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Kwik Picks 05

Some Recent Additions to

Dennis Báthory-Kitsz | Jay C. Batzner | Arno Camel | Steve Heimbecker |


Contextless pieces

For many of the pieces listened to for this round of “Kwik Picks” no program notes were included in the submission, therefore the pieces were listened to and often simply described. On most email lists the pros and cons of providing or not providing program notes to accompany a work is discussed periodically, recurrently. The “not providing” side of the debate can be summed up as “Let the music speak for itself!” or “It’s all about the music, man.” (1)

Well, ok, but maybe I don’t really have the time (or interest) to try to decipher things that the composer could have simply taken the effort to explain. Or is this my voyage of discovery? My obligation as a listener? With 2,000,000 pieces available on the web, what is going to lead me to listen, even momentarily, to this piece rather than that?

Composers / sound artists who won’t make the effort to communicate a little bit of information to me, in general, do not interest me. They could even have someone else write their program note; life is about context. In a world where there are ten hours of new sounds available for every one minute I have to listen, I try to maximize my 600:1 ratio of hearing something that will engage.

While preparing these “Kwik Picks” I also visited a number of “free download” sites from a variety of audio artists. Some sites had 20 tracks, some had many more. Most of these tracks were of the two to five minute variety. On average, I listened to about six to eight seconds of any track, and this was most often in four or five one-second excerpts. The sounds, gestures and “objectives” are well-known to me as I listen to many many hundreds of tracks per year, and actively engage in discussions about them with dozens of people. (2)

Much of the work on these sites is ‘basic’: someone has discovered a noise and a plug-in, and that seems to be where its stops. While this is not true of most of the pieces found on Sonus, I must admit however that if I am browsing and no information on the composer or piece is offered, they will likely get about ten seconds to make their case.

If the composer has taken the time and interest to inform me, I’m much more likely to try to figure out what’s going on. And I will be more successful in doing so than with works by composers who prefer to “let the music speak” to me about their work.

That said… onwards…

The Pieces

Dennis Báthory-Kitsz

chartrelian (2006) — 1:22

Keywords: linear collage; sonic object

Various sounds, processed and placed in a linear collage.

Memento Mori, for Noah Creshevsky (2005) — 7:36

Keywords: linear collage, sonic object, semi-narrative

Voices, singing / chanting, variously processed, fragmented, reconstructed, layered. Patterns and repetitions emerge and blend.

nysuca hanei (2005) — 1:12

Keywords: linear collage, exploration of the object

Metalic rubbings and scrapings, fragmented, collaged, layered, with reverb.

Manifold Warblers (2004) — 12:59

Keywords: sectional, linear exploration of the object

Layering and slow evolution of similar, waterlike sounds such that they sort of warble. Layered, textured and gestured, much behind a veil of reverb. Stretched and resonated water drops, and drops become drums in the middle section. The individual layers sound algorithmic in nature. Further sections explore other processing opportunities.

iskajtbrz (2003) — 5:58

Keywords: sectional, linear exploration of the object

Exploration of a kind of rolling sound, processed and layered, possibly done with algorithmic processes producing semi-patterned textures in the middle, leading to a more patterned rhythmicized ending.

i cried in the sun aïda (1973) — 5:46

Keywords: vocal collage, text-sound composition

Layered voice work, some extended vocal techniques, minimal processing, sounding very much like its age in conception and technical realization.

Syrenical (2005) — 7:01

Keywords: textural composition

Strings stretched and resonated, possibly by algorithmic means. Textures of rising spirals.

Glossolalia 22 (2003) — 5:34

Keywords: textural composition

Text / voices processed and layered into a varying texture.

Snare:Wilding (2000) — 2:44

Keywords: collage, layered

Voice(s), drum(s), solo voice(s) in relatively distinct layers, slowly collaged into a diverse, continuous texture. On occasion brought together, but then allowed to separate and die out.

Spammung (2003) — 12:47

Keywords: text-sound composition, collage

Layered (processed) text and voice, with implications of a non-linear narrative. Text slowly emerges into a kind of mixed stream of consciousness of words, to be swallowed by other layers. Text re-emerges to give way to vocalized sounds.

bellyloops (1999) — 4:14

Keywords: layered collage, with beat

Layered over a dominating repeating bass figure, a linear collage of barely changing texture.

