Entries tagged with “The Curve of the Earth”.

The Curve of the Earth electric score excerpts

A page has been added on the Hollow Earth Recordings website to archive all of the Curve of the Earth performances, media, text, reviews, the score and so on. Forthcoming performance information and such will still be posted here but this page will be the best resource for tracking all of the activities and related material which are already on multiple sites. While certainly in progress it has already been populated with information on the premier performance, a PDF of the score (Full instructions and the Observations but only excerpts of the electric score so far as I haven’t scanned the whole thing yet), all of the audio that has been generated so far and  a handy compendium of all of the posts on The Curve of the Earth and related scores. This page will be regularly updated as said events occur and will be the primary resource for tracking especially this initial performance of the score.  Recordings will be archived there as SoundCloud, which has been used so far, has a limit to the amount that can be uploaded there. Recordings will be initially uploaded there and as new ones are made will be replaced and the older ones made available for download from the archive.

Additionally an email newsletter for Hollow Earth Recordings news has been setup.  This will be extremely infrequent, but if interested send an email to news AT hollowearthrecordings DOT com with the subject line Subscribe. More info can be found on the Hollow Earth Recordings website.

The Curve of the Earth Prelude

With the first performance of the The Curve of the Earth scheduled for late October (much more on this later) the Network Instrument setup has been finalized with only minor adjustments in progress. With the current setup the first recording of the score has been made which I’ve uploaded to SoundCloud for all to check out.

The Curve of the Earth [Prelude/00:00:00-00:43:30]

from the score:

At the opening performance of the piece a prelude should be played. This can be an expression of the network at startup as it is brought into readiness by the performer for the beginning of the score. Alternatively there is hard line on the score that marks the beginning of the score but prior to that is some material that could be partially (or fully) obscured by the scroll handle or some device for holding it into place. An impression of this material can be used for this prelude. The Prelude should be specifically indicated in records or recordings of the score, which would include the duration but not a length. i.e:

The Curve of the Earth [Prelude / 00:00:00-00:43:30]

This recording is my first attempt at playing from the score and while done in my apartment approximates a live performance in that it is a single take from material which, while I created it, had yet to realize. As discussed in the initial post on the score, it is an overlay upon live electronics, a Network Instrument in specific, and thus is inherently unpredictable. I’d imagine that the more one plays the score, especially with a static or mostly static Network that increasing familiarity would lead to a certain degree of expertise.  For this first recording it is about as raw and risky as possible as, while the parameters of this particular network have been explored, its behavior and limits are certainly only partially understood.

The scan from the score above is the entirety of the portion of the score that can be used for the prelude with a bit of the actual beginning of the score to the right of the hard line. As the score is a scroll and ideally would have scroll handles (currently it does not) this bit of the score would be partially or perhaps completely obscured by the handle. The hard line was put on the score to indicate material which absolutely must not be obscured in any way. The markings prior to that aren’t really representative of the score (and some of them were brush preparations) but are usable within the rules of the score to realize the prelude.

Also I put up all the current scans from the electric score onto Flickr; check em out if interested.


As summer decays into autumn and the days spent out-of-doors to indoors ratio begins to shift, one’s thoughts turns ever toward ones projects left to hibernate over the summer. For me my primary project this year has been The Curve of the Earth, which I’d had just begun to really develop when various externalities put it on hold. But now I am fully back into it with the final parts of the score finished, its premier performance scheduled and the first recording made. There will be more on all of this in posts to come, but first some groundwork needs to be laid. The most essential notion that I haven’t discussed much (if at all) at this point is the concept of grey.

I outlined extensively in an earlier post my experiences and general opinions on field recording and related enterprises but there was one realization about a fundamental aspect of our sound environment that I didn’t really delve into in that post: that there is a constant aspect to nearly all field recordings which are the sounds of humanity; primarily traffic. This has of course been commented upon before but I’d like to generalize the notion.  First off it should be noted that yes if there are dominate sounds in ones field: rushing water from rivers, ocean swells, mechanical device, etc or if one is in a sonically pristine environment – increasingly rare these days – then there certainly are different aspects to the recording.  Likewise in processed or other less pure recordings.  But in the main there is a background wash made up of layers of traffic, punctuated by airplanes, other mechanical devices and the sound of general human activity. This I call the grey.

