branches 

The project

Branches is a project that starts in January 2020 and will go through an unlimited number of variations during the year and perhaps even longer. The project hinges on three main concepts:
concrete poetry
  • the basic structure of ‘branches’, and the direct inspiration for that structure is a concrete poetry project written by Carl André during the 1960s;
  • the basic material of ‘branches’ is a recording of my voice;
musical development and distribution following the principles of software delvelopment
  • the music develops ‘in public’;
  • listeners are presented with updates and upgrades like we know from software companies;
  • there is not a finished product but something that evolves;
investigation into the consumption of limited availability in an age of online abundance
  • I want to investigate temporality/limited availability of online music;
  • I will document the project (here) to give context to the music

I will publish musical works of various lengths, that are not following each other like a track list but each version builds upon the previous one. In a way, this follows the strategy of software development. Software is developed in various stages, tested and published. Once it is in the open, the development continues in the background and on a regular or irregular basis updates (small improvements) or upgrades (functional improvements) are presented for clients to download and install. Sometimes the development branches out and versions run in parallel but each with their own logic.

The source

The sounds of this project, the elements with which all music is built up, is my voice. In 2018 I discovered concrete poetry, an art form that was popular in the 1950s-1970s. To me personally I was most taken by the works of Carl André. André actually had a career as a sculptor, but some day he got in a rut until he found a typewriter and started working with words and letters. His poetry strongly resembles his 3 dimensional artworks. It’s built with simple elements that together make up a form: a square or a cube. 

André’s material usually is quite basic. He uses waste from industrial production and likes to keep things as they are. In his poetry, too, his material is quite simple. Blocks of text, letters actually, that together form rectangular shapes.
 
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    The start

    When I try to translate André’s work into sound I decide to use the simplest of material: my own voice. No extra’s, no frills. I have been thinking about using a computer voice. That way the origin would be spoken without ever been spoken by a person. I would be a completely unpersonal affair. But why would it need to be unpersonal. It ís personal. Looking for text I choose to recite eight numbers: 1 to 8. This is my basic material. Just like André only uses few basic materials and place them next to each other, creating patterns.

    Version 0.0 → January 20, 2020

    Version 0.0 represents the core of all future developments. It’s a rather random list of my recitations, sliced and repeated through a modular synth with the Qu-Bit Nebulae2 as main character.
    2020/1/26
    An interesting alternative to the limited availability concept I found at the Industrial Coast page on bandcamp. Cassettes are available at 8.50 GBP but downloads cost as much as 100 GBP. One is still able to stream, though.
    2020/1/29
    Naturally I have many different versions of tracks that I am producing. I am constantly toying with sounds, editing out and including stuff. Today I published a subscriber-only service where I upload nightly builds to Bandcamp. 

    2020/1/30
    New nightly release published. New features:
    • more and more complicated rhythmic blocks added
    • experiments with heavy filtering in order to create depth and variation

    Version 0.1 → February 2, 2020 - February 15, 2020

    Version 0.1 has gone public today. It is the first public version of the 0.x series to be presented in the structural form it will keep for the rest of the year. The listener should regard the text blocks like those constructed by André. They will mutate into different forms, which will be published as series 1.x, 2.x, etcetera. The 0.x series keeps its strict block form but will have variations in timbre, sonic color, etcetera.

    You can see how I am developing the 0.x series when you look at the nightly builds. Those are primarily versions where I keep investigating the potential. I have dozens of alternatives in my catalogue. Some work, most don’t.