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  • dtoub 8:26 pm on Monday, December 28, 2009, 8:26 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bandcamp, this piece intentionally left blank   

    new digital album for free download: this piece intentionally left blank 

    Thanks to JC Combs, I learned about Bandcamp, a free site that enables musicians to create and distribute their own digital albums. I’ve wanted to release some of my own albums for awhile, in essence aggregating some of the audio files I already distribute for free on my music page. In particular, I wanted to get a compendium of some of the different realizations that exist of the piece I wrote in 2006 called this piece intentionally left blank. It’s an open instrumentation piece, and could be performed by any keyboard or any group of instruments. Paul Bailey did an outstanding realization with his group the Diverse Instrument Ensemble at UC Fullerton back in 2007, not long after the work had been composed. It’s only 10 minutes or so, and most of it consists of repeated eighth notes, but some folks seem to like it, so I thought it was worthy of an album. Plus it was written for my friend Kel Smith, who also deserves a shout out.

    Anyway, the entire album downloads pretty fast and can be downloaded in pretty much whatever audio format you want-compressed, uncompressed, it’s all there. Here’s the link.

  • dtoub 12:07 am on Thursday, January 15, 2009, 12:07 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: MIDI, this piece intentionally left blank   

    new versions of ‘this piece intentionally left blank’: collect them all 

    this piece intentionally left blank  is a short work for open instrumentation that I improvised in 2006. The score is a faithful representation of this, mistakes and all, and can be performed by any keyboard with or without any number of instruments. My original version is for electronic keyboard and was realized through Reason and sounds like this. Since that time, it has been performed live in concert by the Diverse Instrument Ensemble as arranged for several acoustic instruments by Paul Bailey. In response to the call for scores for the recent Sequenza 21 concert in NYC, I arranged the piece for piano, violin, viola and flute owing to the instrumentation of the ensemble performing in the concert. While it wasn’t selected for the concert, I’m still holding out hope that the Lost Dog Ensemble will eventually perform it. In any case, there’s a decent MP3 of this version here, and it brings out nuances of the work that perhaps aren’t as obvious in the previous two versions. Also in the interim, Paul took it upon himself to play with his Kaossilator and started to do his own realization of the score. I heard his initial work on this, which got about halfway or so into the score, and really love it. What’s unique about Paul’s realization is that he also improvises on the score itself. It’s clearly this piece intentionally left blank, but a variation on it, if you will. The bummer is that Paul’s PC crapped out and his work on this version might be lost forever. I have the MP3 of the partial work, which is definitely better than nothing, but I’d love to see it finished.

    Why all this discussion about this piece intentionally left blank? Because it’s multiplying, and I’m going to start to lose count of all the versions if I don’t document it somewhere. Last week, a stranger e-mailed me to apprise me that he was going to learn to play the work on the piano. I was delighted to hear this, and even more so when he informed me that he’s just learning it on his own because he is a math teacher who just happens to have been looking for some minimalist piano music to learn. While he won’t be performing it publicly, I’m hoping he might be able to make an audio file I could hear, since I’d love to see what he is doing with it. 

    My mentioning this on twitter lead to the composer extraordinaire JC Combs taking it on himself to tweak my crappy MIDI file (Finale and Reason both have issues exporting MIDI for some reason, Finale being particularly bad) while he generated his own version for piano. In the meantime, I took James’ edited MIDI file (which contains some accents but is otherwise pretty consistent with the score) and scored it in Reason for electronic piano, vibraphone and electric bass. You can hear the results here. James subsequently developed his own version for piano, and has just been blogging about his work with the MIDI file on his blog. To make it the story even more complicated, Jeff Harrington got into the act (see what twitter does?) and applied a randomization program to the MIDI velocities, although both of us think the results are not that dissimilar to what JC did. Whatever. Jeff made two different realizations for piano that are themselves quite nice.

    Anyway, the beauty of an open instrumentation work like this piece intentionally left blank is that the possibilities are endless. It is now becoming one of my more popular works (not that anything I write will ever be “popular;“ but in the niche that new music has become, it’s more popular than some of my other crap, I suppose). I’ve posted several versions on my music page, and I’m sure there will be more to come. What’s nice is that people seem to really take to the piece. And it’s very interesting to see how the small community of new music composers that we are is taking the score and/or MIDI file and doing different things with it, be it live performances or just using some MIDI-based sounds to make it into something a bit new. It’s an organic piece, and that’s a very cool thing. I wrote it for my homie Kel Smith, and I’m glad the work is getting more attention, not less, as it ages.

