Old Baglama

This music is old or is derived from old materials. Regretably, a baglama never features on any of these alternative mixes, live versions, outtakes, or abandoned musical explorations. But like a favourite beverage, Old Baglama is comfortable, a little nostalgic, and gives you energy. 

Guitar Study 1 - Surfaces Mix 

0'59, original version 1992, remixed 1994-95 Concordia University Department of Music, mastered 2022;  original version on the Music for Train Sets album

The Guitar Studies are études for prepared classical guitar and electroacoustic manipulations. The preparations of the guitar included flat objects inserted between the strings in the style of John Cage's prepared pianos. The guitar was struck, plucked, and rubbed; small objects were dropped on the dampened strings. The electroacoustic treatments included layering, looping, reverberation, echo, time expansion, equalization, and editing. 

Guitar Study 1 sets the tone of the following studies. 

Guitar Study 2 - Surfaces Mix 

1'57, original version 1992, remixed 1994-95 Concordia University Department of Music, mastered 2022 ; original version on the Music for Train Sets album 

Guitar Study 2 presents a sparse texture that sounds like bugs in a field. A few people are sitting around in the shade of a hut waiting for the hot sun to set. 

Kandinsky Blue - Naked Mix 

2‘06, 180 bpm, 2017, mastered 2022;  original version on the Fugues and Beats album

Vasily Kandinsky was synesthetic, his senses triggered other senses. Kandinsky Blue interprets Kandinsky’s watercolor “Horizontal Blue” into sound. 

  • A sections translate the vertical lines in the painting into beats. Each horizontal line is voiced by a different percussion instrument. 
  • B sections respond to and make variations on the A sections. 

The rhythm is offbeat and complex, as can happen when you think synesthetically. This version removes the legato layers and chimes to expose the rhythm more emphatically. 

Slow Groove - Naked Mix 

6'04, rhythm loop created 1993, mixed 2006, mastered 2022; original version on the Music for Train Sets album 

Slow Groove started as a tape loop of drum machine samples for a corporate video project, but the groove kept resurfacing until I reshaped it into a longer beat. Processes include filters, delays, distortions, and messing with the control voltage and trigger inputs of a synthesizer. 

I prefer this early mix to the final version because it is clearer and has fewer goings-on. The bass is very deep and mostly on one channel, so it would not sit well on vinyl and could send the stylus on a merry dance across the disc. 

Synthi 

2'16, 1992 Concordia University music studio, mastered 2022 

The music professor loaned the students a Synthi AKS synthesizer to try out, there may have been two. The pinboard matrix was very nice, as was the ring modulation. Rhythm loops and reverb completed this experiment. 

Dizzy All Night 

4'59, 1985 Fanshawe College Studio B, mastered 2022 

Voices: Mark Bonneville, Duncan Inglis, Don Nicklin, Frank Koustrup; Piano: Chris Wenman; Harmonica: Duncan Inglis; Synthesizer, tape echo, guitar: Frank Koustrup 

Dizzy All Night was preceded by a Dizzy Gillespie and Moe Kaufman concert. Duncan and Frank were sent by the school newspaper to an afternoon news conference to ask questions and write profound observations about the great jazzmen. But we knew little about jazz and nothing about bebop, only that Dizzy played a trumpet with an upward-pointing bell. 

Dizzy didn't seem to be having a happy afternoon. As we passed him in the hotel corridor, he shouted heated words at someone from a public phone. At the conference, he had to put up with repeated, insipid, or incoherent questions from smalltown college journalists. The things you have to do to make a living ... he was really pissed off. 

But at the concert, his opening sound penetrated my head and oozed down the spine. It was sublime. 

After the concert, we had an all-night recording session to do, as usual without any sort of a plan, just a synthesizer, piano, several young musicians, and a handful of just-learned studio techniques. As the night progressed, people fell asleep, the echoes became deeper, a joint appeared and was inhaled, paranoid thoughts spun out, and tongues were spoken in reverse. The first guy to pass out — Duncan — was the first to reawaken. His punishment was to babble into a wah pedal. 

Guitar Study 3 

1'55, 1992 Concordia University music studio, mastered 2022 

Guitar Study 3 is based on a rhythm from an African dance that I transcribed from the radio. I spliced percussive sounds from a classical guitar into a tape loop for the beat, then added effects and noises. 

Turnpike 

3'04, 2011, mastered 2022 

Turnpike is an early iPod experiment in the NanoStudio app that I composed in a physiotherapist's waiting room and on a bus while riding along the Massachusetts Turnpike. 

Guitar Study 6 

0'08, samples recorded 1992, edited 2004, mastered 2022 

Eight seconds of a very brief interlude. 

Owl Pellet 

6'29, performed March 28 1986, Onyx Café, London Ontario; edited 2001; mastered 2022 

Owl Pellet presents highlights from the first live show of the Invisible PAIN Field Generator. Kevin Curtis-Norcross dissected an owl pellet. Phil Grant projected photographic slides. Sonic contents included synthesizer music performed by Frank Koustrup, applause, and audience conversations.

Pellet contents included hair and bones from digested mice. 

