When building this piece for the show, I decided to take a slightly different direction, using minimally edited samples taken of the trains that pass by Union Station. While I enjoy sound walk compositions, or compositions that recreate a location sonically, I decided to add a couple of beat driven sections to the piece. We have had a lot of repertoire the past couple years where the electronics part is mostly ambient, or melody driven. I built up two different beats that are all derived from noises at Union Station, with some added kick drum punches and cymbal crashes. This piece is lighthearted and is really fun with Mnemosyne playing over it.
Hello everyone! I’ve been tasked with writing you a blog post about how I made the music for Transient Harmony.
I think it was Ted who came up with the name of the proposed show for our Art in the Loop performance and I liked it so I used it as a jumping off point for how I would make the electronic part of the piece.
In formal terms my piece is a binary AB form with the use of common voices to give thematic unity. I started by creating 12 organ drones, one for each chromatic pitch, and arranging them in a tone row that allows for a rough consonance:dissonance:consonance pattern to emerge harmonically. The entrance of each drone is staggered by 53 seconds. I tend to like prime numbers which is why I went with that seemingly arbitrary choice.
These drones are not static. I built many EQ automations into each of them, to give the listener the impression that even though nothing much is happening sometimes they still have forward momentum. I also inserted several voices which give rhythmic structure to the time passing, which is what helps us as improvisers all come to an agreement about things like tempo.
After roughing out this section, which shakes out to about 12 minutes I knew I needed more. One of our operating principles as an ensemble is making sonic environments that transport the listener to another place. So I went on a field trip and recorded a trek on the Kansas City bus line and then the streetcar itself. All of these recordings I then combed through and found excerpts I liked which I then digitally manipulated and placed in with my drones. Some of my sounds, like the bus ride turned into wonderfully useful sounds. By stretching the length of my sounds I was able to take the transmission of the bus as it gears up and down through acceleration and deceleration and transform it into a wonderfully spacious vista that, even though you can hear movement in time, feels vast and expansive to the listener.
One of the samples that gets highlighted continuously through the entire 20 minute piece is the streetcar conductor calling out ‘all aboard!”. It goes through several transformations that give anchors to the listener, familiar points in the ocean of sounds that give solidity to what they hear.
Of course this music will be playing outside and combining with all of the natural sounds of downtown Kansas City. I look forward to all of the unplanned synchronicities that might happen when we actually perform on September 2. As of this writing I am currently working out written parts for my fellow horn players, Michael and Ted, to play at specific points in the piece. I will notate these with traditional notation as well as the graphic notations we have developed as a group these past 2 years. I’m looking forward to seeing you all there on September 2, if only in passing. I hope you’ll linger just a moment longer than you normally would, you might find the time highly rewarding.
Check out the preview of Russell's piece, "Transient Harmony"
Mnemosyne Quartet will present a concert of pieces influenced by the intersection of music and text, including a reading of Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" at Prospero's Books. The performance will be on June 11th at 8:00pm.
Tickets will be $5 at the door.
Below is some of how we will be reading "On the Road". We will be using some of Kerouac's ideas of diverging, and how the character travels to construct how we read the piece.
Stay tuned for a sample of this upcoming new piece!
On February 13th, we performed at Johnson County Library's Second Saturday event, in the atrium of the Central Resource Branch.
We transformed the usually quiet library into a jungle, a forrest of birds, and story time. We got to pick out some awesome books for a new piece designed for the space. Ambient music set the tone for readings of the books.
Press: "Part ambient jazz experiment, part epic soundscape, part auditory hallucination, Kansas City's Mnemosyne Quartet seeks to let music occur out of the natural sonic environment we find ourselves in during the day to day course of our lives."
Anomalous City was Mnemosyne Quartet’s idea a two hour long show of new music in an expansive space. Our initial idea was to create a continuous two hour performance that took multiple environments and superimposed them onto a city landscape. We also wanted to map those sounds throughout the park.
The a result of creating a three-dimensional space was that it ended up interacting with the city itself. The music could be faintly heard on the streets below, adding to the natural environment. The sounds not indigenous to the city, like animals from the zoo, were merged with city life. Likewise, we could hear the sounds of the city on the rooftop. Police sirens, flocks of birds and the cicadas hiding in the grass influenced what we played, and how the listeners perceived their environment. We used birdsong, cars, trains, and heavy machinery in our pieces, but it was great that those sounds came from the streets below us too. With this event, we were able to achieve a fully immersive performance.
