PETER BEYLS ~ THE HOLLOW MAN (1980)

LP (180 Gram)
Original Artwork by Peter Beyls
Numbered & signed edition of 25 ex.
d’or060

This is the first publication dedicated fully to the work of Belgian early electronic composer Peter Beyls (1950).
Previously, his music was published as part of compilations of the IPEM institute (Institute for Psycho-acoustic and Electronic Music), released by Metaphon and Creel Pone.

This work is among the very first computer generated pieces, composed, performed and recorded in 1980 at Vorst Nationaal, Nacht van de Poëzie (Night of the Poetry) in Brussels, Belgium.

Peter Beyls works on the intersection of computer science and the arts. He develops generative systems in music, the visual arts and hybrid formats. Beyls studied music and computer science at EMS, Stockholm, the Royal Music Conservatory, Brussels and the Slade School of Art, UC London. He was a researcher at ICCMR and was awarded a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Plymouth UK, for his research on evolutionary computing applied to real-time interactive music systems. He published extensively on various aspects of digital media, in particular, real-time interactive music systems, generative art and, in general, the application of Artificial Intelligence for artistic purposes.

Beyls pioneered the use of cellular automata in the field of computer music while at the VUB AI-Lab. His work was widely exhibited and performed at conferences like Siggraph, ICMC, Imagina, ISCM, Generative Arts and ISEA. He was invited professor at a.o. the University of Quebec, Montreal, California Institute of the Arts, Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, the School of Visual Arts, New York and the Osaka Arts University, Japan. Until September 2016, he was a research professor at CITAR, Catholic University of Portugal, Porto. He is currently a visiting researcher at the Department of Media Art, University College Ghent, specifically developing a project at KASK Laboratory aiming to interface aesthetic and biological processes. Beyls is also a is a visiting professor at Artec, University Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint Denis, Paris, France.

Peter Beyls has been involved with ISEA (the International Symposium on Electronic Art) since the early 1990’s, he is currently a member of the IIAC (ISEA International Advisory Committee). In addition, he is an associate with Ear to the Earth, New York, Intermedia Projects, Albuquerque, NM and the Algorists collective.

Beyls was initially active in electronic music, as a composer of tape music. Later on, he developed various analog live electronic music systems. In close partnership with Michel Waisvisz, he designed and built the early prototypes of the crackle box synthesizer at STEIM, Amsterdam (1973-1975). While teaching at the Vrije Academie/Psychopolis, The Hague, Beyls develops various collaborative projects with Dutch experimental filmmaker Hero Wouters. Around the same time, Karel Goeyvaerts and Lucien Goethals were his mentors at the IPEM Studio, Ghent. In the mid 1990s Beyls performs extensively in a trio with John Van Rymenent and Geoff Leigh. Over the years, Beyls’ engagement with music systems evolved from home-made electronics to time-sharing computers to laptop performance.

Beyls conceives of computer media as active partners in a creative process, a methodology he refers to as “conceptual navigation”. Software is written in order to explore ambiguous intentions. Once an idea is formalized in a program, one can evaluate its imaginative potential by way of the feedback that program provides. Since a program reflects the objectives of the artist, programming is considered a method of aesthetic introspection. Software is thus instrumental as a functional, materialist means allowing the active manipulation of otherwise purely conceptual constructs.

Over the years, Beyls’ work has primarily centered on generative systems, including extensive series of machine drawings, human-machine interactive music systems using machine-learning and interactive audiovisual installations, many of them using computer-vision. A clear line of thought underpins the evolution of his artistic thinking: from methodologies borrowed from conventional AI (knowledge-based systems) to Artificial Life oriented systems exploring the notion of emergent functionality. An experimental, exploratory attitude is core to his work.

Beyls is equally fascinated by the problem of translating digital/virtual artifacts back into the tangible analog world as to make them available for humans to be experienced. This raises questions of how digital art is connected to the sensual parameters of human physicality and how it can be referenced/understood from the whole of human culture and the massive depth of its history. A monograph documenting his oeuvre was published by MER Paperkunsthalle in 2014. The event coincided with a major survey exhibition at IMAL, Center for Digital Culture, Brussels. A more recent collection of texts entitled Coming Full Circle, (2019) was published by the Verbeke Foundation Belgium following a solo show at the Verbeke Museum. Beyls’ work is represented by Gallery DAM, Berlin, Germany.