Fuzz Guitar 

0'04, mid-1980s, mastered 2022 

Four seconds of a brief burst of punk. 

Etiquette 

7'40, performed March 29 1986, Onyx Café, London Ontario; edited 2001; mastered 2022 

Etiquette presents segments from the second and final show of the Invisible PAIN Field Generator. Phil Grant read from a book of etiquette. Frank Koustrup played synthesizer and tape loops of percussion, bass, and religious radio. Audience conversations dominate parts of the recording, and surly applause ends the show with a burp and a snide comment.

The Invisible PAIN Field Generator was not greatly missed. 

Football Game 

1'46, recorded at home 1985, edited 1995, mastered 2022 

On a mechanical channel changer, I rhythmically switched between two adjacent television stations that broadcast the same Detroit Lions football game. One station broadcast from Canada but was delayed slightly from the other station that broadcast from the United States. By playing the channel changer, I could echo and transform the sporting event into something more frightening. 

March for Female Voices 

2'19, 1991 Concordia University music studio, mastered 2022 

Voices of Della Topham, Sue Richer, and Karen Melady 

March for Female Voices is a keyboard improvisation on samples from Three Women (I Married a Theremin from Outer Space), which was a rather heavy-handed and thick composition that I largely ignore. I had much more fun messing around with these samples.

Purgatory Beat 

5'26, source beats 1987, Nasal Beat arrangement 2008 for the Music for Train Sets album; Purgatory Beat arrangement mixed and mastered 2022

The sources come from a mad jam session with housemates during a year in a very old row house. Rent was cheap, the landlords were truly evil, and we believed that the basement contained a crypt. I called that home and year "purgatory" because that's how it all felt at the time.

Casiotone beats are prominent in the first section before parts of Nasal Beat dominate. In the middle, the Casiotone violin swirls out. Nasal Beat takes us home. 

Night Bugs - Stereo Mix 

1'59, source recorded 1993; 1994 composed for Surfaces soundtrack at Concordia University Department of Music; mixed to stereo 2019; mastered 2022; original version on the Music for Train Sets album 

Night Bugs is a drastically slowed and filtered recording of late summer insects in a field in southwestern Ontario. 

Guitar Study 7 

0'56, samples recorded 1992; intro and beats composed 2001; mixed and mastered 2022 

In part A, keys fall on and slide along the strings of a classical guitar while a selection of buzzes mingle. Part B is a beat of muted strings. 

Heather Laughs 

1'49, 1991 Concordia University Department of Music, remastered 2022 

Vocals by Heather McLeod 

Heather has a lovely voice, but instead I used outtakes: laughs, throat clearings, and impromptu comments. 

Guitar Hell 

2'09, 1991 Concordia University audio-visual studio, mastered 2022 

Guitar Hell presents four, unsynchronized, percussive layers of classical guitar with a growly voice. It ends with a steel case being rattled. 

Over You - Acoustic Version 

0'51, song recorded 1987, mastered 2022;  original version on the Greatest Hots album 

Over You was an attempt to write a country-and-western song. The final version mixed heartfelt yearning with chaotic layers of guitars, voices, and synthesizer to generate a psychedelic haze. I managed to write only 3 lines of lyrics, so I repeated them. This outtake exposes the bare vocals and rhythm guitar before swooning into a commentary of looped voices. 

Miles Reverb 

1'34, 2017, mastered 2022;  original version on the Fugues and Beats album 

To cross Canada’s vast spaces takes days or weeks, that is, miles and miles of miles and miles. This abbreviated performance of the chord structure of Miles, dissolves into a whistling reverberation that feels like a fading memory. 

July 1986 

5'30, composed for solo guitar 1986, recorded guitar 1987, composed fugue 2012, mastered 2022 

An early attempt at a fugue, July 1986 is sad, lonely, but also creepy. 

The original guitar music switches time signatures through an A-B structure with a surge between the sections. 

I wrote it in early July 1986 and never found a different title. The title and music reflect the months when I had just graduated from college, had no career prospects, but I did have a summer job in a warehouse lined up. This was a time of pause and uncertainty before events became much more intense over the following purgatorial year. 

The fugue follows the structure of the composed music, but layers pitch-shifted variations of the guitar motifs.

What is "Surfaces"?

Surfaces is a choreography by Catrina von Radecki, performed first at Tangente in Montréal from October 6 to 9, 1994.

After she encountered serious trouble with the music, Catrina fired the composer, and Abigail Amies and Frank Koustrup volunteered to create a new soundtrack in the week or two before the first performance. To meet the urgent deadline, Abigail and Frank reused materials from other compositions.

The first part centers on works by Abigail, the second part on works by Frank.  

The choreography "is inspired by the immensity of an imaginary underwater world." The dance is a duet, as is the music, and both describe an ascent. The musical structure is a series of episodes that touch but don’t blend; each is self-contained. Sounds range from violent jarring clashes, fluttering and pensive ambiences, to rhythmic flurries.

For Surfaces, Frank extended Guitar Studies 1 and 2, inserted Guitar Study 3, and composed Night Bugs