    • J.C. Combs 3:59 am on Saturday, January 17, 2009, 3:59 am Permalink


      Thanks for bearing with me during my experiment. I can honestly say my realization did not do your piece justice (even with all good intentions). Postminimalism is an altogether different beast for the piano-based VST (this is a good thing). The experiment was a great learning experience for me. I heard the magic in every chord change, in every note. This work deserves a live piano recording and I challenge any pianist to give this piece its due!


    • dtoub 11:21 pm on Saturday, January 17, 2009, 11:21 pm Permalink

      JC, thanks for the nice words! I’d certainly love to see someone perform this on piano, or any other keyboard. But I really like your realization. There are advantages, and disadvantages, to MIDI. I’ve had great results and also plenty of files that seem cursed and just don’t do what they ostensibly should be doing. Finale and Reason both seem to screw up my best intentions (Finale especially), and I have just resolved to consider all of this a bit of voodoo that sometimes yields nice results and sometimes is just bad.

      Thanks again for taking this on!

  • dtoub 3:56 pm on Wednesday, July 2, 2008, 3:56 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , this piece intentionally left blank   

    new arrangement of ”this piece intentionally left blank“ 

    I wrote a piece in 2006 called this piece intentionally left blank. It was improvised with only a handful of very trivial tweaks afterwards, and is written as an open instrumentation piece. That is, it is intended to be played by any keyboard or group of instruments, and I have no issue whatsoever with anyone transposing notes to keep within a particular instrument’s range, or otherwise taking necessary steps to realize the piece. Indeed, I know of one person who is keeping within the spirit of the piece and using it as a starting point. In other words, while it’s fully notated, and conventionally at that, there is nothing wrong with viewing it in the same way as one views a ”graphically notated“ work; it’s a starting point, and there is room for the performer(s) to interpret and make each realization a unique experience.

    There are two versions of ”tpilb” on my site. One is the original improvisation done with Reason 3, using a synthesizer patch. The other is from a live performance in California on 5/8/2007 by the Diverse Instrument Ensemble, as realized by Paul Bailey and conducted by Lloyd Rogers. 

    Well, now there’s a third version. This one is for flute, violin, cello and piano. It’s not an easy grouping to score for, and I really took great pains to avoid continuous music in the flute since most wind and brass players generally take one look at some of my music and think I’m nuts (yeah, I get it—humans need to breathe. But that doesn’t stop didjeridoo players of all shapes and sizes, so perhaps if more flautists learned to circular breathe…well, I’ll stop here before getting into a diatribe). In other words, this arrangement shouldn’t pose significant difficulties for performers other than not getting lost. And I made the score even easier by using the usual repeat signs rather than writing each identical measure out (as I did for specific reasons in the original score). Finally, Paul Bailey made some helpful suggestions regarding layout and performance that I’ve incorporated into the score. Always nice to have feedback from an expert musician and fellow composer. 

    So the score is here. And the mp3 is here. Let me know what you think in the comments below. And if anyone wants to make his or her own realization either electronically or in live performance, let me know

    • J.C. Combs 10:54 pm on Wednesday, July 2, 2008, 10:54 pm Permalink

      That is one of my favorite works of yours. The only word that comes to mind…, badass.

    • david 6:52 am on Thursday, July 3, 2008, 6:52 am Permalink

      Thanks–I suspect others will come up with additional descriptors, some of which are probably less generous! Much appreciated!

    • ks 7:30 pm on Friday, July 4, 2008, 7:30 pm Permalink

      I love this version. I think I respond much more to the “feel” of this performance – can sense the interplay between the different voices, and the tension is increased as a result. When things open up around the 8-minute mark, it’s quite magical. And hey, my name’s on the score! That’s so cool.

      Nice job.

    • david 10:29 pm on Friday, July 4, 2008, 10:29 pm Permalink

      Thanks, Kel. Hoping it gets played in December, and if so, you and Chris are invited 😎

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