Website Peter Beyls

Peter Beyls at the performance of The Hollow Man at ‘festival voor elektronische muziek’, Plan K Brussel in 1980)

a side
– The Hollow Man Part I. (20:12 minutes)
b side
– The Hollow Man Part II. (20:12 minutes)

Live concert with computer, 1980.

All Music by Peter Beyls


Vorst Nationaal, Nacht van de Poëzie (Night of the Poetry) organized by Guido Lauwaert – openingperformance – 16 februari 1980
Mastering, vinylcut Astres d’Or

“(The Hollow Man) … was fully programmed – with 2 realtime inputs in parallel: (1) triggering certain functions via the computer keyboard and (2) manual manipulation of the VCF filters in the Oberheim 4 voice. The program generates evolving patterns – gradual transformations with algorithmic principles that I also used to make drawings. “

“In performance, it involves human-machine collaboration with shared initiative and an equivalent level of artistic autonomy. I also call it symbolic interaction – the difference between responsive systems and interactivity – documented in a recent paper – attached here for your information.” (PB)

“PET Commodore linked to the Oberheim – behind me Rudi Blondia, the designer of the interface” (PB)(festival voor elektronische muziek, Plan K Brussel in 1980)
Peter Beyls ~ The Hollow Man (excerpt Side A)
Peter Beyls ~ The Hollow Man (excerpt Side B)

Artwork Description:
A series of 5 unique pen plotter drawings on chromogenetic prints, each in an edition of 5.
298-298 cm.

Peter Beyls is part of a group called the “Algorists”, originally created by Jean-Pierre Hébert (who coined the word) and Roman Verostko. They stated that artists who create an object of art with a process that includes their own algorithms are identified as algorists. There are no more than 10 artists worldwide who pursued a career in this medium in combination with plotter drawings over the past 50 years. Beyls is amongst them. Pen plotters became less important after the year 2000, when newer printing methods gained momentum and were more effective. However, in recent years some younger artists started using affordable pen plotters again. After all, a drawn line, even if it is based on an algorithm, may have a different appeal than the slick appearance of an inkjet print.

Peter Beyls considers the act of drawing a “thinking machine”. Intrigued by the possibilities of computer-programming he created his first drawings in 1974 at Ghent University. He continued his research in algorithmic drawing in 1977 at the Slade School of Art in London and has never stopped since. Aesthetically he was interested in a wide range of concepts from basic geometric forms to organic structures which were usually executed in small series with variations.
This is his most recent series of drawings, from this year, 2022.

SBL Series 1, edition of 5
SBL Series 2, edition of 5
SBL Series 3, edition of 5
SBL Series 4, edition of 5
SBL Series 5, edition of 5

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120 euro

RAYASTRE ~ SHAMBHAVI MUDRA MALDOROR

LP (180 Gram)
Original Artwork by Rayastre
Numbered edition of 25 ex.
Signed by the Artist
d’or059

Rayastre is an artist from Indonesian / Dutch / Belgian / Portuguese / English descent, active since 1987 in music, sculpture, painting, photography, collage and drawing.

His solo-work involves mainly the use of acoustic instruments and non instruments like iron and glass objects, apart from a few electronic excursions. Since a few years his work increasingly includes the use of his voice. Music and other creative work are used by the artist as direct explorations of the mind. This has lead to a rather personal form of music. During the decades the music of Rayastre has changed organically along with the artist.

His solo music work can roughly be divided in the following time periods;
1987-1992 Experimental self research.
1992-2000 Electronic music.
2002-2010 Le Souffleur period / expressionistic acoustic music.
2011-2020 Exploratory projects.
2021-current Voicework / meditative work.

His discography withholds over 130 solo titles and a list of collaborative group projects, mostly published on vinyl.

