This String Quartet is made up of three movements with the two outer movements serving as mirrored poles and a contrasting second movement in the middle. The piece is very free but the first and third movements are comprised (almost) entirely of a repetitive intervallic pattern which is cut up and manipulated in many ways, so as to make it mostly unrecognizable. In the second movement, the darkness of the outer movements subsides, giving way to a droning foundation and singing melody. Tremendous gratitude belongs to the literary work of William S. Burroughs, whose revolutionary “cut up“ method in part inspired the techniques that I employed throughout the piece in developing my interval fragments.
This piece is a meditative drone based composition which features the Buchla analog synthesizer processed in Max/MSP. Individual sounds were layered on top of one another using the record~ object to store sounds in a buffer~. These musical objects were then looped using groove~ to form a psychedelic texture which envelops the listener. Below I will describe the process through which each sound was developed.
The first drone to enter on the note G was created using the principal oscillator on the Buchla’s 259 module. This sound was panned hard left and includes timbre modulation on the buchla itself as well as further filtering using the cascade~ object in Max/MSP.
The second drone to enter on the note C was created with the modulation oscillator on the Buchla 259. This sound had minimal processing in Max, and instead it’s interest was generated using the Buchla’s 291E triple morphing filter.
The third and fourth sounds to enter are sequences that were created using the Buchla 259E modules principal and modulation oscillators respectively and tuned to specific intervals from the C harmonic series using the 250 sequencer. Each step in the sequence was triggered using the 216 keyboard pulse function. The two sequences were then delayed in Max using the tapin~ and tapout~ objects, with the random object changing the set delay time so that each iteration of the sequence is different.
The fifth and final sound to be recorded into Max was made using the 259’s principal oscillator tuned to the same pitch as the very first drone. However, the sound was modulated using the the 259 modulation oscillator via the hard-wired modulation switches for pitch and timbre and turning the modulation pot gradually over a period of time fixed by the buffer~ object in Max. Unlike the first sound, this sound was panned hard to both the left and right channels.
List of Intervals for 259E sequences:
Principal Oscillator – 2/1, 6/5, 11/8, 3/2, 6/5, 17/16