Archive for Bach + Byrnes

Bach+Byrnes: Session 1

Posted in Duos, Sessions with tags , on March 17, 2012 by glenncbach

Byrnes in contemplation

The first recording session for Atlas Sets went off with a bang! I set up shop in Ted’s Pasadena studio, and we worked through four sets (the second set was interrupted before completion), the first of which featured a hybrid performance where I attempted live Foley to a montage of clips from filmmaker Jacques Tati. The remaining three sets were straight-up improv.

I’m working on the recordings, and I’ll post an excerpt or two to Soundcloud. In the meantime, here are the preliminary session notes:

Atlas Sets: Bach+Byrnes
Glenn Bach: percussion, electronics
Ted Byrnes: percussion

Recorded live to four-channel Zoom H2, Friday, March 16, 2012, Pasadena, California.

Bach + Byrnes: Tati as source

Posted in Duos, Resources, Themes with tags , , on March 10, 2012 by glenncbach

Screenshot of “Mon Oncle,” by Jacques Tati

For the first segment of our March 16 session, I will perform an impromptu, and completely non-professional “Foley” interpretation of the sounds of selected scenes from the films of Jacques Tati.  Watching a silenced clip I will respond by activating various objects, instruments, and noisemakers to generate sounds with only a circumstantial relationship to the original visual impetus. My sonic activity will serve as source for Ted as he improvises to my clunky, and I hope not entirely inept, soundtrack.

I chose Tati not only because of the strong presence and personality of the sound design in his films, but also because through his main character and alter ego Monsieur Hulot, Tati explores issues of modernity, technology and a general sense of being “out of place.” This is embodied in his soundtracks, which seem to be added entirely in post-production to what are effectively silent films. The added value of sound-to-image is not at all transparent, with the jarring and often disembodied sounds contributing to the sense of displacement and absurdity in the narrative.

Since Ted will not be able to see the monitor and the visual source for my sounds, he will be removed from the original impetus and must respond to an already “compromised” soundtrack. These layers of slippage will, I hope, result in a complex and nuanced improvisation.

Bach + Byrnes: Transcript Excerpt 1

Posted in Duos, Transcripts with tags on March 5, 2012 by glenncbach

Bach: We can pretty much do whatever we want, and make it whatever we want. I think it’s an opportunity to, first of all, have fun with it. And just see if there are kinds of structures, or motives, or themes that would be interesting to inform the session. It doesn’t have to be a score, although it could be a score, or it could be just a set of ideas and materials that we contemplate, meditate on, and then sit down and make sounds in that spirit.

Byrnes: Right.

Bach: One of my ideas, for part of the jam, is that I would perform as if I was doing Foley for accompaniment to a silent film. So I would be watching a film and I would have an array of objects and [manipulates silverware and dishes].

Byrnes: Depending on what was on screen.

Bach: Yes, and it wouldn’t necessarily be a faithful depiction, so if there was something that I… whatever I picked up…

Byrnes: Obviously there would be a musical element to it.

Bach: Right, and you would watch me and improvise to what I was doing, and you may or may not have access to the film. And then the film gets removed, leaving the trace of our sounds to stand on their own.

Byrnes: I like that idea.

Bach: I thought it was a nice way… I mean, I was thinking what do I play? Do I do laptop, field recordings? Guitar feedback? I have to be careful because I’ll be collaborating with a lot of people and…

Byrnes: You need to parse it out.

Bach: I have a limited bag of tricks, you know? I’m self-taught, and I work with a lot of different types of sounds, but I can’t improvise with someone based on “hey let’s stay in E minor and then progress to…” But I think I have a good sense of flow and…

Byrnes: Right, and that’s all that’s important really.

Bach: So I want to look at each collaboration and see what I can bring, where can we meet and have some kind of commonality, where I’m respectful of what you do as a musician because you have a craft, and you practice and it’s something you take very seriously, and I don’t want to come in and say “Well I can do that.” It’s free music, but “free” is qualified because there’s still a discipline and craft involved.

Byrnes: Yeah, but I don’t think you necessarily need to look at that. You don’t need to address it, as you.  Because whatever I do is going to be based on my experiences anyway, in terms of playing, so whatever you do… I think you’re over-qualifying its importance. So I think you should do whatever you think is appropriate.

Bach: Right, okay.

Byrnes: There are skills that are developed, but they could be anything, from technical proficiency on an instrument, to having a good sense of pace, a pulse…

Bach: A sensitivity to what’s going on and a mindfulness of the soundscape as a whole.

