What They're Doing
This piece was created out of preexisting musical fragments on a computer using digital audio editing techniques, during a period extending from the Fall of 2003 into mid January of 2004. It is the third piece which I have created using this compositional technique. Heather Berringer, a member of the contemporary concert music ensemble Zeitgeist, provided me with four CDs full of various unreleased live performance recordings of her group. I recorded this material into a computer, and then went through each piece, carefully extracting fragments, which I thought could be musically useful for the piece I wanted to create. The average length of these excised fragments was about four or five seconds. Many were considerably shorter and a handful were significantly longer.
This process of harvesting musical fragments was the most time consuming aspect of the project, and was actually compositionally significant. A great many aesthetic and editorial decisions were made during this phase of the process. For example, I would often decide to sample a particular fragment because I knew it would work in an interesting way with another fragment I had already sampled earlier. As I got further and further into this harvesting process, I started to find myself looking for more and more specific types of things that I knew would work well with my growing body of fragments. Sometimes I would be surprised by something I came across, and this would send me off in whole new directions of other new material to search for. But in the end, this palette of musical fragments had built into it, a significant amount of aesthetic coherence, which served as a musically useful limiting factor. This helped to provide the final piece with a kind of unity, before the actual musical construction even began.
Once the fragment harvesting was complete, I could start building the piece. This was done on a Macintosh computer using a software program called Digital Performer. In this environment I was able to place, edit, combine, distort, multiply, signal process, stretch, shrink, slice, dice and generally manipulate the fragments to form my composition.
The following is a list of compositions from which musical fragments were extracted to create this piece.
Three Songs of the Spirit
Webster Band Suite
Zamuro Tumbo Mirage
Webster Elementary School students