Australian-based (but USA-born) composer Warren Burt (1949), who moved to
Melbourne from San Diego in 1975,
followed LaMonte Young' lead in exploring drones
(often in multimedia settings, such as his video-opera Nighthawk of 1976
and Sound Garden of 1982).
However, he was also active in computer music, first designing two "composing
machines" ("Aardvarks IV" in 1975 and "Aardvarks VII" in 1978)
and then using them to create pieces such as the Piano Quintet (1983) for
piano and string quartet, Voices, Tuning Forks And Accordion (1986) and
String Quartet No 4 (1987).
His pieces toyed with random composition, juxtaposition of opposites, just intonation and environmental interaction, sometimes all at the same time.
Harmonic Colour Fields (Pogus, 2002) collected
a set of five computer pieces from 1996-97, lengthy slowly-evolving drones
that explore "static microtonal harmonic fields":
the 13-minute Portrait of Erv Wilson (whose pitches are based on
an ancient Greek arithmetic matrix, the "lambdoma") and
the ten-minute Portrait of John Chalmers (slightly more dissonant,
and based on a more complex mathematical process),
which are both very "ambient" in nature;
the 13-minute Adjacencies (A Drone on Breaking my Kneecap), a massive
slow-motion wave (obtained by playing with 11-tone, 13-tone and 17-tone equal
the 16-minute 11:21:23 (A Drone on Mom and Felix's Birthdays)
and the 15-minute 48=>53; 53=>48,
in slowly altering rather fastidious drilling tones, both obtained
by exploiting adjacent harmonies.
The Animation of Lists and the Archytan Transpositions (XI, 2006),
the four-part The Animation of Lists and the four-part The Archytan Transpositions (two pieces originally devised in 2002),
each based on the other one, sounds like a massive exercise in microtonal tuning.
He discovered a way to make electronic music without electronic instruments
by using his own invention, a set of acoustic tuning aluminum forks, tuned
to a 19-note just intonation scale inspired by Ptolemy's "Harmonics".
The pitches are sequenced by a mathematical process (they sound pretty much
random to a human ear) and are given the time necessary to resonate and fully
populate the listening space. Each one is a listening experience,
crisp, clear and colorful.
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