Our dear friend (and co-founder of the Hartford New Music Festival in 2011) Matt Sargent moved from Hartford, CT to Buffalo, NY this past fall to continue his studies. We were all of course sad to see him go, but are happy that he will be presenting some new work at this year’s festival. The piece he’s presenting, entitled no where i’m bound, grew out of a collaboration with DC-based visual artist Colby Caldwell. Matt sent me a folio of images today with some words about the piece to share on the blog.
no where i’m bound was commissioned by the Hemphill Gallery in Washington D.C. to accompany Gun Shy a visual art show by Colby Caldwell. Colby’s work for the show utilized high-definition scanners to capture detritus from the rural landscape of southern Maryland: spent shotgun shells, bird carcasses, and strands of milkweed.
In creating this piece, I set upon working with my own memory of rural landscapes and processes of decay: musical ideas that could be heard as a point in time within an ongoing process of erosion, similar to the states of the visual materials collected and documented by Colby.
The resultant piece focuses on the melody “I Don’t Know Where I’m Bound”. The piece is an abstraction of the original melody, using a “crossing” process of lines connecting intervallic relationships in the melody. The crossing process produced eight new melodies, each a linear traversing through the original melody: these eight new melodies were then layered over top of one another as interlocking parts and recorded at the Hemphill Gallery with Kelli Kathman (alto flute).
Once recorded, the audio of each of the eight parts underwent a process of erasure. I constructed an algorithm to stretch the each flute note individually, then run the stretched tone through a failing/destructive ancient reel-to-reel preamp (which erases and filters out some audio with each pass), and then stretch that resultant reprocessed recording, etc. The decay process ||: stretch->erasure->stretch : || is repeated many times, until it reaches an iteration in which one more pass through the system would completely erased all of the audio. These sounds, on the brink of complete erosion from acoustic sound back into signal noise, form the resulting piece: a flickering halo of residual sound from the original Cash melody.
— Matt Sargent