FreeSimple (2000) — 7:13

Keywords: layered collage

Irregular bass rhythm, processed voice-like overlay, kind of a keening wail, but possibly an oscillator with lots of reverb. Constant, with slow fade out on melodic line.

sweeh (1996) — 1:17

Keywords: layered collage, textured

Layered, semi onomatopoeic sound, voice derived and processed.

quânh (1996) — 1:18

Keywords: layered collage, textured

Stretched, resonated, slightly varying texture.

zéyu (1996) — 1:18

Keywords: looped, texture

The effect of looping very short vocal samples, creating a texture.

Hypertunes, Baby (2004) — 12:31

Keywords: text-based, stream of conscious collage, text-sound composition, quasi-narrative

Textual declamation with fragmented accompaniment.

exirxion (1996) — 14:25

Keywords: MIDIfication, layering, multi-sectional

Sequencer / MIDI-based layering of synthesizer instrument / patches; high, zing, quiet, sustained second section; quiet third section followed by slow accretion of materials for some growth, and growth with percussion, to return to sustained high frequencies and to die away.

krikisque (2004) — 1:12

Keywords: short texture study

Short texture study.

Construction ‘on nix rest? in china’ (1972) — 12:09

Keywords: layered collage with trombone

‘Solo’ trombone collaged over random quiet layers, playing solos, duets and trios with itself. Possibly the documentation of layered improvisations.

Glossolalia 18 (2003) — 3:51

Keywords: texture

A study in a single sonic texture — time-stretched highly resonated voices articulating resonant modes.

No Money (Lullaby for Bill) (1999) — 5:28

Keywords: layered, semi-collage, loops

Reminiscent of some early computer music semi-diatonic stochastic walks, looped, overlaid with looped spoken commentaries about  money.

RatGeyser (2000) — 7:51

Keywords: layered, MIDIed

Looped semi-diatonic patterned walks, reminiscent of some early computer music. Bits of MIDI melodies & sonic dustings, slightly DX-7-ish at moments. Possibly done via algorithmic processes.

For the invisible (1994) — 0:29

Keywords: cute, short, stomach-gurgling collage

A cute, short, stomach-gurgling collage.

Jay C. Batzner

Near Burning (2005) — 8:00

Keywords: soft soundscape collage

A visit to a number of sounds of the urban environment with varying degrees of processing and recognizability.

Arno Camel

The Worst Sounds In the World (2007) — 11:51

Keywords: collage; sonic object

Linear sequence of individual sounds, slowly layered — spit hocking, ragged solo violin, grunts, barfing, heaving, scratches, mildly processed, more processed, slightly layered, more layered; the sounds’ durational is gestural. The sounds are objects. Upchucking festival, gradually more processed (standard plug-ins). Then strings. Not overly strong on detail.

Carillonneurs (2007) — 27:38

Keywords: linear collage; sonic object

Linear sequence of individual sounds, slowly layered: metal-like, quasi-bell-like, processed in varying degrees, and layered. Gesture defines duration defines gesture. The sounds with their natural gestural durations are the objects. Processed aspects start to cloud / highlight the materials. High production standards, and hints of church bells. Not overly strong on detail — the size of the element is the gesture.

Fun With AL And Crusher (2006) — 3:05

Keywords: linear collage; sonic object

Rushing sounds on scraped metal; linear sequence of individual sounds, layered, possibly collaged from exploration of a piece of sheet metal, recorded & processed (standard plug-ins).

Flibbertigibbet (2006) — 1:33

Keywords: linear collage; sonic object, reverb

Wood, metal plastics processed at the bottom of a well, a linear sequence of individual sounds, most processed to some degree.

Steve Heimbecker

Songs of Place: Vienna (2005) — 4:45
Songs of Place: Vancouver (2004) — 4:10
Songs of Place: Springwater (2004) — 6:00
Songs of Place: Île de Montréal (2004) — 5:07
Songs of Place: Halifax (2004) — 4:38

Keywords: soundscape, processed

An odd panning quality seems to have appeared in some of the recordings, possibly related to the mixdown from four channels.

Kevin Austin
Montréal, 2006–IV–09


  1. Response given by one festival organizer to a composer when asked what to do about program notes and biographical information.
  2. [Ed.] Kevin Austin is the administrator of the international list for electroacoustics, <cec-conference>, and is an active member on this and several other lists. In 1970 he founded the electroacoustic studios at Concordia University (Montréal), and continues to teach there.

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