Archive for the Duos Category

Atlas Sets at RAM

Posted in Duos, Sessions with tags , , , on January 4, 2014 by glenncbach

Not bad for a Thursday night. A successful performance and recording session for Soft Sound Loud Loud Sound Soft, the Atlas Sets session with Philip Mantione. A good crowd, some perhaps in town for the annual Festival of Lights in downtown Riverside.


Bach setup + recording to Zoom H4n

We captured a four-channel recording of the atrium space, as well as separate direct feeds from our own boards. We’ll be reviewing the recordings over the next few months. Stay tuned.




All eyes on Phil.


View from the balcony.


Near the end of the set.

Bach + Mantione at Riverside Art Museum

Posted in Duos, Sessions with tags , , , , , on December 21, 2013 by glenncbach

Soft Sound Loud Loud Sound Soft
A site specific performance by sound artists Philip Mantione and Glenn Bach featuring live computer music and custom-built instruments to take place in the Atrium of the Riverside Art Museum.

Bach’s music features typically loud sounds (ie. distorted guitar) that have been manipulated and drastically reduced in volume to contemplative levels, encouraging the listener to experience the subtleties and delicacies in timbre and texture which he creates.  In response, Mantione will use manipulated samples of typically soft sounds (ie. pins dropping) and raise their levels to expose the sonic detail normally beyond the scope of human hearing. He will also perform on a custom-built electronic Aeolian harp, an instrument traditionally designed to be activated by the wind.

Listeners/viewers will be able to freely enter and exit the space and get up close and personal with the performers. The artists have agreed to collaborate as part of the Atlas Sets. Conceived by Bach, the Atlas Sets are “a collaborative conversation about musical map-making, contemplative practice, creative community, and artistic intention.”

Riverside Art Museum

January 2, 2014
7:00 – 8:30pm

Bach + Mantione: SSLLSS

Posted in Duos, Structure, Themes with tags , , on November 8, 2013 by glenncbach

Mantione: I’ve been playing with ideas for our RAM performance.  Writing a new patch that will double as a sample playback device and live input manipulator.  I think I’m going to use an electronic Aeolian harp I built for an installation some time ago. It has 12 strings and is made from Home Depot materials.  Completely untunable, but that’s okay.  Today I made a bowing structure from a cool tree branch I found.  Strung it up with a low E string, and will use that as one way to activate the harp.  So, I’ll divide my performance between live activation and manipulation of the harp and triggered samples.  Plan to record a ton of sounds (about 100) with contact mics to compile 4 banks of 25 which can be triggered with my little Korg KB.  Will also program some generative ideas in MAX.

I know we roughly discussed a 2 hour performance/installation.  Now I’m thinking that may be a bit long.  On the other hand, I’ve found that pushing the time frame just beyond the limit of comfort can yield unexpected and fortuitous events. How does 90 minutes sound to you?

It’s a square space and very reverberant with a high glass dome.  There are actually four balconies, one on each wall facing each other.  I’m thinking we could place speakers up there in stereo pairs facing each other on opposite sides and facing down.  This may require significant cabling regarding length.  I will bring my 8″ Mackies…do you have something comparable for the second pair? We could set-up on the ground floor in the center and run cable such that we would hear the other’s sound in the front and back and our own sound left and right.

This sounds perfect. I’m excited about the harp and sample alternation; seems like a fertile palette.

Following the Loud/Soft approach, I would love to take those initial recordings, overdrive them into feedback, and then parse them back out into the space as part of our performative conversation. A transmutation of quiet into loud and back into quiet.

I’m fine with long performances, and ninety minutes seems like enough time to investigate and explore the sounds as they are broadcast back into the space. That would also give us time to reflect on the space itself and the overall soundscape of that evening’s festivities. Did you hear back from Kathryn about an artist talk?

I will bring my M-Audio BX5 monitors, but I’ll have to invest in some longer cables. Yet another reason to visit the space soon and map out our intervention.

Glenn Bach and Steve Barsotti

Posted in Duos with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2013 by glenncbach

The next collaboration in the Atlas Sets series will be with composer, field recordist, and educator Steve Barsotti. Since Steve lives in Seattle, the first conversation will take place over a Skype connection, Tuesday, September 10, 2013.


Steve Barsotti in his element.

Glenn Bach and Jorge Martin

Posted in Duos with tags , , , , , on August 8, 2013 by glenncbach

Jorge Martin as part of SCSE at {open}.

