Arnold Dreyblatt’s Orchestra of Excited Strings peforms in a 20-tone unequal tuning system based on the harmonic series. For the ensemble he has invented and modified musical instruments has developed new performance techniques. Dreyblatt’s tuning system is calculated from the third, fifth, seventh, ninth and eleventh overtones and their multiples. These mathematically related overones are heard as a tonal relation when they are transposed and sounded above a fundamental tone.
In 2009, Dreyblatt formed a new ensemble for concerts for Nymusikk in Oslo and the Impakt Festival in Utrecht with himself on Excited Strings Bass, Jörg Hiller on Percussion and "Motor-Guitar", Joachim Schütz on modified E-Guitar and Robin Hayward on Tuba. The ensemble grew out of many years of collaboration with Jörg Hiller as musician, music producer and recording engineer. This ensemble has continued to peform internationally at theSKIF Festival, St. Petersburg; MMI Festival, Marseille; Face E Festival, Geneva and at the State-X/New Forms Festival in the Hague as well as in galleries and concert sites in Germany such as the Stadtgarten, Köln, Mex 21 Festival, Dortmund; Kunst als Klang Festival MANALESE editions and Neue Berliner Kunstverein and at the Berghain in Berlin as part of the MaerzMusik Festival.
The five ensemble pieces currently being performed are composed for “excited strings” bass, modified electric guitar, percussion, computer controlled mulit-channel guitar, Hammond Drawbar emulator and microtonal Tuba.
The Orchestra of Excited Strings was founded by composer Arnold Dreyblatt in New York City in 1979 for the development and performance of his music compositions.
Within the following years the ensemble performed extensively in the United States and recorded an LP for India Navigation Records in 1982 entitled, Nodal Excitation which was re-released on CD in 1998 by Drag City. In 1984, Dreyblatt moved his base of operations to Berlin where he formed a new ensemble while composer-in-residence at Knstlerhaus Bethanien. This ensemble has performed throughout East and West Europe at numerous festivals, museums, galleries and other music venues. An LP entitled, Propellers in Love was issued by Knstlerhaus Bethanien in 1985. This recording was reissued by 'Hat Art Records' in 1986 on compact disc along with newly recorded material. In composing a performance opera entitled, Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933 (a co-production between Inventionen '91/DAAD, Berlin and Wiener Fest Wochen, Vienna) Dreyblatt reformed the ensemble including New York vocalist Shelley Hirsch in 1991 and performed with her at the Bang On A Can Festival at La Mama in New York in the same year. The ensemble then recorded a number of pieces in New York with clarinetist Andy Statman which were issued by Extra Platte, Vienna in early 1992. Dreyblatt has also composed numerous pieces for theater and dance as well as designing sound installations. In 1993, the ensemble performed on tour in the former Soviet Union, and through the middle 90's performed in Dreyblatt's theater pieces, including the Memory Arena which premiered in 1995. John Zorn's Zaddik label released Animal Magnetism in 1995, and a collection of solo works and live performances by the Orchestra of Excited Strings entitled The Sound of One String was released in 1998. This ensemble was disbanded in 1997. In 2000, and new Orchestra of Excited Strings was founded in New York together with members of the Bang On A Can All-Stars and students from MIT in Cambridge. A CD of this ensemble was released in 2002 on Cantaloupe Records. In 2009 the current ensemble was founded with Jörg Hiller, Joachim Schütz, and Robin Hayward.
1. Two Excited Strings Double Basses, Modified Piano, Hurdy Gurdy, Pipe Organ (1980)
2. Two Excited Strings Double Basses, Modified Piano, Hurdy Gurdy, Pipe Organ, French Horn, Trombone (1981-83)
3. Two Excited Strings Double Basses, Modified Piano, Violin, Hurdy Gurdy, Percussion (1984-87)
4. Excited Strings Double Bass, Modified Cembalom, Modified Electric Guitar, Violin, Percussion, Electronics (1990-93)
5. Excited Strings Double Bass, Modified Cembalom, Cello, Modified Electric Guitar, Hurdy Gurdy, Tuba, Trombone, Percussion (1994-97)
6. Excited Strings Double Bass, Normal Double Bass, Modified Cembalom, Cello, Two Modified Electric Guitars, Violin, Hurdy Gurdy, Percussion (1999-2000)
7. Excited Strings Double Bass, Modified Electric Guitar, Computer Driven Electric Guitar, Microtonal Tuba, Hammond Drawbar Emulator, Percussion (Current Ensemble)
In 1999, composer and performer David Weinstein suggested that I form an American ensemble to perform with new compositions for concerts at Tonic in New York together with Tony Conrad and Jim O'Rourke. After the Bang On A Can All-Stars began performing (and finally recorded) my composition Escalator , I had been in discussion with a number of the All-Star musicians about forming a new ensemble. I was invited to teach a workshop in music and acoustics at the Center for the Arts at MIT in 1999, and Evan Ziporyn suggested that we could make use of the university facilities. A number of talented students were selected to complete the ensemble, and the occasion provided a second concert opportunity, as well as a space to record.