Founding member of Asra, La Poupée Vivante (with Timo van Luijk), Wendingen 1918 (with Bart de Paepe), he has further collaborated with Frédérique Bruyas, Jon Mueller among others. Rayastre is an autodidact who believes strongly art should be derived from worldly experiences and can’t be learned at school. The basis of the art lies in non knowledge, from which roads are chosen and lessons learned. Teachings came from life, alienation, dreams… Rayastre’s discography shows a high degree of DIY in the sense that he has “taught myself music along the way while opening doors within myself”, meaning that the music follows the inner excursions of the artist. He’s a full autodidact without any music education or artistic education.

Since 2017 he publishes his work via Astres d’Or.

As a visual artist, Rayastre works in the field of painting, drawing, photography, collage, sculpture and objects. He has chosen not to exhibit his visual work to the public, apart from when published together with his music. In the future this may change.

“A love for experiences which connect me to the stranger realms are at the basis of my work”

“I’m more and more interested in my ancestral background, especially my Indonesian heritage. All my spiritual connections are deeply rooted there, which is reflected on an increasing level in my work and personal life.”

rayastre.org

“All my work is closely related / connected to my journey into myself… It’s highly autobiographical in that sense, albeit in an abstract form. The music is a direct 1:1 result of the journey, not a depiction / reflection of the journey… The truth shines through a real experience, when the truth is touched. Although the materialisation of this psychic pathway, the music, is abstract, something of the initial experience will shine through…

The music for Shambhavi Mudra Maldoror is a direct result of my daily meditational practices. It is the meditation which was the centre. Not the music…
It carries at the same time all my experience as a human being and in particular a few life altering events. When one has touched the essence of being and has experienced how it is when there’s no self or even awareness… When one has experienced, yet has no memory of it because there was no Self… When one comes back slowly into the Self and finds oneself being just a tiny molecule in a wild cosmic stream of energy… The full immersion in the Para Brahma evaporates all boundaries between the Self and the Universe through it’s pure essence of bliss…” (Rayastre)

RAYASTRE ~ SHAMBHAVI MUDRA MALDOROR

Para Brahma I (20:25)
Para Brahma II (20:56)

All music Rayastre


Dedicated to Floris Sirag (* 5-4-1956 – † 25-9-2020) & Nynke Wesselius (* 9-9-1961 – † 18-10-2020)

OM RHAM HIRANYAGARBHAYA NAMAHA (Salute to the golden cosmic egg…)

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Listen here to Rayastre ~ Shambhavi Mudra Maldoror, Para Brahma I (excerpt)


Listen here to Shambhavi Mudra Maldoror, Para Brahma II (excerpt)

____________________________________________________________

Artwork description:
Hardcover box with prints, LP and a nature’s memory…

  • Red velvet box (size 33-33 cm)
    -Front of box: print of photocollage “Vajrabhairava (path to samadhi) I”, golden ribbon with bell, red cotton flowers, golden tassel (size 30-30 cm)
    – Inside of front box: print of collage “Vajrabhairava (path to samadhi) II” (size 30-30 cm)
    – Inside of backside box: print of collage “Para Brahma III” (size 20-20 cm)
  • Content of box:
    – print of collage “Para Brahma I” (size 30-30 cm)(300 grams paper)
    – print of photocollage “Para Brahma II” (size 30-30 cm)(300 grams paper)
    – a nature’s memory (dried leaves and flowers as found and preserved by the artist)
    – LP handcut by the artist. Hand etchings on vinyl.

