Jörg Hiller (Konrad Sprenger) is an artist, musician, composer, dj, and music producer who has been Dreyblatt's most important collaborator in recent years - including many performances and recording projects as well as the production of his current Ensemble (in which he is the percussionist). Has also been involved in editing and mixing recordings of Dreyblatt's music, including The Adding Machine, Cantaloupe, 2001, Resonant Relations, Cantaloupe, 2005 and Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933, Tzadik, 2010. In 2013 the retrospective LP entitled "Choice" was issued on Hiller's own "Choose" label in Berlin.
Commissions and collaborations with the New York-based organization Bang On A Can has spanned from 1995 to the present; involving commissioned works, performances and two CD productions.
Premiere, Lincoln Center, 1995 and subsequently part of the touring reperatoire of the Bang On A Can All-Stars where it was performed among other venues at the Darmstadt Festival in 1996.
Escalator had its beginnings in a duet performance piece with percussionist Pierre Berthet in Belgium in 1988, and it has been performed in various transformations by The Orchestra of Excited Strings over the years. In 1986-87 I began working on a "digital dynamic processing system" for a commission at "Ars Electronica" in Linz in 1987 and further developed this in a residency at STEIM in Amsterdam in 1989. This system was triggered with recorded machine tracks and interacts with acoustic instruments. Its basis are recordings of the rhythms produced by a number of malfunctioning escalators on the Blvd. Ansbach in Brussels which I made in 1987. In this version of Escalator, composed in 1995, I notated repetitive rhythmic patterns found in these recordings and scored them for cimbalom, prepared electric guitar and cello, later adding layers of percussion, saxophone and prepared "excited strings" bass in collaboration with the musicians. Escalator performed by The Orchestra of Excited Strings as well as the Bang On A Can Allstars. A CD of "Escalator", recorded by the Bang On A Can Allstars, was released in 2000 on their CD,"Renegade Heaven", Cantaloupe Records.
With the assistance of Evan Ziporyn, Dreyblatt formed a new ensemble with Bang On A Can musicians Robert Black, Marc Stewart and Evan Ziporyn together with students in the music department at MIT. The ensemble performed at Tonic, MIT, and at the Bang On A Can Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. A CD of this ensemble entitled "The Adding Machine" was released by Cantaloupe Records in 2002.
"Resonant Relations", 2008
"Resonant Relations" was performed in 2008 at the Band On A Can Marathon in New York by the Crash Ensemble, Dublin. The CD version of "Resonant Relations" was released by Cantaloupe Records in 2008.
"Music for 32 Strings", Octet, 2014
Dreyblatt's "Octet" (2002) was performed at the Band On A Can Festival at MassMoCa in Massachussets in 2014 (Conducted by Todd Reynolds)
Bang On a Can 25th, Recollections by Arnold Dreyblatt
"Its hard to separate my personal memories from the music itself. I first met Michael Gordon in the late eighties in Eindhoven in Holland. He was on tour with his ensemble the Michael Gordon Philharmonic. Evan Ziporyn tells me he was on that tour then, though I believe that I only spoke to Michael. I had been living in Europe, mostly in Berlin since the early eighties, and I was amazed both by the inventiveness and quirkiness of the music, and by the fact that Michael actually knew who I was! He had somehow procured a copy of my first record on India Navigation which had been produced by Phil Niblock.
Michael kept in touch over the following years (incredibly in those pre-internet days with handwritten letters!) and I was invited with the Orchestra of Excited Strings to the Bang On A Can Festival at La Mamma in May, 1991. We shared a bill with Glenn Branca, and as I remember that the Marathon took place two days later. At that point, I had been away from New York for a long time, and this was my first concert in New York in many years. It was a wonderful homecoming. I remember that an inner circle of old friends followed me to Katz's after the concert. The Marathon was a pleasant surprise, a completely new format for listening to contemporary music. Especially impressive was the social network of musicians and composers which made the festival possible. It was from this time that I got to know Michael and Julia more personally, and my wife and I accompanied the growth of their lovely family over the following years.
