Pogus 21034-2 CD, $14.00 US
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Chris Brown - Talking Drum
Binaural motion recordings composed as a dialogue of distances. Live recordings
of music for electronic network music ensemble juxtaposed with location recordings
of traditional music and environmental soundscapes. Made in Bali, the Philippines,
Turkey, Europe, Cuba and America 1991-99.
This compilation/composition documents nearly a decade of work that began
with the recording of dense sonic environments, both 'natural' and urban.
Talking Drum is an interactive installation made with four networked laptop
computers programmed to explore cyclical polyrhythms in large acoustic spaces.
While the performance of the entire system is synchronized by one computer,
each computer station generates independent results using genetic-programming
algorithms which are affected by acoustic musicians' performances. Each station
in the space "grows" its own rhythmic response to the situation,
like similar plants growing differently in adjustment to their locations in
an environment. The musicians improvise with the rhythms, interacting with
the response of the computers they play next to, and the whole is a quartet
of these human-machine duets.
This recording compiles moments from these performances, and the recordings
that inspired their creation, into one continuous piece. Electronic music
is normally thought of as a medium emphasizing unlimited access to timbre
- I think this is often over-emphasized, and that, at its best, it changes
our experience of space. The traditional African talking drums are played
held under the arms so that their laces can be squeezed to change the pitch
of the drum-head as rhythms are played. The changing pitches and rhythms imitate
patterns of the tonal languages of West Africa, and can be used like musical
telephony to communicate over long distances. This recording follows this
design, creating conversations between different places, environments, people,
rituals, and parties on a global scale.
Chris Brown (b. 1953), composer, pianist, and electronic musician, creates
music for acoustic instruments with interactive electronics, for computer networks,
and for improvising ensembles. Born and raised in Chicago, he moved to California
to study electronic music with Gordon Mumma and composition with William Brooks
at Univ. of California/Santa Cruz, and with David Rosenboom at Mills College.
He was active early in his career as an inventor and builder of electroacoustic
instruments; he has also performed widely as an improvisor and pianist with
such groups as "Room" and the "Glenn Spearman Double Trio".
In 1986 he co-founded the pioneering computer network music ensemble "The
Hub". He is also known for his recorded performances of music by Henry
Cowell, Luc Ferrari, and John Zorn. He has received commissions from the Berkeley
Symphony, the Rova Saxophone Quartet, the Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio, the Gerbode
Foundation, the Phonos Foundation and the Creative Work Fund. His recent music
includes the poly-rhythm installation "Talking Drum", the "Inventions"
series for computers and interactive performers, and the radio performance "Transmissions"
series, with composer Guillermo Galindo. His 1992 epic electroacoustic work
"Lava", for brass, percussion, and electronics is also available on
Tzadik. He teaches Composition and Electronic Music at Mills College in Oakland,
where he is Co-Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM).