16 thoughts on “1-Bit Symphony (Tristan Perich)

  1. The equipment still sounds like an alarm system – which is sad because I love finite automatons and would appreciate if they sound good.

      • The meaning of “sounds good” can be simply understood by its negation: it doesn’t when it is painful, something which is not a semiotic category but a physical response a body seeks to avoid.

        I guess the reason why the Terry Riley piece doesn’t work in an alarm system is simply that many people were not inclined to stop it. Instead some would throw stones against cars and windows to use them as juke boxes.

      • No, just sound that causes pain doesn’t sound good. It’s not about objects that cause the sound 😉

  2. Cool – I was going to say ‘Rainbow in Curved Air’ but I see Alex Ross already mentioned it. Actually though the more I think about it Terry Riley is pretty different in conception – almost the opposite, in the sense that ‘In C’ involves a large grouping of musicians and sounds different every time it’s played. I don’t find it abrasive at all, and ‘Curved Air’ is beautiful.

    With two weeks until I submit my thesis I am listening to a ton of Riley and related stuff. I always wondered what I’d want to listen to as I desperately wrote and edited in the last days… and minimalism is it.

  3. I wasn’t suggesting that Perich and Riley are twins, of course, simply illustrating that repetitiveness is not always “alarm sound”-like and therefore does not “sound good” – certainly “In C” here is nothing like 1-bit symphony, but I’d dare say it’s Riley’s most well-known piece and finding something more obscure and awesome on YouTube was a hassle.

    What Riley are you listening to, Mike? What’s your thesis about? Can you think of something that’s more akin to Perich?

  4. Hi Mikhail;, yeah sorry, wasn’t trying to argue with you, just following a train of thought.

    Mostly the early Riley – ‘Reed Streams’ which was released not that long ago for the first time on CD but has his very first released tape splicing stuff – with layered organ on one track and saxophones on the other. Plus a bonus jazz version of ‘In C’! My absolute fave is ‘A Rainbow in Curved Air’ and the Poppy Nogood stuff from the same time.

    But also I’ve been listening to a bunch of other minimalist and drone stuff – Charlemagne Palestine, Tony Conrad, La Monte Young et al. And later stuff like Eliane Radigue.

    Alan Licht has a pretty good set of lists of this stuff: http://rateyourmusic.com/list/funks/alan_lichts_minimal_top_ten_and_the_next_ten_and_minimalism_top_ten_iii___

    Although he has said himself the list is collector oriented and focuses on the obscure stuff rather than the best stuff by each musician, so better to check out the names rather than those particular releases. I like how as a genre it moves across the boundaries between classical avant garde and the rock/electronic milieu – it’s pulp minimalism rather than Glass et al.

    • Awesomeness all the way (mostly music-wise, I don’t know much about Australia). All worthy minimalist choices. Morton Feldman? I find that minimalism always loops me into so-called “early music” (pre-Renaissance), but lately it’s Kiya Tabassian (he did some early music) – check him out:

      • Yeah I think we’re on the same wavelength… I love Morton Feldman, actually I recently read his ‘Give My Regards to Eighth Street’… But for last stage thesis Feldman lacks that driving pulse!

        It’s so funny you mention early music because I had followed the same trajectory. I had never listened to much of this stuff before but was checking out the discography in Paul Griffiths’ ‘Concise History of Western Music’, and he makes the same point about the relationships between 20th C and pre-Renaissance music, and has interesting stuff about how since this stuff was only partially notated obviously the way it’s been reproduced in the last few decades has read the 20th century into it – but how that doesn’t make it any less interesting.

        I’ve been enjoying some Sequentia reconstructions of medieval folk/bard/troubadour music and liking it a lot – they only had words and vague ideas about contemporary melody but pressed on regardless and made some great stuff, and it’s a long way from my preconceptions – with drones and stuff. Also Paul Hillier – I had his recording of Stockhausen’s ‘Stimmung’, and just recently got ‘Perotin’, a performance of some strange 13th century polyphony – and it’s not that far apart in places. It’s not just Gregorian chant anymore.

        The Tabassian is cool, I’d never heard him before. If you like this stuff, you should check out Psarantonis – a Cretan lyre-player. I saw him here at All Tomorrow’s Parties last year. ‘Mountain Rebels’ is great.

