Posted by Nick Norton on Tue, 7 May 2013
And did it on such short notice that I didn't get around to updating the blog! Here's the cover art:
Here's the piece:
And here's what it says on the Bandcamp page (which is all true):
A realization of a piece for an infinite number of guitarists, playing an infinite number of guitars, recorded in an infinite number of places, and played back through an infinite number of speakers in an infinite number of combinations.
In this case, we used six guitarists, in six countries, through eight speakers, with some bells. We put each recording through three different reverberant spaces at Bedrock Studios in LA, we did some cool randomization stuff, then we mixed it down to two channels so that you can listen to it at home, where you might not have an octaphonic speaker setup.
The piece is meant to lend an atmosphere to a space, rather than to be actively listened to. I recommend putting it on and doing something relaxing, in a place with mellow lighting. You can put on multiple copies of it as well, starting at different times. When we premiered it at Mills College, with video by David Gordon, we let it run as guests entered the concert hall, talked with each other, and took their seats. And it felt great. A bunch of high-quality stills from the video are included with your download. So is a PDF of the score that each guitarist played from.
Fabricio Mattos tracked down the guitarists. I'm indebted to both him and David for helping make this possible.
If you're interested in presenting it as a sound installation, please drop me a line.
Finally, here's the video we made for the installation:
Posted by Nick Norton on Wed, 15 May 2013
Posted by Nick Norton on Tue, 7 May 2013
But dudes, I just got an Empress Multidrive, and it sounds AMAZING.
Posted by Nick Norton on Fri, 12 Apr 2013
I spend a lot of time composing, and a lot of time playing, and practicing, and listening to music, and reading, and doing "career-focused" stuff like applying to festivals, booking, PR stuff, responding to email, you know. When it's time for a break, I tend to go with hanging with friends, TV (new seasons of both Game of Thrones and Mad Men start Sunday, guess I'll be taking more breaks), beer, exercise of some sort, more reading, video games, or, most importantly for our purposes today, screwing around on the internet. A few favorite websites for the aforementioned screwing around online are Geekologie, Happy Place, and Wired's various blogs. I mention all of this because last night, before bed, on Geekologie, I came across what may be the epitome of the internet:
I have no idea why I find this so entertaining. I've watched it like five times. Makes me wonder about all this "high art" stuff we spend so much time on in music school, when this (very seriously) causes me to have such an immediate, visceral reaction. And this led me to ask myself, "what's my process for determining whether or not I like/love/think-something-is-great for a piece of music/art/entertainment/etc?"
I think I've come up with a pretty simple answer. I'm using music here, but the process is similar for other art forms. Here we go:
1. First listen. Only one thing matters to me here: did I have a positive reaction? Did I enjoy it or not? If it's a no, then we're done, unless a lot of people I trust really seem to think it's worthwhile, in which case, I'll try a few more times. But each time, I still think of it as a first listen, looking for that spark of "is there something here that I enjoy?" "Enjoy" doesn't necessarily mean "makes me happy," mind you. It's more like, "did it make me happy, sad, teach me something, excite me, affect me, etc." If it gets a yes, we move on to the next step.
2. Mid-stage listens.These are the second through maybe twelfth listens, depending on the piece. I'm learning my way through it, remembering when things happen, anticipating them and being emotionally rewarded when they hit, digging into it analytically a bit, all that good stuff. It's kind of a honeymoon phase. It's a good thing if a piece makes it to here for me. If it does, and I'm still enjoying it after doing this for a while, it obtains...
3. Current favorite status. A song, or album, is all I want to hear. I'll play it multiple times a day, and get all jazzed every time. This doesn't happen often. When it does, I tell my friends they should listen to it too. Until, eventually, one of two things happens.
4.a. Something gradually replaces it. This is a good thing, because the song enters a sort of pantheon of favorites that I'm happy to hear whenever they pop back up, that I can always talk about and turn to, like seeing an old friend who has just been doing something else for a while, and you can pick up right where you left off.
or, 4.b. I get tired of it. In which case, I'll basically drop it cold, because I don't feel much when I listen to it anymore. These songs were summer romances - great while they lasted, but they're not sticking around. When they pop up in the future in a friend's car or when I put a playlist on shuffle or something, I'm happy to think about them, and sometimes even get a few of the old vibes back, but they're memoires of an earlier time in my life, or something meaningful sounding like that.
I guess 4.a. is really the goal of all of my listening, and I will listen to absolutely anything, just in case I hit one that'll get there. There's no harm in hearing something at step 1, and sometimes I learn from trying to figure out what I don't like about something in that step. If something gets to the middle of step 2, that can be pretty cool, and I'll learn something either way.
Honestly, this is all true, but this was mostly a justification for posting that video. How great is it? Come see my band at Good Hurt in LA tonight at 8, and come see my friend's band do music based on live table tennis tomorrow and Sunday at REDCAT.
Posted by Nick Norton on Fri, 29 Mar 2013
Posted by Nick Norton on Mon, 25 Feb 2013
I've been meeting with Clarence Barlow a lot lately, a composer who is well known for his algorithmically composed music. It's something I was very interested in as an undergraduate, but haven't pursued much since then. Now that I'm getting to know Clarence, I think it's something I may take up again.
Essentially, you write a set of rules, and then get to find out what music those rules generate. For instance, if you wrote the rule "the note C will occur on the first beat of every measure," when you execute the algorithm you'll get the note C on the first beat of every measure. This isn't exactly an oversimplification, but it's possible to get way, way more complicated. This may seem very dry, but for me, the joy of it is in hearing things that you never would have come up with otherwise.
As such, I've taken a preliminary crack at it by applying the lines of Pascal's triangles, from modulos zero to five, to rhythm. It was a pretty simple thought, but some of the rhythms that came out of it are things I definitely would not have come up with, and sound pretty cool. It'd be a lie to say that this wasn't partially inspired by the work of Tom Johnson, who I was lucky to meet and get to spend some time with this week.
Click here to check out the score. Drop me a line if you want to try playing it, I'd love to hear what you do with it.
Posted by Nick Norton on Thu, 14 Feb 2013
You guys watch the Superbowl on Sunday? I thought SF was actually going to make that comeback work for a while. I bring this up because I watched the game with my friends Federico Llach and Amanda Kritzberg of the Now Hear Ensemble, and they've officially commissioned a new piece from me for their fall 2013 tour. It's going to be for clarinet, bass, and percussion, with possible electronics, and be pretty groovy. Neat!
Amanda came by over the weekend to see what happens when you plug a clarinet into my guitar setup. It sounded pretty sweet. Here's a photo:
Before I start on that commission, however, I'm blazing through a piece for piano, strings, percussion, and potential winds (depending on if they're necessary to get the point across). There's really a lot going on right now though. I may have found a new collaborator to present At Glass Beach, my sound installation formerly titled On The Beach, sometime in the next couple of months - in which case, there would be new album art. In which case, the record would come out somewhat later than planned. March? April? Who can predict these things?
In more immediate news, the premiere of Standing alone in a frozen desert is this Friday at Beyond Baroque in Venice, CA, at 8 PM. Here's the score. I'm really excited for this piece, and for the opportunity to have written something for the opening night of Daniel Gall's Lines in the Sand exhibition. Ben Phelps has a piece on the program too. It's going to be a wild night, so please do come on out. We can go to the Daily Pint or Wurstkuche afterward too.
There are actually a whole bunch of concerts coming up. Better Looking People With Superior Ideas have four booked at the moment, and are working on putting together quite a few more. New Century Voices premiered Reflection last night to a pretty full house at UCSB. Things feel like they're going well, but I feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount of work at the moment. That may be why this entry seems relatively scatterbrained, as these things go. Oh well.
Okay, time to relax and mess around with beats in Ableton/catch up on Downton Abbey. See you Friday!
Posted by Nick Norton on Tue, 5 Feb 2013
May 22 - Better Looking People With Superior Ideas and I play at the Silverlake Lounge in LA.
Click here to view the complete concert listing.
Nick Norton is a composer and guitarist from Southern California. more ...