Byrnes: Right. Particularly with percussion it can be fairly obvious when there is… it’s such a physical instrument that, when things are executed, you can tell the level of intensity the musician has, in terms of affection for their instrument. And that’s part of the problem with it, too, is that in order to do some things you need to have a technical ability to do them but it almost defeats the purpose of doing them.

Bach: So, to attain that sort of inner freedom and ability to just respond and to act, the training can get in the way?

Byrnes: Yeah.

Bach: Because you think that you needed to hit this note or this series of hits in this pattern or otherwise it’s going to sound off?

Byrnes: No, I mean, if you look at a lot of improvisers, everyone has a thing. Or a group of things. So, a lot of times what you’ll get, especially with drummers, is a stock response. X drummer plays something, plays X, and then filters that through his brain and then plays Y, because that’s usually what he or she does.

Bach: So, it’s shorthand?

Byrnes: Yeah, I mean it can be. If you listen to enough of that stuff you can almost formulate the response.

Bach: Right.

Byrnes: And that’s what I’m trying to get away from.

Bach: To the best of your ability.

Byrnes: Yeah.

Bach: You as a person and where you are in your life as a musician.

Byrnes: Because my whole thing is density. For me, I want to be doing something at all times. And I don’t know where that came from, to be honest, because sometimes it’s not right. But, I want layers of things.

Bach: Interesting. Okay.

Byrnes: I think it comes from my admiration for electronic music or noise or things like that. Because that’s what that music is. It’s just like layers of stuff. And you can listen to one layer and then another layer. It’s like what you do when I listen to your stuff. So, density has always been my thing.

Bach: The mix.

Byrnes: Yeah, but like, thick. Even if it’s light, I want it to be thick.

Bach: But thick doesn’t necessarily equal loud.

Byrnes: No. I don’t think it ever means volume.

Bach: For you.

Byrnes: Yeah, for me.

Bach: I’m remembering during the times that we jammed, that you were always moving. It’s almost like you’re keeping up this contraption, and you’re the engineer, and you need to keep feeding coal to the engine to keep it running, and even if it’s not loud… it could be a small event, but it’s…

Byrnes: Yep. You’re probably the only person who’s ever… that’s totally my deal. And I have my natural pulse, like I’m a little edgy. Not upset, I’m just…

Bach: Yeah, to inhabit some sense of disruption, or departure from the expected pulse [mimics standard kick and snare pattern].

Byrnes: Right.

Bach: So you’re trying to embody the energy of stuff that isn’t organized. Not chaos, but…

Byrnes, Yeah, but I definitely have a pulse, too. It’s probably subconsciously based on some sort of time, I presume.

Bach + Byrnes: session 1 scheduled

Posted in Duos, Sessions with tags , on March 3, 2012 by glenncbach

Ted and I have scheduled our first recording session on March 16, 2012, 3 PM, at his studio in Pasadena. The session will consist of at least two segments, the first of which will involve me performing a live soundtrack to a silent film with Ted improvising to my sounds without seeing the film. The second, and possibly third segments will be more open-ended improvisations.

Stay tuned.

Bach + Byrnes: Discussion 1

Posted in Duos, Resources, Themes with tags , on February 29, 2012 by glenncbach

Believe the hype: the egg sandwich at Euro Pane is delicious.

Ted and I met for lunch at Euro Pane in Pasadena on February 28, 2012. (The actual location was the third of the sites I charted on Street View.)


Ted Byrnes

We discussed our recent moves (Eagle Rock to Pasadena for Ted, Long Beach to Mar Vista for me), percussion, and ideas about improvisation and approach.


Chilly Pasadena sky

An edited transcript will follow. In the meantime, a couple of themes have developed:

* Density

* Trace/Stencil (a visual resource guides the improvisation, then is removed/erased, leaving the resulting sound events to stand on their own)

* Studio ambience


Pasadena ambience

Bach + Byrnes: some questions

Posted in Duos, Themes with tags on February 28, 2012 by glenncbach

What can be identified as a percussive instrument?

Can free improv co-exist with a separate “track” of sound-to-film performance? And what if that visual stream is no longer present, leaving the sonic trace of its disembodied soundtrack?

What of the slippage between what we perceive to be true and our ability to map it? Between what we hear in our heads and what can be translated into sound?

Euro Pane

Posted in Duos, Maps, Themes with tags , on February 23, 2012 by glenncbach

What is actually here?