Grey is distinguished from white noise in that it basically is layers of white noise. Distant traffic at varying degrees of distance become a wash, but not as uniform as white noise, it is more like layers and layers of white noise, interfering with each other, starting and stopping, changing in density and basically chaotic a finer levels of detail. Beyond hearing the grey in field recordings, you also hear it in live recordings of pieces that work with notions of silence, especially those where silence is a primary component.  And this is the part that interests me – for all intents and purposes grey is silence.  Non-grey silence is as artificial as anything and only exists in artificial constructions.  There being no such thing as silence is of course one of the many points of Cage’s interest in silence and that notion is no new thing. But the relative uniformity of the “silence” as a medium I think is a notion that has not been so explored.

Following my realization that what we take for “silence” is actually this grey noise, I then came to notion that instead of simply being silent and letting whatever grey-ness exists in the listeners environment fill in, why not generate the grey oneself? Thus was born the Grey Sequence, the first project where I explored this notion. The Grey Sequence, of which I posted the first four pieces of earlier this year (with no explanation at the time), was a multimedia project where a photograph and a piece of music were placed into correspondence and any “release” of a piece had to include both.  The recorded sound for these pieces involved two separate instruments one acoustic, one electronic. One instrument would be setup to play on its own, but in a not entirely static way, while the other one would improvise with.  The instrument that wasn’t being played was providing the grey that would always be in the background and become the foreground during the “silences”.


Grey Ripples setup

This I think is an actual extension of silence beyond notions that Cage explored and along with Network Instrument theory had been the primary area of investigation I’ve been exploring. First with the Grey Sequence and later with a number of the Eleven Clouds pieces this has been a primary concern with my projects and has moved from the focus in the earlier project to a tool in the later pieces. It is an essential aspect of The Curve of the Earth, the very fabric upon which it is composed,  though I’ll defer to later posts to go into details about this.

The Curve of the Earth (excerpt) 1

The Curve of the Earth (excerpt)


The Curve of the Earth
An electric score for soloist performing on a networked instrument with optional observations

The Curve of the Earth, is the new project that I’ve alluded to in a few posts earlier this year. This piece is a union of three elements: An Electric Score, a Network Instrument configuration and six optional Observations.

Electric Scores

An Electric Score is a score meant to work in concert with a live electronics setup.  Live Electronic configurations are rather score-like in and of themselves, in that a particular setup has it’s own characteristic behavior which the performer interacts withs.  They tend to be self-activating to some degree and can operate independently (though often predictably) without much user input.  Electric Scores are thus designed to influence this user input but are far from the strict guidelines of a traditionally notated score in which symbols require a consistent reaction. Electric Scores are a metascore that is to say it is a set of rules used to generate scores. It has few prescriptions on what the scores should be as they depend on the associated live electronics setup but it does describe a set of parameters that insures that the generated scores are all still an Electric Score.

The Curve of the Earth is a graphic score constructed of brushed ink on a long scroll of rice paper.  The scroll is quite long -30 or 40 feet long. The ink is usually quite lightly brushed on and the folds, wrinkles and other imperfections in the paper are a vital part of the score.  The score is meant to influence the live electronic setup, so it is not that case that you are turning a knob, or moving a slider in reaction to any of these markings. They are there to influence how you are trying to guide the setup. How this is done is left to the performer, but it definitely behooves the performer to be pretty familiar with both their instrument and the section of the score they are to play.

A Network Instrument

The Network Instrument in questions


The Network Instrument

I’ve written about the Network Instrument quite a bit in these pages (primary articles here and here) so I won’t delve much into the theory. I used various network instrument configurations in the Eleven Clouds project and as I stated in the interview I took part in w/r/t that project, I learned a lot from that project about how I’d setup a network for extended performance. This network is the direct result of that experimentation and experience. There were several elements that I felt I wanted to add into the setup and since the conclusion of that project I’ve made a lot of progress in finding and integrated those components into my base configuration.  In general I tried to use existing items where I could adapt them as opposed to just acquiring new objects, as that way I was able to test my theories without accumulating more stuff.

