Saturday, December 21, 2013

Card Music 2013 - origins and futures

'the snow globe'

card music 2013: 'the snow globe' (free music)

Memory plays funny tricks. After working on my most recent PMusic composition the snow globe, I began to wonder how many pieces of 'Card Music' I had made during the past few years - how many shakes of the glass have there been?

Looking back through my files, I see I began Card Music in 2004, the year I released my CD 'Inlets', and this version featured a recorded/RMusic piece from the next planned album (with no real animation) entitled subtle energies.

At the time, I just saw this musical Christmas card as a way of reaching family and friends and didn't suspect how much the idea would grow. I didn't even issue a card in 2005 but in '06 I made my first PMusic Card Music, with an animated card sequence and washes of 'found' carols and seasonal song I named Carol Cloud. This was an exploration of the possibilities of harmonies colliding, pushing and aligning with one another and was well received, especially by an MA fine art group to whom I gave a talk about my work. This encouraged me to continue and publicise Card Music more widely, esp. via the Chameleon Lectra website.

Carol Moon
of 2007 continued and extended the idea of harmonic tensions not found in the original recordings, and in 2008, under the influence of my CONSEMBLE project, I made Frosted Music built entirely from guitars.

I wasn't satisfied with Noël of 2009 which included a systems music approach in with the mix of Christmas tunes
thinking it rather stale I didn't promote itand so for 2010 took a whole new approach to make an original PMusic piece from my own playing (with just a small amount of caroling samples) called Season's Greetings.

2011's Robin Songs moved away from music entirely and featured an OULIPO-like animated, chance-selected sequence of the letters r o b i n which in turn determined the order of a sequence of Nets, featuring various short (and some slowed-down) recordings of robins at song.

Festive Six (2012) recycled the music from Season's Greetings but used indeterminacy in the webpages to choose from a possible 6 outcomes.

The current Card Music of 2013
the snow globe brings a lot of these ideas together, in that it uses: an animated sequence of indeterminately-selected, found seasonal imagery, 6 themed Nets (for visuals and music) and a framing narrative. The music is an extension of Season's Greetings with additional content (including reindeer barking and old cylinder recordings from the early 1900s).

It now becomes clear to me that Card Music is a compositional opportunity in its own right (rather than an informal calling card) and this year I have housed it on the new Alembic Books site to draw an audience and promoted it via Facebook, as well as the usual channels (this blog, CL website etc.).

Next year's work for 2014 will be an entirely new piece with original music and graphics. On Thursday I bought a kit to make small ice guitars (for drinks) so maybe this will provide inspiration...

'A Book is a Situation'

The rainbow attaches itself

Some speculative writing:

I coined the above titlephrase in a notebook back in 1997 when thinking about my digital work, as I often used the form of the book (metaphor of the book(?)) both to structure my material and suggest perhaps the idea of the 'magic book' - a book in which the images and words 'come to life'.

Books can of course be magical in themselves, in the realm of the mind, but when I first started reading I can remember the childhood desire for pages to be animate and responsiveor even an environmenta place that you could step inside and visit. Some early reading even suggested this in itself: 'Alice in Wonderland', 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' -and even the film 'Mary Poppins' (Stevenson 1964), where it was possible to jump into a coloured chalk drawing sketched on the ground.

Boy in a Box
The illustrations in books assist in this, especially engravingswhere the intricate lines conspire to hypnotize and beckon the eye.

This seems to me a natural, intuitive aspect of what is now called metatextuality: something beyond the rigid, one dimensional code of reading that insists that writing is closed, that chalk drawings are unvisitable, that you cannot 'cut a hole in the sky' (à la Yoko Ono). The creative tension lies in the paradox that you are both aware of reading a text and transcending it at the same time.

So perhaps a book is best thought of as not being defined by print and paper but in relation to what it encloses, what it offers:
'A Book is an Environment'
'A Book is a Clearing'
'A Book is a...' offered over to a fresh phrase picked by author/reader.

In this, the idea of the book becomes an organising principle, independent of the material from which it is constructed.

It is this thought that entices me to make Lectra in the form of interactive, digital books
(and bookworks in the form of interactive, printed books ;-)

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