The next installment of Atlas Sets will be with Jorge Martin, a mainstay of the Southern California noise/sound scene. Our conversation and recording session is scheduled for Sunday, August 18th in Mar Vista. UPDATE: my conversation with Jorge has been postponed because of technical and scheduling issues. Stay tuned…

Archive of Ear Meal set

Posted in Duos, Sessions with tags , , on July 8, 2013 by glenncbach
Bach + Nakagawa on Ear Meal

Glenn Bach and Alan Nakagawa performing live on Ear Meal.

Here is the archived set of the Ear Meal performance of Atlas Sets by Glenn Bach and Alan Nakagawa. With a combination of live electronics and field recordings, Bach and Nakagawa set up the foundation for future collaborations in this twenty-five minute exploration of purposed and accidental soundscapes.

Atlas Sets (Bach + Nakagawa) on Ear Meal webcast

Posted in Duos, Sessions with tags , , on June 30, 2013 by glenncbach


Glenn Bach and Alan Nakagawa will perform their Atlas Sets collaboration on the webcast Ear Meal, Wednesday, July 3, 9:30 PM.

Soft Sound Loud Loud Sound Soft

Posted in Duos, Proposals, Structure, Themes with tags , , , on May 17, 2013 by glenncbach

Soft Sound Loud Loud Sound Soft

Proposal for a live sound performance/installation by Glenn Bach and Philip Mantione
@ the Riverside Art Museum

Sound artists Philip Mantione and Glenn Bach have agreed to collaborate as part of the Atlas Sets. Conceived by Bach, the Atlas Sets are “a collaborative conversation about musical map-making, contemplative practice, creative community, and artistic intention.” This event would be part of that series.

Artist Statement

Soft Sound Loud Loud Sound Soft

Glenn Bach’s music features typically loud sounds (ie. distorted guitar) that have been manipulated and drastically reduced in volume to contemplative levels, encouraging the listener to experience the subtleties and delicacies in timbre and texture which he creates. In response, Mantione will use manipulated samples of typically soft sounds (ie. pins dropping) and raise their levels to expose the sonic detail normally beyond the scope of our sense of hearing.

We propose the use of the Atrium area at the Museum. Each composer would set-up on one of the opposing balconies that jut out into the space and perform live for the length of the show (approximately 2 hours). Listeners/viewers will be able to freely enter and exit the space, and move about to experience the sound from various perspectives.

Proposed Time and Date

We would like the performance/installation to coincide with the Festival of Lights in Riverside and the Riverside Arts Walk on Thursday, January 2, 2014 – 6:00pm to 8:00pm.


Access to A/C power for each balcony set-up

Bach + Mantione: Idea

Posted in Duos, Structure, Themes with tags , , on February 19, 2013 by glenncbach

Mantione: Just had a thought about our collaboration.  I was impressed with your performance quite a bit and it occurred me that since you’re taking loud sounds and taking them way down in volume, it would be a nice contrast to record very soft sounds and exaggerate their volume.  To borrow yet another Cagean concept (from the directions for Atlas Eclipticalis) where he suggested that loud sounds be played short and soft sounds be played long, I would focus on short bursts of timbre based on recorded samples while you do your thing.  Sort of a blanket of sound periodically pierced and divided by points of focused aural saturation.  Of course we would need to secure a location and I still like the idea of capturing the sounds in the same space prior to the performance.

Bach + Nakagawa: Transcript Excerpt

Posted in Duos, Transcripts with tags , , , , on November 10, 2012 by glenncbach

Alan at Mi Ranchito.

Bach: Now, with the IsoCube, what’s the sound source?

Nakagawa: [laughs] It’s interesting.

Bach: I know there’s a story behind it.

Nakagawa: I put a bunch of stuff in there. There’s one microphone.

Bach: One microphone. So, you’re manipulating objects and the signals captured by the mic and then run through pedals…

Nakagawa: That rig I use mostly with Ear Diorama Ear, with Kaoru. The IsoCube is hooked up to these pedals, and I have another set of pedals that are hooked up to a circuit-bent keyboard, a Skychord, the Utopia pedal. I also have the Glamour Box.  I sent it back to him, he said he’d fix it, and that was two months ago. I don’t know, so I hope he’s okay. I have no other contact info other than the e-mail and the phone number I have for him. I had a friend e-mail him too, without referencing me, and he hasn’t heard back either. I hate to lose my Glamour Box, but I hope this guy’s okay. I’m pretty sure he’s a one-man operation.

Bach: I bet.