Network Instrument detail

The Network Instrument detail


In this case here I’m using the Nord Micro-modular primarily for EQ which with the Doepfer controller I’m able to make a fairly fine grained adjustments to the overall sound. This has worked well enough that I could see adding a dedicated unit for this, thus freeing up the Micro-modular for other uses.  The Rat Shack Mixer I’m using more or less as a matrix mixer and I definitely would like to replace it with the real deal – it’d be a lot smaller for one and could easily add a few more patch points. The major addition to this setup is the Jomox T-Resonator – this device is almost like a physical manifestation of aspects of Network Instrument theory.  The unit combines filters, some simple effects, internal feedback and most importantly it can modulate between it’s two channels.  It has a nice degree of unpredictability to it and after months of experimenting with it, it has really added to this setup. This network is highly (though far from totally) connected and that has really added to the possibilities.

This network allows for a variety of adjustments both in patching, connections and interfaces which I can utilize for varying parts of the score. This is vital as the score, in its section about the electronics, specifies that the network should not be fixed, that it should evolve along with the score.

Each performance of the piece should have the network especially considered for it. Which isn’t to say it should be a new network for each performance but that the section of the score that is to be played should be considered in what is to be played. Likewise the previous portion should be considered and a small section of a recording of it could even be added as a sound source at the beginning of a new section.


Observation 3

Observation 3 (for percussion) (excerpt)


Optional Observations

There are six “observations”  that are separate one page scores that can be performed simultaneously with any portion of the score. In the course of a complete performance they can be performed any number of times in concert with the primary score. At any given time no more than two ‘observations’ can be made. Over the course of a complete performance the tendency should be for the bulk of the time to be without observations and of course none need be made.

Observations can be made from any sound source within the specified constraints, but a network instrument, If two of them are occurring simultaneously they should be different instruments.  The material on the pages should be interpreted as a Musical Pattern in that a duration for the page should be determined in advance (in collaboration with the Electric Score performer) and that the silences between material should be consistent within this time. The observations are printed on clear transparencies which should be overlaid onto the Electric Score (the same scroll that the primary performer is used, unrolled to where the observers are. If there is not enough score left to do this, then no observations can be made). The observations are interpretations of the intersection of the primary score and the material on the transparency. Material is not to be repeated.

Observation 1 – for a stringed instrument
Observation 2 – for any sound source
Observation 3 – for percussion
Observation 4 – for any sound source
Observation 5 – for bowed strings
Observation 6 – for percussion


The Curve of the Earth (excerpt) 5

The Curve of the Earth (excerpt)

Performance and Recordings

[The Curve of the Earth] should be performed sequentially, that is to say each performance takes up where the last one stops. Each performance should perform as much of the score as the allotted time allows but the overall pace should be sedate.  Each section should be then marked and dated with the performance.  Any recordings of any parts of the score should include the length and time of the score played. I.e.:

The Curve of the Earth [00’00”-05’30” / 00:00:00-01:09:47]

As the above excerpt from the instructions indicates, The Curve of the Earth, is meant to be played in its entirety as opposed to choosing a section to play. However it is not required to be performed in one single occaison, though of course if one could devote the time to it, one could.  It is meant to be played at a deliberate pace, to allow the network instrument to reveal itself.  For as I stated above, this score is a overlay on top of this network – the network is the score. And the network should shift and change as the score shifts and change. So really it is expected to be done in multiple performances, picking up where one has left off. It is hard to determine how long it would take to perform at this point, since it is unperformed and of course this will vary by performer. In the end I don’t think it is important, except that it is meant to be played at a rather sedate pace. It should live.

From the perspective of a listener perhaps the details of these elements aren’t important and there is also a risk of the music, once finally experienced, not really living up to any sort of lofty claims.  But as I stated from the outset I want to more or less document the entire process of this project, to lay out what it is that is trying to be done.  This post describes the score and some of the process; look for further posts that describe more of the ideas and concepts behind it.  Ideally also performances should begin at some point, but life events may put those off for some time.  A performance of this piece is pretty liberally defined and recording in ones living room qualifies. So perhaps I’ll try to get a recording of the first few inches made before I have to pack everything away for a forthcoming move – keep an eye out for that to be posted here. But ideally in the future the bulk of the piece will be performed live. Hopefully more on that later.