All artwork by Rayastre

2/25 front “Vajrabhairava (path to samadhi) I”
2/25 front “Vajrabhairava (path to samadhi) I”
2/25 front “Vajrabhairava (path to samadhi) I”
2/25 front “Vajrabhairava (path to samadhi) I”
2/25 front “Vajrabhairava (path to samadhi) I”
2/25 inside front (“Vajrabhairava (path to samadhi) II”) and backside first page
2/25 inside front (“Vajrabhairava (path to samadhi) II”) and backside first page
2/25 first page (“Para Brahma I”) and a nature’s memory
2/25 first page (“Para Brahma I”) and a nature’s memory
2/25 a nature’s memory and second page (“Para Brahma II”)
2/25 second page (“Para Brahma II”) and inside backside (“Para Brahma III”)
2/25 inside backside (“Para Brahma III”)
2/25 second page (“Para Brahma II”)
2/25 backside second page. Handwritten text, signature, place, date
2/25 a nature’s memory
2/25 first page (“Para Brahma I”)
2/25 inside front (“Vajrabhairava (path to samadhi) II”)
2/25 backside
Vajrabhairava (path to samadhi) I
Vajrabhairava (path to samadhi) II
Para Brahma I
Para Brahma II
Para Brahma III
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KLAUS RÖDER ~ PRÉLUDE POUR LA FRATERNITÉ / PRÄLUDIUM FÜR DIE BRÜDERLICHKEIT (1989), ELECTRONIC VOCAL (1978), ÜBERRAUSCHUNGEN (1972)

LP (180 Gram)
Original Artwork by Klaus Röder
Numbered & signed edition of 25 ex.
d’or058

Klaus Röder Born on 7 April 1948 in Stuttgart, married, 3 children. Violin lessons at the age of 10, later piano and guitar, from 1968 studies in ‘Bild und Ton’ engineering at the Hochschule Düsseldorf and composition with Milko Kelemen and Günther Becker, guitar with Dieter Kreidler at the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule Düsseldorf. During his studies he was a member of various bands (free jazz, rock, pop). 1972 to 2020 teacher for guitar at the music school in Langenfeld. Graduated with a diploma in electronic music compo

1970 Participation at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music (scholarship).
1984 first experiments with computer music at the Institute for Communication Research and Phonetics at the University of Bonn with programmes for sound synthesis and sound analysis for the Kontron computer PSI 80.
Participation in courses on computer music: 1985 at the Groupe de musique expérimental de Bourges and 1988 at the Technical University of Berlin.
2002 Participation at the Stockhausen Courses in Kürten.0.

In addition to compositions for acoustic instruments (including ‘experimental’ instruments), he has written a large number of works of electroacoustic music (contemporary classical music), including 80 works for audio carriers (tape music).

1980 Award for Composition in Düsseldorf and Invitation to the ISCM World Music Days in Tel Aviv. In the same year he received a first prize for his composition ‘ Mr. Frankenstein’s’ Babies’ at the Concours international de musique électroacoustique de Bourges. Some years later he received in Bourges the ‘Euphones d’or’.
1988 1st prize at the Computer Music Courses Berlin for the composition ‘Kontra C’.

Klaus Röder was member of Kraftwerk in 1974 during the Autobahn LP.

Klaus Röder Website

Electronic Vocal
The electronic sound continuously merges into the sound of the voice, and the sound of the voice continuously merges into the electronic sound. The electronic sound tries to sound like the voice and the voice tries to sound like the electronic sound. There are the following sound sources: My own voice recorded through the Sennheiser MD 421N microphone, a converted electric piano for percussive and also for sustained sounds, a converted graphic equalizer from RIM, where the filter quality of each individual channel could be adjusted, a Synthi A from EMS. The Synthi A, several tape recorders and a simple mixer were used for sound manipulation. In this piece, the sound melodies dominate. They were created by the juxtaposition of differently filtered sound sections with different lengths by tape montage. The result is a ’stepped’ filtering. In addition to the graphic equalizer mentioned above, the low-pass filter of the Synthi A was also used for filtering. It was mainly used for continuous filtering (as opposed to stepped filtering). Slowly sung vowels (a, e, i, o, u, ̈a, o ̈, u ̈, …) can be heard from the voice. From synthi A one hears amplitude-modulated noise, mixtures of different generators (e.g. triangle wave mixed with noise) and mixtures of microphone recordings of the voice with generators (e.g. voice mixed with noise or voice and sine tone via ring modulator), from the electric piano one hears clusters, fast tone sequences and long-drawn-out single tones. All tones from the electric piano are filtered in different ways. The following techniques were also used: Glissando sounds were created using tempo changes on the reproducing tape machines. Percussive sounds were made with the voltage controlled amplifier (VCA in Synthi A). Orchestral effects, a whole choir and also echo effects were created by simultaneous or time-shifted playback of sounding material with several tape machines. Apart from the explained sound melodies, there are also pitch melodies. Both types of melodies are short and highly recognisable, and they repeat themselves several times. As a climax, there is a third type of melody: a rapid succession of tones, sounds and noises that continuously merge into a synthesiser voice and sound like a human scream at the end.
(KR, September 2021)

