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Saturday, March 6

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Concert Wed Oct 13 2010

Tristan Perich's Binary Swarm

Imagine, if you will, a grand piano playing a minor third, with the dampers released. Listen in your head to that thick, cloudy haze of tones. It may be just three notes, but zoom in with the microscope, and you'll hear thousands -- maybe millions -- of microtonal variants on those three notes within the cloud of sound, each deepening the emotion and atmosphere of that big, pompous chord. You'd have to have superhuman hearing to listen to each as a separate note variant, but they are all there, and you are hearing them all.

Cut to your nearest gallery displaying Tristan Perich's "Interval Studies" exhibit. A wall, covered with hundreds of tiny speakers, each attached to its own 1-bit tone generator. No subtlety to each speaker, just one mono tone, pure binary -- you're either on of you're off. Now, adjust each tone a micro-click from the other, and you can start to simulate the cloudy density of a piano keyboard, or a flute, or any other musical instrument. It's like a paint-by-number of a chord -- all the pieces are the same, but the blending comes only at a distance. Stand too close, and you see it for what it is, a herd of binary tones coexisting.

Interval Study.jpg

Tristan Perich is working the outer edges of 1-bit technology. His "1-Bit Symphony" album is packaged in a jewel case, but it doesn't play in your CD player. It's an actual 1-bit circuit programmed by Perich and equipped with an external mic jack -- you plug your headphones into the jewel case, and the composition plays through until you turn it off or the battery runs out.

Tristan Perich: 1-Bit Symphony (Part 1: Overview) from Tristan Perich on Vimeo.

Listening to the abundant sound samples on the artist's page, two separate new music traditions are orbiting around each other, exerting their gravity on the pieces: Philip Glass's quickly arpeggiated chord shifts, tempered by Morton Feldman's intuition with intermingling of instrumental tone qualities. Perich's 1-bit electronic accompaniments are paired with toy pianos, flutes, strings, crotales (small, tuned cymbals), and contrabass saxophones. The instrumental qualities soften and blur the electronic/acoustic textures into shimmering, microtonally rich compositions, simultaneously lo-tech and sumptuous.

Tristan Perich performs "1-Bit Symphony" this Saturday (October 16) as the start of Lampo's Fall 2010 season. The performance takes place at the Graham Foundation's Madlener House (4 W. Burton Pl., Chicago) at 8 p.m. Tickets are free and RSVP is required, and though the event is currently full, it is possible to sign up for the waitlist here.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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