Objector Snark / Blog

Xenharmonic Études for a Full Orchestra

This week I finished uploading a collection of pieces to the page that originated from a series of free-composition sessions I recorded in 2004 and 2005, while using microtonal remappings of a 61-key MIDI keyboard to compose through. The result is almost a full hour of densely layered, sonically challenging orchestral music that explores the expansive possibilities of a conventional symphonic arrangement performed in tonalities other than the Western 12-tone equal-temperament tuning system. The first track, titled "F*** d'Ouverture" was originally a study piece for classical guitar I wrote in 1992 to challenge myself to the limit of what my playing ability was at the time; I think I made it through the entire piece passably just once. :-/ However, I wrote out the work for that one on manuscript paper with earnest accuracy and it therefore became one of the first pieces from that era to be sequenced to MIDI and given a full score in 2004. If there is any xenharmonic retuning in this ten-part suite, it's probably from equal-temperament to just-intonation, as an experiment in sweetening the intervals of chordal harmony. In capturing a six-minute spontaneous composition, I began testing the mood differences of retuning a fully improvised work from one tuning to several different scales and modes, in a manner similar to Baroque inventions reiterated through different keys. Ultimately, it became the bulk of this album, five variations on a theme punctuated by a brief promenade, A Cycle of the Seasons ends in Spring (where it began), but in the ancient, overtone-based Olympos tonos to which the keyboard was tuned. The final suite, "Press Junket for the Occidental Tourist" combines the retuned-variation on an orchestra arrangement concept with bridge interludes performed on solo instruments also designed & handcrafted by Objector Snark.


As an erstwhile math/EE major, one of the things I like about RN is all the GRAPHS! Stuff that gives me a day-by-day metric of what's going on as a result of my activity puts the power of PR in my own little fist. What the playlist readouts tell me is that y'all like the "Interludes." Maybe because they're short—who has the time to listen to a deep track these days, amirite? That's what off-campus housing and a fresh bag of doobage are for. Or maybe, because I find a lot of fans of this page tend to skew a bit folkie and singer/songwriter, so a short, sweet bit of quaint string-pulling has its own appeal... Well guess what, folk(ie)s? I've got twenty-six (26) tracks of lute sessions! You've heard five so far, and of the twenty-one remaining, some tracks are extended pieces that in turn can be split up and developed into stand-alone works. They've been sitting in the vault for years, waiting to be given some new life and arrangement and that time is coming, now that I've been whipping my studio/rehearsal space into operating shape, getting a collection of various 'percussion and allsorts' assembled in such a way as to provide my historically-inspired pieces with a bit more medieval klang. Two volumes of existing interludes and new tracks to come are in the works for a series of albums called "The Handmade Tales," focusing on compositions and improvisations performed on my handmade instruments, which can be seen on my RN musician profile here: http://www.reverbnation.com/musician/objectorsnark?profile_view_source=profile_box&view=gear As I am also in the process of producing another Alien Pep Squad release, I will eventually be teasing out new "Interludes" to whet your interest here as well. Stay tuned!

A new post for the casual observer to see this joint's still hoppin'...

7/22/14: At some point after uploading all the more traditionally-composed symphonic pieces, I moved my genre from Classical to Experimental as I began adding works from my catalog that encompassed renaissance/early music styles as well as modern avant-garde explorations. Classical was never an appropriate fit, since that refers to a specific era (after Baroque and before Romantic) of symphonic work anyway. I've got a gamut from lute improvisations to chaotic noise collages, to xenharmonic work—and hell, if anything Classical is just about the only genre any of it *doesn't* really fit (even though Beethoven was my first fave composer, I just don't hear a lot of him come out in the mix). So, an "Experimental" composer I am, and that's OK for now because that *is* how I do what I do: I toy and tinker and chase unusual sounds and try to make it all fit together in some way that sounds right to me. It also means that I tend to discover other experimentalists here on the site with whom I share a similar affinity and fanbase. Discover, enjoy, and please add and share me on all your other pages!

Why do I have my music in the "Classical" genre?

Well...the genres available for classification here are rather limiting if what you do is all over the map. I know it might be technically accurate to call my compositions "jazz", but I think that might give a lot of potential listeners the wrong idea based on preconceived notions. I guess if you want to call it something people can hang an idea on, call it "program music" or "score". Because this is what it seems most suited for, I went ahead and got into video-making just so I'd have someplace visual to put it all.

"Classical" is hardly an adequate descriptor simply by virtue of it being a specific era of what is accurately called "formal music": the orchestral and symphonic works of past and present composers who score music for a multitude of instruments playing in concert. Classical is the era of orchestra music wedged right between Baroque and Romantic, with Mozart being the defining composer of the age. Uh, no...that is *not* my thing. I prefer composers further along in the line, on a meandering path from Debussy to Zappa, swerving by Brian Wilson and Charles Mingus to score a little something on the way to blaze up at Stravinsky's place.

Formal music encompasses all these genres, from Ancient or Early Music (music from antiquity to the Middle Ages), Renaissance music (to about 1600) all the way to Modern or Contemporary music of the present. I have some work that is reminiscent of pre-Baroque forms which borrow inspiration from the motet and the rondo, and most certainly the instrumentation of the Renaissance and medieval eras.

The greatest freedom offered a modern composer is the ability to be formal while breaking all the rules of form.