Side A
Prélude pour la fraternité – Präludium für die Brüderlichkeit (1989) 18:30

Side B
Electronic Vocal (1978) 14:53
Überrauschungen (1972) 4:54

Prélude pour la fraternité – Präludium für die Brüderlichkeit is a piece from 1989, made with a computerprogram designed by Klaus Röder, named ‘PLAYTX’. The program worked in conjunction with a Yamaha TX802. The piece was commissioned by Gmeb.
Electronic Vocal, is a piece from 1978 for manipulated voice and electronics.
Überrauschungen is the first electronic piece by Klaus Röder, made with the CBS Buchla Synthesizer, Robert-Schumann Institute, Düsseldorf in 1972.

All music Klaus Röder.
Mastering, production, vinylcut Astres d’Or

Electronic Vocal (excerpt 1)
Electronic Vocal (excerpt 2)

Artwork description: Drawings by Klaus Röder
Music Score for unpublished piece Glasglockentanz (1983) (start score: from 25/25 – to End score 1/25)
Pencil, Marker, Colormarker and Stickers on Graphpaper.

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120 euro

CHRISTIAN WOLFF ~ A COMPLETE ANTHOLOGY OF SOLO AND DUO VIOLIN PIECES

2LP (180 Gram)
Original Artwork by Christian Wolff
Numbered edition of 25 ex.
Signed by the Artist
d’or057

  • Short Suite (2:13) (1950) (Never before published or recorded)
  • Four Small Duos (2:01) (1950) (Never before published or recorded)
  • Six Melodies Variation (3:30) (1993)
  • Duo for violins (6:06) (1950)
  • Small Duos for Violinists (15:05) (2021) (World Premiere, composed and recorded for Astres d’Or)
  • Bread and Roses (8:32) (1976)
  • Violin Duo For Petr (6:12) (2011)
  • The Death of Mother Jones (13:54) (1977)

All music composed by Christian Wolff.
Performers: Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim Harris

Christian Wolff Born on March 8, 1934, in Nice, France; son of book publishers. Education: Bachelor’s degree, 1955, master’s degree, 1957, Ph.D., 1963, all from Harvard University; studied piano with Grete Sultan and composition with John Cage.

French-born American composer Christian Wolff helped establish a movement in contemporary classical music collectively known as the New York School. Comprised of composers John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, and pianist David Tudor in addition to Wolff, the group lived on the edge of the classical world. And like many pioneering artists throughout history, the New York School composers were often scorned by their peers and critics, only receiving appreciation for their work decades later. Wolff’s explorations into indeterminacy in the late-1950s and early-1960s, for example, served as an apparent inspiration for John Zorn and other avant-garde musicians in the years that followed. He also gained prominence in the later 1990s through an expanding discography, as well as major commissions, most notably John, David, Wolff’s first large-scale orchestral piece.

Wolff studied briefly with Cage during a six-week period and derived inspiration from his New York peers at the onset of his composing career, but he quickly uncovered his own identity and considers himself largely a self-taught composer. He created intricate systems for his compositions; rather than employing standard notation, Wolff instead provided musicians with symbols, guiding them through each piece and allowing players to interpret for themselves. In fact, personal interpretation and the freedom of flexibility, for the listener as well as the performer, has always remained of particular interest to Wolff. He refuses to undermine the performer’s creativity by loading his pieces with too many directions–such as changes in tempo, dynamics, or articulations–and avoids emotional manipulation or rhetoric.