Ted picked Euro Pane for our lunch meeting on Tuesday, February 28. GoogleMaps reveals the above image to represent the Street View of the bakery’s address.  What I believe to be the actual location is several storefronts up Colorado Boulevard, on the other side of Mentor Avenue.  The gap between the two locations, the virtual suggestion and the actual site, reveals a lapse in the expected preciseness of contemporary mapping software, another example of digital doubt similar to our encounters with GPS devices that tell us to turn left when there is no left.


This is probably it…

This afternoon, in my lecture on Digital Audio, I was sharing with my students the perpetual gap between the infinitely continuous analog representation of a sound and the discrete, one-snapshot-at-a-time approximation of the digital sample of that analog waveform. How the fudging of a single amplitude’s location to the nearest available digital slot represents a compromise and a subsequent introduction of noise into the original signal. We identify a point in space and time, and we map it as best we can.

So, we begin with an imprecision, some noise added to the system.

The photograph at the top of this post was taken by a Google camera car in September 2011. Has a new business taken over the vacant furniture store or travel agency? (Did Euro Pane move, or open a new outlet, like Starbucks?) Certainly the cars parked on the street are no longer there. Trees have grown and have been trimmed. Cracks deepened in the sidewalk. Asphalt worn down beneath the weight of five months of vehicle traffic.

At what point do we abandon the map and make our own way? How far can we zoom in before we lose our bearings? What potential lies in the spaces lost to the periphery of our attention? What noise there, and how to hear it?

5×5 (score by Ted Byrnes and Ari DeSano)

Posted in Duos, Scores with tags , on February 18, 2012 by glenncbach

x 5
x 5

10 mins
-soft textures, start with some long tones
-becoming more aggressive over the course
-staccato ‘stabs’
-theme begins to develop, hinted towards

10 mins
-theme fully realized, played out and through, thoroughly composed
-improv begins, as a branch grown from the theme
-solo accordion with electronic accompaniment at end of section

10 mins
-low percussion joins accordion – mainly floor placed cymbals, etc. ‘aggressively pastoral’
-evolves into more aggressive percussion
-percussion solo at end of section (with staccato electronic accompaniment – so, read percussion with accompaniment)

10 mins
-everyone begins section together
-completely free and open improv – multiple feels – staccato, density, lack of density – all explored

10 mins
-THEME played joyously and rambunctiously!!!
-in repetition, textural improvisation throughout
-disintegrating in on itself to a forgone conclusion

CM18 (Graphic)

Posted in Duos, Scores, Themes with tags , , on February 18, 2012 by glenncbach

score by Christopher May, A Scratch Orchestra: Draft Constitution

The score Ted and I used for our 5 minute performance as part of Scratch Orchestra: Pilgrimage from Scattered Points. The notes for the score:

Coloured lines in four colours zigzag along in apparently random fashion like erratic markings on a temperature chart. Sometimes three are interwoven, sometimes two. They proceed from left to right through five systems. Sometimes a line abruptly changes colour. The following is a description of the sequence of events: Top system, line 1: green to yellow to red. 2: blue. 3: (starts two thirds along) green. Second system, 1: red. 2: blue to yellow. 3: green. third system, 1: red (ends halfway along). 2: yellow. 3: green. Fourth system, 1: (starts after an inch or so) blue. 2: yellow 3: green to red. Bottom system, 1: blue (ends a couple of inches before the end of the system). 2: (starts halfway along) green. 3: red.

Obviously we were working from a photocopy of the score as it appeared in the book, and so all color information was lost. What happens when you approach a structure with only some of the information? At what point does the score disappear and pure improvisation take over? Was the score merely a node of data to inform the context of the performance?

Glenn Bach and Ted Byrnes

Posted in Duos with tags , , on February 18, 2012 by glenncbach

Ted Byrnes as part of Sound. at Fiesta Hall, Pilgrimage from Scattered Points.

The first set in Atlas Sets has been scheduled: Tuesday, February 28, with Ted Byrnes in Pasadena. I met Ted in Eagle Rock at the rehearsal for the Scratch Orchestra event sponsored by SASSAS. After pairing up for one of the small scores, we noticed an instant musical connection. The event itself was very successful and a lot of fun. Ted later invited me and Steuart Liebig to join him and Ari DeSano in the performance of their score, “5×5,” for another SASSAS-sponsored event at Kings Road Park Pavilion in West Hollywood.

Ted and I have been planning a duo jam ever since, and now our planning takes on extra layers of context as part of Atlas Sets.

More info, and documentation, to follow.