Amplified acoustic contrabass prepared with music wire, magnetically vibrating wires and sine waves
A drone composition for „excited strings“ Bass and Digital Laptop. Bowed string harmonics are performed against the resonance of magnetically vibrating wires and tuned sine waves in a multi-layered textured drone composition. First premiered at The Kitchen in New York in March 2017.
Arnold Dreyblatt has created a palette of acoustic signals and patterns derived from a recording project involving a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scanner (specifically the "Siemens Magnetom Symphony Maestro Class") in the Martin-Luther-Hospital in Berlin. Dreyblatt understands this device as a giant Tesla coil, in which the alignment and resonances of a powerful magnetic field are gradually altered by rotating radio frequencies. Under Dreyblatt’s direction, Siemens technicians operated the machine especially for these recordings, searching for software settings generating a desired sonic output rather than as an aparatus for scanning particular body areas, as this machine is normally used. The audio segments were analyzed, deconstructed and grouped as by pitch, rhythm and density. For the resulting composition, these files have been combined and fused, yet they have not been digitally treated or altered in any way. The recordings were originally utilized as the acoustic element of the audio-visual installation 'Turntable History” which was installed at the Singuhr Gallery in Berlin in 2009. Recordings of ”Turntable History" and the later composition “Spin Ensemble” were issued by Important Records as: CD Imprec322 and SAUNA14, respectively; followed by "Magnetom", first performed in 2017.
In the spring of 1979 I was approached to perform at a downtown performance festival in New York. I had been developing a prepared double bass prepared with unwound music wire, in order to excite the higher overtones.
Over time, I worked on a repertoire of isolated percussive and bowed attacks, and these evolved into a continuous rhythmic technique in which I could excite chords of overtones above the fundamental. This technique is a combination of bowing and striking, in which a short portion of the bow is brought into contact with the string in a forward and backward motion. If the striking aspect is emphasized, the inharmonic nature of the attack overwhelms the sound and little resonance is excited. If a long section of bow hair is brought into contact with the string, the resulting sound is lacking in resonance. This composition is performed as a solo work, and is often the introduction to his ensemble compositions performed by the Orchestra of Excited Strings.
"The performance is a careful consideration of the location and influence of the acoustic Nodal Regions as identified on #12 and #11 unwound Music Wire stretched on a double bass (40.5" speaking length). The integrity of a fundamental vibration is maintained for both strings at all times; all movement of pitch occurs in the overtone structure. A shorter speaking length is never created through "stopping" or "fretting" techniques. Rather, harmonic, partial vibrations are calculated, coaxed, and are occasionally isolated at the nodes of the string." - from program notes, 1979. "Nodal Excitation (Solo)" has also been performed by Bassist Robert Black in a number of U.S. tours and by Arnold Dreyblatt internationally since 1979." - Program Notes, 1979
In Calculations, Dreyblatt explores the tuning system which he has developed over many years. A gradual journey though tuned sine and square waves over a layer of resonating string vibrations.
"The first of the two pieces he played at the Point Ephemere used a such tuning in the setting of a relatively recent electronic work, presented as a laptop performance. Well, maybe in the case of an electronic work one should rather speak of the 'range of frequencies used' rather than 'tuning'. The piece consisted in fields of sound that were gradually built up and developed around an E-core, and within which ever changing rhythmic patterns of beatings continue to evolve." - Soundblog in-strumm-end-s january 19, 2005.
Performances: Octopus Festival Paris, Gallery Estatic Torino
In 1986-87 Dreyblatt 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. A projection composition based on re-animated family home movies accompanies the music. The performance system was later further developed as End Correction, as a duet with Pierre Berthet and in the composition, Escalator, performed by The Orchestra of Excited Strings and by the Bang On A Can All-Stars.
"The composition of Arnold Dreyblatt, commissioned for Ars Electronica in Linz and executed on self-made instruments set a noteworthiest accent to the festival... ...minimalist structure, stoic repetition, half-tone modulations and hard sweeping rhythms whose otherwise bizarre beauty was almost a punk concert: sounds like sparks flying under a striking hammer. -Süddeutsche Zeitung