Category Archives: Compositon

Have an Udderbot Xmas

So-called hit single from “An Udderbot Xmas” (unfinished, 2007). Jacob Barton on udderbots, vocals, gong (that’s all there is!).

Amateuroso music video created Xmas 2010 by JAB+TES3+Leaves of Grass.

STEREO FIELDAGE: use headphones or decent speakers to honor your attentiveness.

TUNING NOTE: This piece is tuned to an 11-note subset of 19 equal divisions of the octave, a “kleismic” chain of minor thirds.

METRIC NOTE: As drawn poorly on the pavement, the udderbot drum machine moves *smoothly* from a 16-beat pattern to a 17-beat pattern by way of 11 (nexus at 2:05), using the same kind of process used to generate the tuning, but applied to rhythm. Credit due to Erv Wilson and others.

Eighty-one ninth chords

Eighty-one 9th chords (2006) by Jacob Barton

for two pianos tuned to 17edo

Program note from 1st performance (Seventeen Tone Piano Project Phase Two)

There are three types of thirds in 17-edo; let’s call them subminor (4/17-oct), neutral (5/17-oct), and supermajor (6/17-oct). If a ninth chord is composed of five notes separated by four thirds, then there are 3^4 = 81 of them in 17-edo. You will hear each of these once. Begin with the smallest — all subminor thirds — and end with the largest—all supermajor. The rhythm will help you keep track of the unfolding expansion. If you like the logic of this piece, I recommend the composer Tom Johnson.

Program note from second performance (Señor Recital)

In Eighty-one ninth chords you will hear 81 ninth chords, each one a different type. I tried in the piece to let them be themselves but also connect them. Since composing it I read in Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet (an autistic savant who sees and feels certain things when thinking about certain numbers) of nine as a number of particular immensity to him. This is exactly what it does here—phrases of length 2 or 8 feel even; 3 or 9 is ever a stretch.

Recording here:

http://www.archive.org/download/seventeenTPP_02/81_ninth_chords.mp3

Update: new recording made with Pianoteq is featured on effluve ana moontense.

Score here:
81_9th_chords.pdf

Udderbot sextet no. 1

Udderbot sextet no. 1 “Three Shavings off the Infinite Block of Goodness” was written in 2005, when the udderbot hadn’t been christened yet and was called a “slide bottle”. In a didactic fashion, each movement takes a different approach to mediating between, on the one hand, the difficulties of learning this instrument for the first time and, on the other hand, the ease of composing for this instrument for the first time.

A final edition of the score is available here; instructions on making your own udderbot are available at http://udderbot.wikispaces.com. A video is coming soon, we all hope.

Studio recordings of movements I and III:
[audio:plunge.mp3]
[audio:shallow.mp3]

Recordings of the premiere live performance are at the Fun with Xenharmonicity archive.

De-quinin’ for two clarinets

Thie piece was written for Maiko Sasaki in 2006. Of the two clarinets, one must be tuned flat by 33¢. Composing this piece, I pondered how to make interested uses of the intervals of 36-equal when only 24 of them were available. Listening to this piece, one can evaluate to what extent it is possible to precisely detune a clarinet by that amount, given that the tuning of the clarinet is not actually 12-equal.

Whenever composing for two instruments of similar timbre, my temptation to treat them like one single über-instrument is strong. Many passages in De-quinin’ are one- or two-part textures in which a contiguous line is formed by alternation between clarinets. The final section’s speedy hockets are tricky to do in live performance, and if done successfully will begin to sound like a third instrument, not clarinet at all.

The title for this piece came from a 20-consonant poem I composed:

zap!  be a vat of mayo,
ajar. whack!
de-quinin' ex-glass.

“De-quinin'” refers to the quine, in computer programming, a program which produces its own source code as an output.

The score to De-quinin’ looks like this. The audio to one clarinet part is available here.

“Stuck” for string quartet

A large bit of my self-description, for much of my composing life, involves being stuck.  So much so tht “Stuck” ended up the title of this work, in an effort to shake the ascription from myself once and for all.

The working title for this string quartet was “Rhythmic MOS Study”, which accurately describes at least the first section of it.  A nineteen-pulse rhythmic period decays one pulse at a time, in three different parts with three different generators. I began an explanation of this theory over there, and don’t know when I’ll finish it.

It was written for the Ensø Quartet, who read an early draft in a few different sessions, which I then stitched together for the only remotely representative recording of the work (file currently in archive)

Dear string quartets,

This piece wants you!

The score is available for download; parts are available on request.