Date & LocationThis performance took place on Tuesday, August 25 at 7 p.m. at Prairie Logic (the 6th floor greenspace on the parking garage, just north of Cosentino’s Downtown Market).
For Anomalous City we have endeavored to create a multi layered sonic environment which the audience will travel through at their leisure. If you come to the Anomalous City performance this Tuesday you will be treated to over an hour and a half of other previously composed music that we have stitched together into a seamless whole. There will be peaks and valleys of activity and density, with the overall aim of bringing the audience on a journey through unfamiliar sonic territories and back again. Two of the highlights of the evening will be Our Trip to The Kansas City Zoo as well as the reimagining of Analog Drift.
Since our premiere performance of this evening was delayed due to inclement weather we changed our way of thinking about what we could accomplish with what we had planned. The performance at White Hall served to be a test laboratory for our ideas about separate spaces and time unfolding as a seamless whole. Because we couldn’t ask the audience to be in motion for our performance we instead used White Hall as a test for whether or not the recorded environment was sufficient by itself or if we needed to add movement into the sonic field. The outcome of our experiment was that yes indeed we do need to build front to back and left to right movement of the pre-recorded sounds to our piece when we perform at Prairie Logic this coming August 25th.
Our original idea was to take a walk through the Kansas City Zoo and record all of the locations and animals encountered along the way. During our first trip two of us (Michael and Ted) were tasked with taking location recordings of different animals in their habitats, while a third (Russell) was tasked with recording the whole time as he walked from one animal to the next. Eli then took these source recordings and performed her Eli-tronic manipulations to arrive at the ultimate form of the piece. In our proposal we wanted to bring anomalous sounds into the listening environment, sounds that didn’t fit what the audience thought they were supposed to be hearing.
By bringing the sounds of wild animals (which aren’t native to the prairie) into the prairie we are creating a palimpsest of different locations in both time and space for our audience to discover.
For our performance the audience will be encouraged to move about the Prairie Logic space of their own accord, adding their own third layer of time and space to the environment we have already constructed. In addition to the audience being able to choose their own path, Africa and Australia will trade places over the course of the performance, eventually swapping locations entirely through the cunning use of panning and stereo manipulation. Think of it like this, Africa will start hard left in panning and eventually migrate to hard right by the end of the piece, while Australia completes it’s course in vice versa, right to left.
In Mnemosyne we are always thinking about the possibilities for letting music occur out of the natural sonic environment we find ourselves in during the day to day course of our lives.
-- written by Russell Thorpe
Here’s our most recent Press Release:
The Mnemosyne Quartet and Zach Shemon present Anomalous City. This project plays on the observers’ perceptions and their ability to cope with unforeseen environments within their own set of expectations. Anomalous City will transport the sounds of the natural environment into the urban landscape of Prairie Logic, as well as exaggerate sounds already present in the park. The introduced environments will range from remote landscapes–such as the African jungle or Australian Outback –to an augmented reality of the urban landscape, and then to a future where an artificially intelligent being becomes active, adding to the sound of the digitally driven modulated environment, engaging the observers’ imaginations with it’s foreign and unique sound. Anomalous City will feature music composed by members of Mnemosyne Quartet as well as Dr. Mara Gibson.
Read More: www.downtownkc.org/portfolio-item/mnemosyne-quartet-and-zach-shemon-june-16th-prairie-logic/
We have had a lot of fun getting ready for our gig on the 16th of June. Recently we went to the Kansas City Zoo to record animals, and attractions. We took many photos while on this trip, and have uploaded them to our facebook page. Check them out!
We surprised guests, as we rode up and down the elevators as they were arriving for the Charlotte Street Open Studios night. We setup in the lobby of the 6th floor, where the studios were, and started riding the elevators as guests arrived. Below are photos and a few snipits of playing!
We had a lot of fun performing at the Kemper Museum on May 15th!
We are in the process of editing the audio for that event. We will post when it's up on our soundcloud!
Here's a snippit from the Kemper Museum about the event.