      • Thanks, I’ll look into Psarantonis. Yes, there’s plenty of connection between contemporary and early music, I think Nono and Maderna (the great Venetian contemporaries) started out by reading theoretical works of Zarlino and the like.

  5. The meaning of “sounds good” can be simply understood by its negation: it doesn’t when it is painful, something which is not a semiotic category but a physical response a body seeks to avoid.

    If you insist on something like that, it’s all painful here except the Tabassian, and that’s only interesting IMO because it makes you focus on the pure sounds of the instruments itself. The Riley worthless to me, just nerd stuff. 1-Bit Symphony doesn’t even exist. The most ‘beautiful thing about ‘Curved Air’ is the title.

    This stuff is interesting to me because it has caught an audience, despite that fact that I cannot see that it expresses anything other than tedium (and the acceptance of and resignation to the ‘joy’ of tedium.)

    Not that such an evolution is unexpected, when I now am forced to see how widespread a disease (as I see it) it is. It could all be gathered together, as far as I’m concerned and done eternally as ‘Infinite Variations on Paltry Inertia’.

    The main thing is, why complain about a robotic future, when this music ushers it in so perfectly, maintains it, and even ‘celebrates it’, although I put that in quotes because it seems a contradiction in terms. I think nobody who ‘understands’ and enjoys this music (if I sound too rude, you can always say I just ‘don’t understand it’, well I certainly may or may not) should complain about even the most monotonous hours they spend as wage slaves, supernumeraries, flunkies, half-assed nobodies, personality-less drones waiting on some queen in god knows what beehive, et elia. This music will teach you to love and ‘have a good attitude’ about even the most distasteful situation you might find. I would imagine it reflects the emotional stoicism Martha Stewart ‘turned on in her mind’ during her several-months prison sentence. Afterwards, I think she said ‘oh well, that’s over with by now’, who needs it?

    • The main thing is, why complain about a robotic future, when this music ushers it in so perfectly, maintains it, and even ‘celebrates it’, although I put that in quotes because it seems a contradiction in terms.

      You are a correlationist 😉

      I don’t have the slightest idea why one of those “sound carpets with variations” causes pain while another one is joyful. Maybe it is all just about being used to certain sounds and I admit I’m open to some experiences but less to others. This doesn’t follow any observable rule but I clearly don’t have any interest in “mind expansion” experiences for their own sake. I’m too old for that.

      On a noise related note. I observed some kids are playing “Derrida wars” now spending attention to a dead philosopher who was definitely not minimalist but experimented a lot with noise and ambiguity and had a high annoyance factor. I believe the latter has only half way to do with the corrosion of meaning or that he attempted to show it is active in other texts of the philosophical tradition and his intentional avoidance of definitions and fixtures but that he made a morality out of the antithesis of mathematization, the climax of a culture of radical criticism. So it is not so much about what was eccentric about deconstruction but rather that it fitted just too well into the intellectual 1970s mainstream. From my point of view the current “speculative” movement is about abandoning this heritage while attempting to not fall back into positivism or language analysis. I do think it is misguided and transitional both in its nihilist, rage enlightenment and math ontology as well as its OOO flavours but right now it doesn’t have to fear a lot of competition either. Conversion experiences like those of Morton which were noted here recently are just witnesses of swarm formations i.e. the emergence of a new mainstream and I wonder this one is really worse than that before.

  6. I am always interested in what QoB has to say, especially regarding things musical, and I have to admit I can’t find it within myself to heartily disagree with much of what he says here, but at the same time, I’ve consistently loved this stuff in small doses. Steve Reich is quite explicit about the influence of Pérotin on his music and I’ve connected early music with minimalism ever since. A while back, I put together a Top 5 of American Minimalism for a no longer extant blog in which I tried to feature amateur performances – with a few obvious ringers. The occasional missteps are interesting because they suggest how hard this music can be to play and they break up the hypnotic/trance quality of the music in interesting ways. With Mikhail’s indulgence, I’ll post the links here:

    La Monte Young, “Composition 1960 No. 7”

    Terry Riley, “In C”

    Steve Reich, “Piano Phase”

    John Adams, “China Gates”

    Philip Glass, “Opening (from Glassworks)”

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