In 1996 I reworked a composition of mine, "Escalator" for the All-Stars. I had been exclusively working with my own ensemble until then, and it was through a close collaboration with Evan Ziyporyn that the realization of the piece in performance and for recording was made possible. Evan proved to be one of the few to get into the "bare bones" of my music, learning the tuning system and understanding how to translate my interests and aesthetic to transitionally trained musicians. In 1999 he was seminal in producing a fantastic ensemble for the performance of my music with two other members of the All-Stars (Robert Black, Mark Stewart and students of his at MIT, This was one of the most interesting bands of my career, resulting in a historical performance at Tonic in 2000, and the recording of "Adding Machine" which later was issued by Cantaloupe. It was through the encouragement of Bang On A Can, that I began composing for ensembles other than my own over the last 12 years. In 2008, Cantaloupe released my collaboration with the Crash Ensemble in Dublin, and the ensemble performed the piece at the Marathon at the World Financial Center in New York. It's hard to believe that its 25 years! But happy birthday to all who've passed through Bang over the years.
Dreyblatt was invited by the Serralves Foundation Museum to work with Portuguese musicians for a concert on March 3, 2016 in a concert series curated by Pedro Rocha. During a three day workshop process, Dreyblatt created three pieces with the musicians. The concert was related to the exhibition "The Sonnabend Collection" at the museum.
Guest musicians: Gonçalo Almeida, Jorge Queijo, José Valente and Sérgio Carolino.
"Arnold Dreyblatt is a Berlin based American composer and visual artist. At the Serralves auditorium, Dreyblatt will present solo pieces as well as compositions for ensemble played by a group of guest Portuguese musicians." - Program Notes
The Liverpool-based ensemble invited Dreyblatt for a collaborative project with funding from the British Arts Council in 2015. Dreyblatt participated in two workshop periods in the space "Metal" in Liverpool, culminating with concerts in 2016 at the BBC Merseyside in LIverpool (delayed broadcast) and in Berlin at STUD!O10 (with Konrad Sprenger). Ex-Easter Island head performs percussively on electric guitars and other instruments.
For the collaboration, the guitars and a digital keyboard (with sine waves) were tuned in Dreyblatt's scale system for the performances. Members include: Benjamin D. Duvall and Benjamin Fair. guitars, and Jonathan Hering on percussion and keyboards.
The Great Learning Orchestra in Stockholm commissioned Arnold Dreyblatt for a series of workshops and compositions with and for the ensemble. The development process spanned from 2012 to 2014. A small piano was acquired, restrung and retuned in Dreyblatt's tuning system by Johannes Bergmark for the compositions. During a number of workshop periods led by Leif Jordansson, musicians of the ensemble learned to read the tuning system, and perform the scores. Two pieces were developed for a smaller "chamber group" of 8 musicians and a second piece for over 30 musicians, the largest ensemble ever to perform Dreyblatt's music.
"The Great Learning Orchestra – a network of a little more than one hundred musician from different genres, cities and countries, meeting up to explore music with listening in the centre. The GLO is based in Stockholm but cooperates with composers and musicians from all over the world."
August 29 - November 30, 2014: Score Exhibited '1,3,7 1,21', A4 Room, Marabouparken Konsthall, Stockholm
November 27, 2013: Concert, Commissioned Compositions for "The Great Learning Orchestra", including more than 30 musicians, Fylkingen, Stockholm
Dreyblatt composed for Megafaun and toured with them in the USA for concerts in Salem, New York, Boston, Chicago and New York in 2008, followed by performances in 2012 at the Hopscotsch Festival in Raleigh and in 2013 at the Esctatic Festival at Merkin Hall in New York. Four pieces were recorded in 2012 and have been released on CD and LP as "Appalachian Excitation" by Northern Spy Records, New York in 2013.
"Berlin based composer and media artist Arnold Dreyblatt and North Carolina based psychedelic folk band Megafaun are at first glance an unlikely collaborative. Dreyblatt is part of the second generation of minimalist composers, a formidable artist equally at home in the gallery and concert hall. Megafaun are an adventurous band of good ole’ boys, whose music incorporates rock, country, bluegrass, jazz, Americana and psychedelia with a Southern, via Wisconsin, flair. The twain meets in Dreyblatt’s “rock-oriented minimalism” and Megafaun’s layered, experimental and avant-garde approach to re-creating rock. On February 27, 2013, Dreyblatt and Megafaun came together at the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall in the Kaufman Music Center to highlight the result of over 6 years of collaboration. This mashup of Megafaun with Arnold Dreyblatt is just the sort of exhibition of original and unexpected pairings that makes the Ecstatic Music Festival such a vital and rare contribution to the new music scene. The concert began with two seamless works from Dreyblatt; the first Nodal Excitation from 1979, followed by an excerpt from Spin Ensemble from 2011. Dreyblatt played both works on a modified upright bass, with laptop and electronics. Dreyblatt’s bass is his original creation, re-strung with steel piano wire and played by being hit or bowed. Rather than the standard 12-tone equal tempered Western scale, Dreyblatt uses just intonation, a tuning system that allows for pure ratios of small whole numbers, and in his case allows him to play 20 notes per octave rather than the standard eight common to our ears. This creates an enlarged expressive potential and dynamic use of overtone. It can also create discomfort through the sound of unfamiliar pitches and scales. For the passive and indolent aural dispositions of many average listeners, at times Dreyblatt’s Nodal Excitation is grating and relentless in its excited rhythmic overtones... ...After the intermission Dreyblatt joined Megafaun for four of their collaborative works, soon to be released on a new album: Home Hat Placement, Recurrence Plot, Edge Isolation and Radiator. Here the concert hall, the club, the revival, the railway, and the happening came together to bridge southern charm and new world abrasion into something surprisingly lively and engaging. In the rousing opening composition, Home Hat Placement, the overtones and expanded tonal range of the modified bass provided an otherworldly, cultivated combination to the driving and toe-tapping banjo, drums and guitar. Another highlight was Recurrence Plot, a down-tempo, sensual and confident composition, with a combination of sustained notes on the modified bass, bass guitar, and a repetitive slowed drum beat that oozed bravado and moxie. Other compositions presented widely variant scene and soundscapes, filling the room alternatively with ambient drone, noise, filmic melodies, and ruckus reverb. When Dreyblatt introduced the collaboration he explained that back in the old days, something like this would not have been possible, going on to say, “We are no longer one-dimensional people.” Herein lies the most striking and salient summary of the magic of the night. It was when the musicians came together to disrupt and fuse their broad musical aptitudes that the room bowed to the round and vibrant new possibilities." - Adrianne Koteen
Arnold Dreyblatt was Composer in Residence in the Classic Avant series at The Music Gallery in Toronto in 2007.
Workshop and concert participants: Anne Bourne, Rob Clutton, Nick Fraser, John Gzowski, Kathleen Kajioko, Scott Thomson
Workshop: Thursday May 3 - 4, 2007
Concert: Saturday May 5, 2007 (part of Over the Top Festival)
Performance Workshop and Commission
On March 16th, 2006, a lineup of artists on the TABLE OF THE ELEMENTS label performed an evening length program of experimental music. As part of the presentation, composer/performer Arnold Dreyblatt performed alongside Austin New Music Co-op members Steve Bernal (cello), Brent Fariss (prepared contrabass), Nick Hennies (drumset), and Travis Weller (violin). For this event, Dreyblatt created a new piece during a workshop period preceding the concert.
The Austin New Music Co-op commissioned a piece from Arnold Dreyblatt in 2007 entitled "Kinship Collapse which was premiered in Austin in October of that year in Austin.
"In one of their most ambitious programs yet, the New Music Co-op has commissioned a new composition from Arnold Dreyblatt. The new program-length work entitled "Kinship Collapse" will be premiered by the NMC 'Orchestra of Excited Strings' featuring Steve Bernal, cello; Brent Fariss, bass; Mikal Hart, horn; Nick Hennies, percussion; Josh Ronsen, guitar; and Travis Weller, violin. The program will also feature a solo performance by Dreyblatt on his 'Excited String Bass' which uses piano wire instead of contrabass strings to create an otherworldly cloud of harmonic overtones. This collaboration was born when NMC was chosen as Arnold's backing ensemble in Spring of 2006 during the South by Southwest music festival. The smaller-scale project received rave reviews: "Arnold cued the [NMC] musicians as he played his bass and they came to a few thrilling stops and starts at coordinated changes" said a review of the concert in the April issue of 'Baggatellen.' The reviewer continued, saying of the concert "A really great performance that received the standing ovation of the night. Thrilled that I got to see this." After a successful and inspiring experience, Dreyblatt and NMC agreed to continue working together." - Austin New Music Co-op
With support from the Irish Arts Council in 2004, Dreyblatt was commissioned by the Crash Ensemble, Dublin to compose a new work. During a series of intense working visits over a one and half year period, members the ensemble was introduced to the Dreyblatt tuning system. The resulting work, "Resonant Relations" was composed for flutes (wooden and metal), trombone, violin, viola, cello, contrabass, harpsichord, and percussion (timpanies, snare and bass drum, metal pieces). The work was first performed at the Sugar Club in Dublin on 27 October 2005 in a program co-curated with Crash artistic director Donnacha Dennehy which included performances of compositions by Dreyblatt's two composition teachers La Monte Young and Alvin Lucier which he realized with members of the ensemble. "Resonant Relations" was recorded subsequently in a studio in Dublin and was issued along with a second composition on Bang On A Can's cantaloupe records in 2007.