In a career spanning 50 years and counting (Now already 70 years (editorial note)), Wolff, while holding to his original ideas about composing, has undergone many transformations. Beginning with minimalism, he moved on to explore indeterminacy, open form, and works connected to popular music and political issues. His compositions–performed throughout the world, especially in Europe and the United States–include works for piano and keyboards, instrumental solos, chamber and other unspecified groups, choruses, and orchestras that appeal to a varied audience. Merce Cunningham and his dance company as well as dancer Lucinda Childs implemented several of Wolff’s pieces, while the influential post-punk band Sonic Youth tapped Wolff to perform two of his compositions on their 1999 album Goodbye 20th Century. Earlier that same year, Wolff appeared at San Francisco’s Other Minds Festival alongside luminaries from both inside and outside the New York scene. Such participants included Gordon Mumma, Bob Ostertag, and percussionist William Winant.

Although Wolff witnessed a renewed critical and public interest in his musical work later in life, he spent much of his energy on academic pursuits. Almost as soon as he established himself as a member of the New York movement, he left the city in 1951 after graduating from high school in order to study classics and comparative literature at Harvard University; he earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees from the school. He then taught classics at Harvard for a number of years and, since 1971, taught classics, comparative literature, and music at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Thoughts on Teaching
As an instructor teaching a new generation about music and composition, Wolff allows his students the freedom to express themselves in any way they see fit. He recalls that in his own experiences as a student, Cage had done the same for him. “What he did for me was to make a space–‘you don’t have to write like X or like Y, you don’t have to derive your work from this tradition or that tradition, just do what you think you have to do,'” Wolff said to Jason Gross in an interview for Perfect Sound Forever. “He did that at a time when most people thought I was crazy and that I wasn’t doing music. So I try to instill that kind of attitude in my students. I basically try to get the students to find what they need to do.”

Wolff was born on March 8, 1934, in Nice, France. His father, Kurt Wolff, was a well-known publisher in Germany whose authors included Franz Kafka. With the rise of the Nazis, however, he moved the family to New York City in 1941. Wolff has lived mainly in the United States since and became an American citizen in 1946. Continuing to work in the publishing business, Wolff’s parents, in the 1950s, ran Pantheon Books and also operated an outfit called the Bollingen series dedicated to producing the works of Jungian writers, and Wolff grew up in an artistic environment centered around the Washington Square area of New York. Some of the Wolffs’s neighbors and friends included writer and editor Joseph Campbell, dancer and choreographer Jean Erdman, and poet e.e. cummings.

Wolff’s parents also enjoyed connections with musicians–most of whom were the traditional type. Thus, when Wolff took up the piano as a child, he concentrated on classical music. However, Wolff’s interests began to broaden when he reached adolescence. Aside from music, he discovered a talent for drawing and poetry writing. “I got very interested in contemporary poetry and the whole notion of modernism, in a very simple, unreflective way–realizing that there was a way to do things other than the way the traditionalist does them,” recalled the composer in an interview with David Patterson for Perspectives of New Music.

Subsequently, Wolff, around the age of 14 or 15, decided to try composing music. At first, he tried to imitate traditional composers like Bach, but gave up, realizing such a feat both impossible and unnecessary. So, after a period of rest, Wolff attempted composition again. This time, he concluded to try something new. He drew inspiration from studying back issues provided by a friend of the publication New Music, which introduced him to the work of John Cage, William Russell, and others. Like them, Wolff desired to develop music that truly reflected its own identity. “I had this programmatic notion of making it ‘different,'” he explained to Patterson. “Whatever I was going to do, it wasn’t going to be like anything that anybody else was doing as far as I could make out.”

As time passed, Wolff grew more interested in composing than practicing piano and regularly brought self-written pieces to his lessons with Grete Sultan, a traditional pianist who later became a noted performer of Cage’s music. Though she probably knew little about Cage’s music at the time, Sultan thought Cage might be interested in Wolff’s work and arranged for the two to meet. And after becoming acquainted, Cage, who Wolff calls his first and only teacher in composition, agreed to take the 16-year-old on as a student–free of charge–at a time when he accepted few. Because Wolff knew little about the technical aspects of composing, he felt open to a myriad of possibilities when he initiated his studies with the composer in the spring of 1950. As a result of Cage’s influence, Wolff’s first compositions from the early 1950s, including Serenade for flute, clarinet, and violin and For Piano I, piano, were thoroughly written out and implemented few pitches and periods of silence.

