IT'S NOT THAT SIMPLE by Brian Reinbolt
FOUR IDEAS Seven - The number of God. A prime number. Black Noise - The technical opposite of White Noise is silence. The Thirteenth Player - The session went into the night. A frenzied attempt to ignore the absence of the thirteenth player. Canon - There were reasons for the classic forms. These four pieces were all the result of the composer's interest in developing simple computer algorithms for producing musical compositions.
Seven has seven rhythmic elements, each with seven beats, that are slowly brought in and out of the main mix by the computer. The underlying modal harmonies are changed at the prompting of the composer. Obbligato voices play melodies based on the underlying harmonies.
Black Noise is produced with an algorithm that creates harmonic "voice leading." A note range of eight octaves is divided into eight unequal sections. Within each section a note is chosen at random and then is changed at random times using intervals of either a half or whole step up or down. Three obbligato voices play notes within the current computed harmony.
The Thirteenth Player is a "jazz" algorithm that has a random walking bass and rhythm based on dividing the beat by 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 11. An electric piano sound produces random harmonies similar to the system used in Black Noise. The "trumpet improvisations" are created using fast scales of randomly chosen small intervals.
Canon is a three-subject, sixteen-voice circular canon. The first subject is a nine-voice canon, with each voice entering at an irregular interval in relation to the preceding voice. The second subject has four voices which follow at the time interval of a quarter or half note. This gives this subject an echo effect. The third subject is a three voice canon at the unison. The piece ends with a brief coda.
THREE SONGS FOR ELECTRONIC VOICE A Man or a Baby -A Christmas carol about the man child talking to infantile men. Descartes - Brian's computer tries to discern the epistemological center. Brain Monkey - Brian's computer complains about being misunderstood. These three songs for electronic voice use the twelve dollar GI256 phoneme voice synthesizer as the lead singer in a computer band. This cheap imitation of the human voice, with its nearly incomprehensible pronunciation, expresses eloquently the twentieth century technical approach to artificial intelligence.
A Baby or a Man was originally composed for a KPFA Christmas radio broadcast hosted by Barbara Golden. It is an electronic music transcription of a piano piece, consisting of an ostinato pattern in which every note is played by a different Casio voice. Against the ostinato, melodic fragments are repeated, each repetition separated by a pause unequal to any other.
Descartes is so named because of the use of the philosopher's famous phrase in the lyrics. A computer can easily speak about thinking, being, and dreaming. . . "Descartes" is also a collection of asymmetrically spaced melodic fragments.
Brain Monkey is a traditional rock and roll song, complete with lyrics, hook and refrain.
URBAN LAKE MUSIC After a particularly brain-numbing week, the electronic music composer wanders unambitiously to the urban lake near his home. Laying down on the dry grass, surrounded by a detailed fall clearness, he half listens to the inside-outside world. His mind, following the pattern of the world around him, disconnects into a filtered sonic dream.
Urban Lake Music was written in an attempt to use the compositional format that is heard in nature, i.e., a collection of musical events, each with its own musical timing and purpose, combined in a continuous sound collage. A drone, which is a chord in which each note differs from its vertically adjacent note by one beat, was constructed to signify the noise created by the brain. It ends up sounding like a new age parody. Such is life.
MORONSCAPES The Computer is the literal moron, much like the one who plagues you in coffee shops and night clubs. Moronscapes is a sound installation that produces a continuously changing sound environment. A ROM-based music generation program, written on the Commodore 64 is plugged into a Roland D-550 synthesizer, which has been loaded with the moronscape voices.
SIMPLEDANCE Simple - Dance on the plain of a dream. Ivo - Saint Ivo is the patron Saint of Lawyers. Cones - Made of ever-increasing (decreasing) circles. Simple Dance is a set of three dance pieces that are played together without pause.
Simple uses the Yahama TX81Z to produce quartertone melodies against an a algorithmic harmony generator. The title was a reminder to keep all elements as simple as possible.
Ivo consists of a series of phrases that are played at random by many different voices. Each voice lends a different quality to the phrases.
Cones consists of three phrases played in different modes constructed at run time by the computer using intervals of one, two, or three half steps. Musical contrasts are created by using different intervals between the phrases, different voices, and different juxtapositions of the phrases.
Brian Reinbolt is currently spending his time composing and working in the San Francisco Bay Area as a computer geek. In what seems a past life, he studied Piano Performance, Physics and Math at Florida State University and Electronic Music at the Center for Contemporary Music in Oakland. He has given performances around the country, including San Francisco, New York, Montreal and Washington D.C.
IT'S NOT THAT SIMPLE A R T 1 0 0 5 C P 1990 by Brian Reinbolt (BMI). All rights reserved. ARTIFACT RECORDINGS, 1374 Francisco Street, Berkeley, California 94702 U.S.A. Design by Michael Sumner. 01 Seven (4'46") 02 Descartes (4'50") 03 Canon (5'08") 04 Moronscape 24 (4'35") 05 A Man or a Baby (3'51") 06 Black Noise (8'30") 07 The Thirteenth Player (5'11") 08 Urban Lake Music (4'53") 09 Moronscape 5 (3'29") 10 Simple (6'40") 11 Ivo (5'20") 12 Cones (5'47") 13 Brain Monkey (4'23") Total Time: (69'28")
It's Not that Simple is a series of microcomputer controlled musical compositions created with the intention of developing a means for continuous computer music installations. While recent versions of the series have been performance works, the music hardware and software used are prototypes for further, more ambitious installations and compositions. The title is just a statement of two related observations: the first being that any idea, no matter how simple, contains unknown and insurmountable problems when it to comes to its implementation; the second being the ability of people to bury the simplest ideas beneath piles of obfuscated rubbish. All music on this CD was created by a Commodore 64 using software written by the composer. Each composition was produced in "real time."
ARTIFACT RECORDINGS is a project of Ubu, Incorporated, an artist-run, non-profit organization supporting experimental and electronic music and performance based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information about our releases and other activities write: ARTIFACT RECORDINGS, 1374 Francisco Street, Berkeley, CA 94702 U.S.A