Nakagawa: These companies like Skychord are fantastic for people like us. I just bought the Utopia from a musician in the Universal Studios area, and I asked him, “Are you done with this?” And he said, “Yeah, I got a bunch of synthesizers that pretty much do the same thing. So, there’s no need for it. I bought it for this one project.” So, I took it that maybe he’s a composer who does soundtracks. And I thought, “Yeah, a synthesizer would do this, but it’s not the same” [laughs].

Bach: Yeah.

Nakagawa: Anyway, so I started playing with that. This one has two oscillators on it. The Glamour Box has two oscillators and two modulators. That’s all they are. You don’t know what the hell you’re doing, because there are just dials and switches. No screen or nothing. So you’re shooting in the dark.

Bach: Right.

Nakagawa: I like that aspect of it. It’s fun. It has a built-in chance operation. You know the genre of what it will do, but you don’t know exactly what it will do. I like that. And the isoCube was a way for me…because I started as a drummer, and that was the drummer in me wanting to be a guitar player…

Bach: Interesting.

Nakagawa: Because the guitar player gets to play with the pedals. So, it’s a box, you put your hands in there. Lately I’ve been using one hand, and there’s something in there that you play. And it’s usually something that I think would be really difficult to mic with an open mic.

Bach: Yeah.

Nakagawa: You get feedback, and all of this residual sound, this atmospheric sound through the pedal, which I can’t say never happens with the isoCube, it does, but less so, and you have more control with the feedback thing. The first isoCube was a black box, and nobody could see what I was playing. The new box has a window in the front. Double-plated plexi, pretty thick. The intent is for it to be semi-soundproof. It’s not perfectly soundproof because you can put your hands through. I think it’s pretty good. So far it’s worked out really well because the sound that comes out of it is pretty damn pure. It’s pretty close to what’s in there.

Bach: And it comes out of a 1/4 inch jack?

Nakagawa: Yeah. So that’s been my mode of music-making. It’s taken me a long time, as opposed to many of the people who have been on Ear Meal, to relinquish the drumset. To relinquish the instrument you started with. I’m even thinking of selling the drumsets I have. Maybe keep one. I think I’ve finally kicked it out of my system. It’s taken a long time. I love drumming. I love playing drums. Sometimes when I’m in the midst of playing, I’m thinking to myself, “Why are you still playing drums?” [laughs]

Bach: What is this doing for you?

Nakagawa: What is this doing for me? Keeping my chops up? What for? So, the isoCube helps me phase into a place I think I should have been much earlier [laughs] in my career. It helps me, because it’s like being a percussionist, but you’re using percussion for sound source.

Bach: Right.

Nakagawa. Not a maraca.

Bach: It divorces the drum kit from rhythm. From providing…

Nakagawa: Right.

Bach: It’s a musical instrument, but one of its most powerful uses is to provide pulse, rhythm, and, a lot of avant garde percussionists do that…

Nakagawa: Yeah, who are wonderful. But I don’t want to play like that. I’m not interested. I recently had Ted [Byrnes]…he was recently on two shows this season. He’s awesome. Tatsuya Nakatani is phenomenal. Joe Beradi, these are amazing players, but I have no interest in playing the drums like that. There are some great folks out there lately, turning the drumset upside down. There’s always going to be rock in me.

Bach: Yeah.

Nakagawa: I was always a rock player, and I still love singing songs once in a while. That’s always going to be in my blood. I’m never going to be John Cage.

Bach: We do what we do, and we have fun, and we explore the interface we have with music, which is what experimental music is. An exploration. One of the terms I’ve seen used in place of experimental music is exploratory music.

Nakagawa: Okay.

Bach: Getting out of the scientific aspect of it, or the trappings of that term. Because how many people think of it in terms of a hypothesis, conducting an experiment, and analyzing the results? Exploratory ties into the idea of looking for meaning, for discovery, for something new, not necessarily new in terms of ‘no one has ever done this before,’ but new to you in terms of “What is this? What is this sound that I’m hearing? What’s happening with this combination of sounds? Did I generate that? If I did, now what do I do with it? The structure of sounds sequentially broadcast, what does that mean? What kind of musical narrative does that generate?” So, having fun with it. Having a community of artists who feel the same way, or who are at least open to it. That’s why I’ve been so blessed with all the people I’ve worked with over the years, having this shared…aesthetic? Not aesthetic…a shared…

Nakagawa: Approach? Vision?

Bach: Culture. A shared culture of openness and a willingness to treat improvisation in similar ways, with a similar respect. Instead of going into an improv situation and, like you said, imposing. Implementing. “I’m going to do this [mimics wall of sound].” Rather than “I’m going to listen. I’ll see what happens, and I’ll respond, or not, to what everyone else is making, to see if we can have a conversation in the musical moment.” And, as you know, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Nakagawa: But you’re open to that.