Indeterminacy
Then, during the mid- to late-1950s, Wolff developed an interest in the role of chance in music, an occurrence he prefers to call “indeterminacy.” Cage, too, became intrigued with the music of chance around the same time, but Wolff’s use of it was distinctly individual. “From a practical point of view, Cage was initially interested in using chance as a compositional device,” explained Wolff to the Wire’s Andy Hamilton. “Once he had used it, he had made a composition which was then performed the way it was written; it was fixed. I have very occasionally used chance in this way. But what I became interested in introducing wasn’t even chance so much any more, but the element of what we called indeterminacy–not at the point of composition but at the point of performance. So my scores might be made without using any chance procedures at all, but they were made in such a way that when performers used them, unpredictable events would take place.” In other words, Wolff describes the results of his approach, as opposed to Cages, as “working actively with contingencies.”

Minimalism and the Avant-Garde
During the 1960s and early 1970s, aspects of minimalism again affected Wolff’s work. Important sets from this period include the Tilbury pieces composed in 1969-70, dedicated to British pianist John Tilbury, and Exercises 1-14 from 1973-74. In the 1970s, Wolff also began writing more politically and idealistically engaged music. Examples of his political works include Changing the System and Accompaniments, the latter written in 1972 for piano and voice with a text relating to the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Although he soon abandoned composing within an explicit political context, Wolff continued to draw material from political folk and popular music for a number of years. String Quartet Exercises Out of Songs (1974-76), as well as Exercise 21 (1981), illustrate the composer’s connection to less politicized issues. Another example of Wolff’s move away from music with a direct social message includes For Morty. Completed in 1987, it was composed for vibraphone, glockenspiel, and piano in memory of close friend and colleague Morton Feldman, who died in September of 1987. The personal tribute further utilized instruments–and the sense of fragility–particular to Feldman’s work. Wolff also wrote a piece for mentor John Cage’s seventy-sixth birthday, entitled Digger Song, in 1988.

Wolff also made forays outside the world of strict composition. In 1967-68 while staying in London, Wolff joined the avant-garde group AMM–featuring Cornelius Cardew on cello–on electric bass and other miscellaneous instruments. At the time, he had no prior experience with jazz or free improvisation. “That was my first experience of it,” Wolff told Hamilton. “It was sort of quietly exhilarating, learning and experiencing making music without the mediation of scores, explanations, rehearsals, etc. Especially with musicians who’ve centrally always done that–Keith Rowe, Eddie Prevost, Lou Gare. You’re simultaneously entirely on your own and entirely part of a collective activity.” Inspired by his participation in AMM, Wolff composed Edges and Burdocks (1970-71); both pieces contained improvisational components and are featured on Sonic Youth’s Goodbye 20th Century.
(Biography by Laura Hightower)

Awards Loeb bequest grantee, Harvard University, 1967-68; fellow, Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, D.C., 1970-71; Music Award from the American Academy and National Institute for Arts and Letters, 1974; Asian Cultural Council Grant, 1987; John Cage Award for Music, 1996.

Books about CW Changing the System: the music of Christian Wolff, edited by Steven Chase and Philip Thomas (Ashgate, 2010); Christian Wolff, Michael Hicks and Christian Asplund (University of Illinois Press, 2012).
Books by CW Cues: Writings & Conversations (MusikTexte, 1998); Occasional Pieces (Oxford University Press, 2017).

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Conrad Harris has performed new works for violin at Ostrava Days, Darmstadt Ferrienkürse für Neue Musik, Gulbenkian Encounters of New Music, Radio France, Warsaw Autumn, and New York’s Sonic Boom Festival. In addition to being a member of the Flux Quartet and violin duo String Noise, he is concertmaster/soloist with the S.E.M. Orchestra, Ostravska Banda, STX Ensemble, and the Ostravska Banda, Wordless Music Orchestra, and Ensemble LPR. He has performed and recorded with such artists as Elliott Sharp, Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, David Behrman, “Blue” Gene Tyranny, Jean-Claude Risset, Johan Da Saram, and Tiny Tim. His recording of the Lejaren Hiller Violin Sonatas with pianist Joseph Kubera was recently released on New World Records. He has also recorded for Asphodel, Vandenburg, CRI, and Vinyl Retentive Records.
www.conradharris.com
www.fluxquartet.com
www.stringnoiseduo.com