On Working With Arnold Dreyblatt
"It was such a pleasure for Crash Ensemble to work with Arnold on this project. We had long been fans of his incredibly distinctive music. I remember the first day I heard a recording from his wonderfully titled Orchestra of Excited Strings. This jingly-jangly rhythmically driven obsession with the overtone series was something entirely new to me. It left a strong impression. We were delighted when in 2004 we were in a position to commission Arnold to write a piece for the group with funding from the Arts Council of Ireland. He made many visits to Dublin, even teaching the group exactly how his system worked so that they were able to understand the relationship between the numbers and the overtone series. Everyone started to listen in an entirely different, ferociously precise way. "Resonant Relations" was premiered in October of 2005 at the Sugar Club in Dublin in a programme co-curated by Arnold and I (including other pieces by him, Alvin Lucier and La Monte Young). The piece was recorded shortly afterwards at Westland Studios in Dublin."
- Donnacha Dennehy, artistic director of Crash Ensemble
In 2002 Dreyblatt recieved a commission from the Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken in collaboration with Saarland Radio to compose an Octet for two string quartets (with the fourth violin is replaced by a double bass). In 2003, he rewrote and extended this composition for string quartet which was played by the Pellegrini Quartet on two occasions. Both compositions were composed only for the performance on open strings and flagolets - no "stopped" notes were permitted.
"Music for 32 Strings", 2002 (Octet), Pellegrini-Quartett Freiburg with the addition of the Saarbrucker Streich-Trio:
"Alten Feuerwache", Saarbrücken, 2002 (in Cooperation with the Saarland Statetheater Saarbrucken, Kammermusik-Reihe, und dem Saarl. Rundfunk SR2 - Kulturradio)
"Music for 16 Strings", 2003 (Quartet), Pellegrini-Quartett Freiburg:
State Museum Schwerin, Forum New Music, KONZERT IV, September 28, 2003 (Curator: Eberhard Blum); Akademie der Künste (Academy of Art), Berlin, As part of the Exhibition: Conceptualisms, September 4, 2003, Curator: Christoph Metztger
Jim O'Rourke was singlehandedly responsible for re-introducing Dreyblatt's music to a wider audience. He introduced Dreyblatt to Jeff Hunt who issued "The Sound of One String" on Table of the Elements. He invited Dreyblatt to perform at Lounge Ax in Chicago on May 25, 1997. Performers: Arnold Dreyblatt, Excited Strings Bass, Jim O'Rourke, Snare Drum, Kevin Drumm, David Grubs, Guitars, Maureen Loughnare, Violin, Curated by Jim O'Rourke Additionally, O'Rourke reissued and remastered Dreyblatt's LP "Nodal Excitation", originally released on India Navigation" which was issued on Dexter's Cigar / Drag City" in 1996. David Weinstein produced a concert at Tonic on January 18 and 19, 2001 with Arnold Dreyblatt and The Orchestra of Excited Strings, Jim O'Rourke and Tony Conrad. A collective set took place at the end of each night. O'Rourke also wrote the liner notes for the "Appalachian Excitation" LP by Arnold Dreyblatt and Megafaun in 2013.
"Arnold Dreyblatt once wrote on one of his earliest records that his music was somewhat akin to a juggler, he does stuff down there to make stuff happen up there. This still is the best description i have ever heard of not only Mr. Dreyblatt's music, but for a whole range of phenomenon that i have seen through life. It isn't just confined to music, or even to the subset of music that his music shares with other like-minded geniuses, it can be seen flowing through all aspects of life, some people would call it karma, on the other end of the spectrum someone might call it investment, but what it comes down to is the cause and effect of the vibrating world. The world vibrates because it is constantly changing, no matter what efforts are made to stabilize it. To try and freeze and pinpoint what is going on in Arnold Dreyblatt's music is like spending time looking for the wizard behind the curtain while all along there is the fantastic giant thingthere in front of you the whole time. Many times when i have tried to turn friend's on to his music i tell them , "look up" (and of course "turn it up"), because just like painters say that the eye must learn to read, the ear needs some help with it's sense of direction. And Arnold Dreyblatt's music is one hell of a giant intersection, there's no lack of propulsion; left, right, up, down, it's all there with a seriously overworked traffic controller at it's center. But above all this hubub, stories above, there is the air that is thrown into currects by all the activity below, becoming visible, crashing into each other and sending new currents on their way. I have often heard "you can't grab air", but of course you can, it just visits your hand for a moment. But with Arnold Dreyblatt, the air grabs you, and you can stay as long as you like. (and turn it up.....)" - Jim O'Rourke, 2013
The first collaboration with the great clarinetist and mandolinist Andy Statman was in 1991 in New York for the recordings which were later included on the CD compilation: 'Haymische Groove' from Extraplatte in Vienna (See Discography). In 1995 Statman was invited to the 10 Year Berlin Anniversary Concert of The Orchestra of Excited Strings at Podewil in Berlin, where he performed as a guest soloist with the Ensemble. In 1980, Dreyblatt wrote the album notes to Statman's Rounder LP "Flatbush Waltz". In 1983, Dreyblatt arranged a tour for Statman with concerts in Berlin and Prague.
