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Empty Asphalt Junctions

Music work for chamber ensemble, sine tones, electronics, and high volume close-up amplification

8 minutes

First played by ICE, International Contemporary Ensemble, in 2017
EMPTY ASPHALT JUNCTIONS is reminiscent of digital sampling music, and yet transfers it to a contemporary music ensemble consisting of classically-trained instrumentalists. “Samples,” which here appear as  precisely defined by length, inner rhythm, timbre, and dynamics (and to a lesser extent by pitch since they get transposed over and over), act as the building material of this music, akin to digital sampling music practices. Close-up amplification of all instruments emphasizes the digitality of the particular sound world, rendering tiny noises much louder than conventionally played notes. Digital sine tones mix in with instrumental textures, and the outcome is dynamically spatialized in an experimental loudspeaker arrangement, yet again referring to the technology that acted as the work’s inspiration. My interest here is the tension that emerges between the human playing and the digital aesthetic. Both the human who is necessarily struggling to achieve machine precision, and the digital algorithm — which is embodied by the musicians on stage — open up an atmospheric space in-between the digital and the organic.