narrative project.  Where that one was really just a bunch of clips, I went out of my way and comfort zone to create a piece that really feels like music even though it rides on a vocal rhythm that would usually have been edited out.  I think the breaths sometimes even say more than the words between them, and this piece does a good job of elevating the breathing to the position of actual music or lyrics in a way that my original project didn’t quite do.



For my project, I looked at dissonance.  I am in the noise group, and I used my electric guitar to create a noisy song.  I was particularly influenced by the Theater of Eternal Music and how they used nontraditional chords and melodies to create an atmosphere as well as a song.  In order to make these chords easier for me, I created my own tuning.  At first, I experimented with using quarter-tones and notes in between notes for this tuning, but ultimately decided that using real notes would make for a better-sounding (in my opinion) song.  The tuning I ultimately came up with is:


In order to create this tuning, I used three sets of two dissonant strings (regular and sharp) so that I can easily play these chords.  The end result is really hard for me to play – at least a few measures of it.  I used a drum backing track to stay on time, and added in sirens from Silent Hill because they matched the key and sound nice with some of the guitar parts.  The sirens were found on YouTube.  Ultimately, I think that my project shows just how easy it is to play edgy sounds if you experiment with tuning.

In addition, here is my initial composition in which I used a tuning comprised of nontraditional notes.  Although I was not as satisfied with this one, it is more interesting in the sense that I really had to try to create a melody given that the notes I was using did not work together melodically very well.  Perhaps I will continue to push this composition, or style of composition, into something in the future.

In Between

My project emphasizes the diegetic noise of the music recording process that is unrelated to, but also a byproduct of, the notes played.  I use music from two different artists that leave this noise in their music after the production process.  The first track uses the first three songs from the Chariot’s 2004 album Everything Is Alive, Everything Is Breathing, Nothing Is Dead, And Nothing Is Breathing,” and four select songs from Immortal Technique’s album Revolutionary Volume 2.  These artists were selected because they are not sterilized in the way that many artists today are after the production process, and so noises like guitar feedback and breathing can be clearly heard and separated out.  The first album was recorded live and so the quality is very messy, allowing for a greater emphasis on the diegetic space between the notes played.  My goal is to create a song out of the space in between notes that is traditionally silenced; in other words, to create a song out of silence and by removing the song, contrary to how contemporary music is often produced by removing the space between notes to bring out the staccato and make notes on either side sound impossibly crisp.  Miles Davis said, “music is the space between the notes. It’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play,” and I think that this is comes out in my project.


While my piece attempts to capture the sound of temperature changing, each individual sound is also the result of a change in temperature, from binaural microphone recording of ice cubes melting to the sounds of firecrackers, missiles, and atomic bombs.  Furthermore, there is a clear parallel between sounds from the “melting” stage and sounds from the “boiling” stage, which suggests that in terms of sound they are not that different.  Both involve chemical reactions, an increase in temperature or energy or movement creating noise.  Finally, all these sounds are similar in that we associate them with a certain temperature.  They are not like a ringtone or the noise of a train, which could be associated with either hot or cold temperatures, or something in the middle.  What makes it hard to associate them with a temperature here is the difficulty of distinguishing between noises at the same temperature because they overlap.  This overlap creates a noisy effect that is much the same at the “melting” stage as at the “boiling” stage.


You can hear the final project on YouTube here: