At times minimalist and pattern driven. At times warm and buzzy. Hardware-based electronic music.
Composer: Mike Olson
Implied Movement is an electronic music piece which I completed work on in February of 2015. It is included on the Six Projects album, which is available on Innova Recordings. The piece was created using a combination of vintage and contemporary analogue modular synthesizers and a vintage Minimoog D. All of the material was recorded into a computer, where the final composition was assembled using my fragment-based compositional process. The piece has as it’s primary organizational underpinning, a series of short repeating ostinatos, which are constantly evolving in one way or another. This is significant, as it is a bit of a departure for me. I tend to avoid loops like the plague. I don’t even like using repeat signs in my traditionally notated scores. I’ve done my share of copying and pasting within MIDI sequenced projects over the years, but even in that environment, I tend to try and play all the way through on each part most of the time. Not only does this encourage improvisational “comping”, but it also has the added benefit of infusing the individually performed parts with a lot of variation in (MIDI) velocity and pressure, which results in constant slight variations in volume and timbre. That’s what I’ve done a lot of in the past in my MIDIsequenced pieces, but the sequencing in this piece is accomplished using hardware-based sequencers. A different world entirely.
Using short repeating patterns that evolve, also lends itself quite naturally to minimalism, the influence of which is clearly evident in the piece. There are also some chance operations which crop up in the form of the application of random voltage. This is particularly evident near the beginning of the piece at about 0:45, when the first quick note are heard.
There is a lead synthesizer melodic part that makes an obvious entrance at about 3:30, which was created using the Minimoog, played through a Big Muff distortion box. The listener might also notice sustain-y, distorted electric guitar-like gestures in this piece, the first of which shows up at about 3:15. These were performed on my Moog Model 12 modular synthesizer using the Big Muff and a device called a Talk Box. The Talk Box is a small metal box with a speaker in it that sends the sound up a flexible plastic tube. The tube is placed in the mouth, which is in front of a microphone. The sound comes through the tube into the mouth, where it is shaped in realtime and picked up by the mic. I didn’t use this device to make the synth “talk”, but rather to shape and filter the sound with my mouth. Both the Big Muff and the Talk Box and traditional electric guitar effect boxes, which is why my Moog playing comes off as being at least evocative of the electric guitar.
The short repeating patterns were a lot of fun to work with, perhaps because I had so assiduously avoided their use in the past. The end result reminds me in places of 1970s vintage Tangerine Dream. Actually, the whole piece has a kind of “old-fashioned” feel about it. But then again, I’m no spring chicken. I really love the warm old buzzy analogue sound of this piece. Even though it makes use of strictly repeating machine like sequences being generated by electronic instruments, it still retains a human, and in my opinion, “musical” feel.