Pauline Kim Harris aka PK or Pauline Kim is a GRAMMY™-nominated violinist and composer. The youngest student to have ever been accepted into the studio of legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz, she has appeared throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia as soloist, collaborator and music director. Known for her work with classical avant-punk violin duo, String Noise, she has toured extensively with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and continues to collaborate with leading new music ensembles in New York City. Pauline Kim was the first Music Director for the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company and has been the featured artist for choreographers David Parker and Pam Tanowitz. Pauline’s debut album, Heroine — a reimagining of the Bach Chaconne and Ockeghem’s Deo Gratias was released on Sono Luminus with worldwide distribution in September of 2019.
www.paulinekimharris.com/
www.stringnoiseduo.com

Duo for 2 violins (1950) is the first composition made after I started my few composition lessons with John Cage. He had me learn his structural procedure of systematized and fixed arithmetical proportions (“rhythmic structure”) and make single line melodies using no more than 5 or so pitches. That notion of using quite limited material to focus with clear attention probably led to my idea of making pieces with very small numbers of pitches (3 or 4), absolute pitches, no octave transpositions. I thought that, for careful listening, the actual resulting music was quite various. Because of my interest at the time in dissonance, in this piece the three pitches are adjacent D, Eb, E natural (with no octave transpositions).

Short Suite and Four Small Duos (both 1950) were made shortly after in the same way, but somehow were forgotten till quite recently when I was putting together my archive. This is their first recording (and performance).

Six Melodies Variation (1993) was made at the request of the violinist Roger Zahab for a collective tribute, by a number of composers, after John Cage’s 70th birthday. It uses material from Cage’s 1949 violin and piano piece Six Melodies, and from the 18th century United States composer William Billings whose work Cage was using at the time in his “cheap imitation” pieces.

Violin Duo for Petr (2011) was made for Petr Kotik’s 70th birthday and for String Noise. The composition, in the way I now work, is “free”, that is, I just start and he see where things go, not concerned with structural shapes or continuities except as they arise, so as if improvising, though I use various micro systems for pitch and some rhythmic procedures, and sometimes reconfigure notation, for instance specifying for the players, not pitches but which strings of the violin they play and whether the string is open or fingered (freely) or made to sound a (free) harmonic.

Small Duos for Violinists (2021) were made for Pauline Kim and Conrad Harris (String Noise), in part for this recording, so there might be something new. There are 16 small pieces, each made as described for Violin Duo for Petr, but now with a focus on a series with small structural units, each making somewhat different moves as they follow one another, and sometimes also having internal differences. Rhythms are sometimes free with free coordination, each player proceeding independently and “by ear”. There’s counterpoint. One duo is an hommage to Rameau’s sometimes crazy musical energy. Another refers to a Satie piece. In the last duo the duration of sounds is determined by how long they take to reach silence (natural resonance takes the place of measured counting).

The two solo violin pieces. Bread and Roses and The Death of Mother Jones were written in 1976 and 1977, the first for Malcom Goldstein, the second as a kind of follow-up, hoping for a performer willing to deal with the deliberately difficult technical demands of playing (there have been three performers I know of, all of them women). Both pieces are free variations on the songs that provide the titles.  Arrangements of them begin the music. Bread and Roses was a song made in the early 20th century on the occasion of a famous strike of women mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA., which was successful. Mother Jones was one of the best known labor activists of the early 20th century in the U.S. The song emerged anonymously shortly after her death at age 100. These two pieces are among a group variously based on traditional political music that I made around this time, wanting to bring an explicit political element into my music.

(Christian Wolff)

Short Suite (excerpt)
Four small Duo’s (excerpt)
Small Duos for Violinists (excerpt)
Small Duos for Violinists (excerpt 2)

Artwork description:
Artwork by Christian Wolff (Dates 2006, 2007)
Pencil on Paper

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