Shit Show 2020

Virus

 

The first response to a pandemic is fear.     
This virus infects you, takes control of your cells, propagates, spreads, and ultimately eats you alive. Your consciousness fades and fights through fever and your choked and faltering breaths.     
It isn't personal, you see, you are simply a host. 

11'20, 2020, stereo   

My mother in law had strong opinions, one of which was that she was never afraid of anything that was smaller than her. She would use this assertion to taunt people who feared spiders or rodents, and lived in terror of mosquitoes and other biting insects. I do fear things that are smaller than me: fungal infections, bacteria, viruses. After all, germs spread by mosquitoes have killed far, far more people than people have. 

"Virus" has 13 sections plus a short outro, each lasts about 50 seconds.  

The first section is a statement of the original theme as composed, looped, and layered in Animoog.  
For the following sections, the bass spectrum is filtered from the higher frequencies, processed to emphasize the low frequencies, and mixed in the center of the stereo field. The higher frequencies are processed and mixed through multiple effects. As the sections progress, these higher-frequency mixes shift in pitch a quarter tone down, a semitone down, a quarter tone up, a semitone up, all while the bass-frequency part remains at the steady, core pitch.  
The outro section fades to a heartbeat-like loop.  

Virus is not tonal; it sustains the same pitch throughout like a drone but in conflict with the quartertone shifts. The idea is to evoke the action and effect of a viral infection. As the immune system responds to and fights the virus, consciousness fades and floats through a queasy blur of sickness. Survival is paramount as you fight death. 

As of April 2020, this was the ugliest music that I had made in many years. There is nothing uplifting here. I only hoped to see the other side of the pandemic, God willing.

Bounce

Disclaimer: No stringed instruments were harmed in the composition of this music.    

14'47, 2020, stereo    

The Covid-19 pandemic made the city and its airport quiet, so it was an appropriate time to capture quiet sounds at home.    

I bounced the strings of a quartet of acoustic stringed instruments against a bookshelf. Three sets of microphones simultaneously captured the sounds of the bouncing strings. I edited the source recordings into motifs - mostly as wave-shaped envelopes - by layering the recordings, and then processed these motifs through effects. 

The structure is in three movements introduced, separated, and concluded by four "ludes" - a prelude, two interludes, and a postlude - made up of waves of bounces. The movements express themes in mono and stereo variations in fugal exploration. Movements 1 and 2 follow similar layerings of textures; Movement 3 starts with a raw guitar phrase which it repeats with varying textures. 

This composition has no accompanying narrative.