The ensemble represents an interesting collaboration drawing from a number of generations. In contrast to the well-known talents of Bang On A Can All-Stars members (Evan Ziporyn, Marc Stewart and Robert Black), Jeff Lieberman and Laurel P. Smith, both graduates from MIT were both in their early 20's. Danny Tunick, with his extensive background in both rock/punk and classical styles, provides a solid driving force which is inspiring for the entire ensemble." - Arnold Dreyblatt
A CD entitled 'The Adding Machine" of this ensemble is available from this ensemble from Cantaloupe Records (Bang On A Can).
Members: Evan Ziiporyn: Cimbalom, Robert Black: Double and Excited Bass, Marc Stewart: Electric Guitar; Monochord and Excited Bass Jeff Lieberman: Electric Guitar and Excited Bass Laurel Smith: Violin and Hurdy Gurdy. Danny Tunick: Percussion
In 1989, Dreyblatt returned to Berlin from Belgium and Budapest. An ensemble was founded in Berlin for the first performances of the 'Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933' Opera in 1990 (with Shelley Hirsch as vocalist) and existed with some personnel changes until 1997. The ensemble toured Europe for many years and recorded "Animal Magnetism" for Zaddik Records in 1995. A version of the ensemble performed in conjunction with Dreyblatt's "Dynamic Processing Gating System" in performances in the early 1990's.
Jan Schade: Cello, Tuba; Silvia Ocougne: Prepared E-Guitar and Basque String Drum; Werner Durand: Saxophone; Dirk Lebahn: Excited Strings Bass, Hurdy Gurdy; Jason Kahn, Chico Mello: Cimbalom and Violin; Pierre Berthet, Jason Kahn: Percussion and Cimbalom; Rob Gutowski, Trombone; Paul Brody: Trombone, Jan Tilmann Schade: Cello, Trombone
In September of 1984, under a grant from the Overbrook Foundation, Dreyblatt took up residence in Künstlerhaus Bethanien in West Berlin where he began a new ensemble which included percussion and violin. A set of percussion instruments were first added to the ensemble at this time: two snare drums, small and large tom tom, and a copy of a "gardon" trannsylvanian string drum. The addition of percussion to the ensemble has stimulated a new rhythmic complexity in the music. The range and tone colour of the violin blend excellently with the combination of basses and piano. This ensemble performed extensively in Europe between 1985 and 1987. "Propellers in Love" was recorded during the first tour to Holland, West Germany and Switzerland.
Jan Schade: Modified "Princess" Piano; Arnold Dreyblatt and Dirk Lebahn: Excited Strings Bass; Wolfgang Mettler, Frederic Le Junter: Violin; Wolfgang Glum: Percussion
Excerpts from Program notes:
"From Excited Strings come sounds that seem to stand on their own. In performance, we feel like jugglers: we make something down here, and something happens up there. One could say that the entire history of my work in music has been derived from a single, subjective experience with sound. It is this experience which generates the music ideas - and not the other way around." - Arnold Dreyblatt
The first New York City Ensemble was formed for a concert at the Experimental Intermedia Foundation in early 1980. With Peter Phillips as "concert master", the first Orchestra of Excited Strings included two double basses modified with piano wire (one with an extended neck), the premiere of the "Midget Upright Pianoforte" (restrung with unwound wire and excited with feltless wood hammers) and a Hurdy Gurdy. Later a portative was built with pipes and keyboard in Dreyblatt's intonation, and in later periods French Horn and Trombone were added. In 1981 Dreyblatt reformed the ensemble with a mixture of new and original members at Wesleyan University where he was invited by composer Alvin Lucier for a graduate fellowship. In 1981, Dreyblatt built a portative pipe organ with a specially designed keyboard to represent the 20-tone per octave just intoned tuning system. Upon recieving a M.A. degree in Composition and Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan, Dreyblatt returned to New York City and the ensemble was re-formed with the inclusion of French Horn and then Trombone which perform in the intonation of the naturally-occurring harmonic series through overblowing.
1979-80: First New York Ensemble
Arnold Dreyblatt, Michael Hauenstein, Peter Phillips, Tracy Kirschenbaum
1981-82: Wesleyan University Ensemble
Arnold Dreyblatt, K. Mason Hill, Randal Baier, Ruth Charloff, Michael Hauenstein, Peter Phillips, Greg Lewis
1983: Second New York Ensemble
Arnold Dreyblatt, Michael Hauenstein, Siobhan O'Looney, Eric Feinstein, K. Mason Hill, Peter Zummo
"The melodic events present are for the most part not played on any one instrument but occurr as partials coalesce in the space and in the ear. By that time it is more or less a 'now you hear it, now you don't' sort of situation. The sound itself is strikingly original: the overtones emerge in something like geological strata, from simple, steady thirds, and fifths at the bottom to elusive pings on top, with percussive thwacks in between that with careful listening seem to change from timbres into melodies." -The Village Voice, 1982