Bach: You’re open to that. And the people we work with share that. And if they don’t share it, we soon realize that we probably won’t work with them very often. Because there’s not a lot of communication. I don’t do a lot of large group improvisations anymore because I don’t like being in situations where I’m struggling to hear what I’m playing. We’re all going through the same P.A., and we’re all competing to be heard, and the stuff that I’m doing tends to be quiet anyway, because I’m interested in threshold, in tones intermingling and having this awareness of where the sound comes in and how it changes as it gets slightly louder. And for that kind of careful listening, it doesn’t really happen much in…

Nakagawa: Right. I read the interview [Atlas Sets] with Jeff and Steve [Roden], and they talked a little bit about that.

Bach: Yeah.

Nakagawa: I think that’s really important. I don’t know if it has to do with our age, or our experience, but I really feel I’m at a point where I’m saying no a lot. The past twelve months I’ve said no to a lot of opportunities. Where, before I would say, “Yeah! I’ll do that! Absolutely!” Lately I’ve been saying, “No, I’m working on this right now, I really need to focus on this.” That’s not the same Alan Nakagawa from ten years ago, twenty years ago.

Bach: There’s a maturity, a relief, a recognition of quality of life issues. I can accept all of these opportunities, do all these things, and, not only that, but seek them out, and I know I’m going to have certain results from those. Do them enough and you see the cause-and-effect [laughs], the type of result that comes from those types of things. It doesn’t interest me…

Nakagawa: Yeah.

Bach: To know that I’ll be put in those situations and struggle to have a musical experience that makes sense for me.

Nakagawa: Right.

Bach: If it doesn’t make sense from the beginning, I’m probably not going to be able to transform it enough…

Nakagawa: Ah. That’s not good. Why are you there?

Bach: Trying to force it to transform. Rather than working with something that is integrally open and possible to begin with. Work from there, from a good foundation, and nine times out of ten you can get decent results. But if the starting point is already stacked against you, trying to go in and force it to a place it’s not meant to be…I’m not interested.

Nakagawa. Life’s too short. In Ear Diorama Ear, Kaoru is…you know, she’s a fairly established vocalist in this genre, and she’s been doing this for a while. Allegedly she’s older than I am, but I’ve never had the guts to ask her [laughs] how old she is. But, I can’t imagine that she’s that much older than me, but she keeps saying, “You are so young.”

Bach: Ah [laughs].

Nakagawa: When we first started really working together, there was this point where we became committed: Ear Diorama Ear is going to last a long time. She said, “I don’t want to be a jam band. I’ve been in too many jam bands, and I already know what’s going to happen, and I’m really not interested in that. I need a structure for each song.” So, she comes in with the structure, the piece. And I bring in things that are almost trying to destroy that structure. And that’s how Ear Diorama Ear operates. We call them songs. They’re songs because she’s singing, and they’re primarily improv, but there’s a structure. So when I was reading Steve and Jeff and you talk, I said “Yeah, exactly. That’s where we are.” But we weren’t there twenty years ago. Back then it was like, “Okay, everyone, bring your gear and then Go,” and someone starts. And when I read that I was like, “Wow, you guys are there too.” We can’t do that anymore. It seems like a waste of time. Really. It just seems like a waste of time. And Kaoru introduced that to me. I think I’ve always had a structure, because, as someone who was trained in the visual arts, I completely gravitated to non-traditional notation, you know?

Bach: Yeah. Right.

Nakagawa: You don’t need the five staffs. So I am completely not a musician based on that. I’m interested in diagramming in my mind the textures, sub textures, and form of the music. I always think of maps. You look at a map, you know where you’re going to go, but you don’t have to take…there are hundreds of paths to that spot. That is what my music is about. Picking what I think is the right path…keeping myself open to what the right path is to that spot. That’s what my notations are.

Bach: It’s an entryway.

Nakagawa: It’s an entryway. It’s a promise to yourself, “This is where we’re going. We’re not going over there.” But, it’s up to me to completely use the tools that I have, which also includes my openness to accept the mistakes and the new things. I think Steve [Roden] calls them ‘wonderful mistakes.’

Bach: Yeah.

Nakagawa: I’m open to that. I think that comes out of being trained in jazz. Being open to…there are always those empty staffs on the notation where you’re supposed to jam [laughs], or take a solo. I love that. So my music is completely about that part of the music. It’s still there; we know where we are, but that’s my job, to fill in that improv area of that specific song. I still approach it that way. And, on top of it I want to make this into a painting, or whatever…so, I’m very interested in that.