The vocalist Shelley Hirsch (New York) sang and improvised with The Orchestra of Excited Strings in Dreyblatt's Opera Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933 in performances from 1991 to 1997 and in concerts with the Orchestra of Excited Strings through during this period.
I have worked closely with Pierre Berthet since 1989, when we first performed our collaboration "End Correction" at concerts in Holland, Italy and Belgium. Pierre has also performed in my ensemble, "The Orchestra of Excited Strings" from 1991 - 1997 in many concerts throughout Europe and the U.S.A.
Performances "End Correction": 1988-89: Eindoven: Effenar, Groningen: De Salon, Den Haag: Oyvaer Desk, Liege: Summer Festival, Ferrara: Aterforum Festival
"Music for String Orchestra"
Dreyblatt was invited by the Prime Foundation in Groningen for a three-day workshop with a small string orchestra which resulted in a composition which was included in a program of the festival "Other Tuning". The first section utilizes the entire ensemble sustaining in just intonation, progressing slowly through the first eleven odd overtones, in each step contrasted with the added inclusion of the fundamental. In the second section a quartet performs in a bowing technique which mirrors the timbre of the struck excited string basses. A recorded section of the work was included on the CD: "The Sound of One String" on Table of the Elements in 1998.
Dreyblatt collaborated in a number of projects with the composer and artist Paul Panhuysen (1934-2015). He was invited for an artist residency at Het Apollohuis in Eindhoven, and toured with Panhuysen in the duo project "Duo Geloso". Dreyblatt also performed with Panhuysen on his "Long String Installlation" on a number of occasions. He contributed to the publication "Echo, The Images of Sound" in 1987. Panhuysen was a strong supporter of Dreyblatt's work in the 1980's.
"Duo Geloso": A Music Performance Collaboration on various combinations of modified, self-made and traditional instruments including electric and hawaiian guitars, accordian, piano, violin with voice and electronics.
Performances 1987: Cologne: Stadtgarten, Bremen: Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Braunschweig: Film Fest, Rotterdam: De Unie, Gent: Stichting Logos, Hasselt: Instituut voor Bildende Kunsten, East Berlin: Marienburgerstrasse Festival, De Unie, Rotterdam, 1987
Tibor Szemzö invited Dreyblatt to Budapest first in 1983 and Dreyblatt continued to perform in Budapest through the 80's. They formed a duo in 1987 with Dreyblatt on Lap Steel Guitar and Tibor Szemzö on Processed Bass Flute with Acoustic Feedback.
Performances (on tour with Alvin Curran and Paul Panhuysen):
1987: Budapest: Theater Skene, Kinizsi Club; Miskolcs: Bartok Akademie, Petrofi Cznarnok
1986: Berlin-Ost: Marienburgerstrasse Musik Festival
Concerts produced by Tibor Szemzö in Budapest:
1983: Solo Performance, Theater Skene
1986: The Orchestra of Excited Strings, Petrofi Cznarnok
Dreyblatt met Ellen Fullman in the late 70's in New York when she was beginning to develop her Long String Insturment. They formed a non-profit in New York called "Sound Support" in 1982.
Dreyblatt performed with Fullman on a European tour of her Long String Instrument in Stuttgart, Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Berlin in 1986.
In 2004, Dreyblatt introduced her to Jörg Hiller (alias Konrad Sprenger) and suggested that they record some of her song compositions from the seventies, along with one of his favorites, "I Ain't Got No Home" from Woody Guthrie, which resulted in the much acclaimed CD, "Ort" on Hiller's Choose Label and a number of live tours.