Inspired by the work of James Tenney, Gyorgy Ligeti, Charlemagne Palestine, and Conlon Nancarrow, Seth Horvitz's Eight Studies for Automatic Piano makes use of simple, computer-aided compositional processes to test the limits of human perception and machine precision. It relies on a bare minimum of technical means to explore notions of temporal distortion, iterative process, and elegant complexity. Presented in an immersive concert setting without the presence of a human performer, Eight Studies questions traditional notions of live performance and musical 'life.'
- Please DOWNLOAD the Listener's Guide containing detailed descriptions and visual scores for each piece.
- VIEW VIDEOS of performance excerpts of Eight Studies for Automatic Piano
I [A] Study No. 14: Arch Study for the Highest Eight Notes (05:17)
II [A] Study No. 4: Sixteen Diatonic Glissandi Moving at Harmonic Rates (02:24)
III [B] Study No. 2: An Approximate Series of Approximate Harmonic Series (06:05)
IV [D] Study No. 13: Echoes (03:56)
V [C] Study No. 21: Bells (05:24)
VI [B] Study No. 1: Octaves, Systematically Filled and Folded (05:27)
VII [D] Study No. 29: Tentacles (04:29)
VIII [C] Study No. 99: Strumming Machine (12:32)
[A] IDEALIZED SYMMETRICAL FORM: The highest level of symmetry and objective process is maintained, the final result resembling an idealized mathematical form.
[B] CONSTRUCTED BINARY FORM: A basic, repeating shape is introduced and systematically layered, transposed, and rhythmically offset against itself. Following the exposition, the length of each repeating shape is incrementally shortened, producing a rhythmic phasing process.
[C] INTUITIVE LINEAR FORM: Intuitively generated elements are introduced linearly, above a steady pulse. No systematic transformations occur with the exception of gradual increases or decreases in velocity.
[D] INTUITIVE TRANSFORMATIONAL FORM: Systematic transformations of a basic, repeating shape are applied intuitively, sometimes haphazardly. Suggestions of form and structure are led by the outcome of the transformations.
All works composed by Seth Horvitz (Sutekh). Performed by the Yamaha Disklavier C7 Mark III. Recorded at Littlefield Concert Hall, Mills College, April 2010. Special thanks: Richard Chartier, James Fei, Les Stuck, Fred Frith, Chris Brown, and all at Mills. image: Study No. 1 (piano roll view)
Seth Horvitz (b. 1973, Los Angeles) is an interdisciplinary artist, musician, and designer whose work revolves around the perception of sound and the idiosyncratic behavior of machines. Since the mid-1990s, he has produced and performed electronic music under the name Sutekh for dozens of record labels including Creaked (Switzerland), Leaf (UK), Soul Jazz (UK), Orthlorng Musork (USA), Force Inc./Mille Plateaux (Germany), and his own Context Free Media. He is also one half of the spastic dance-theater-self-help duo Pigeon Funk with Joshua Kit Clayton. With strong roots in dance music, most notably techno, Sutekh explores uncomfortable areas where that definition makes no sense, drawing on influences ranging from Jamaican dub, free improv, and noise to musique concrète and the classical avant-garde. Weaving between the meticulous and messy, abrasive and tranquil, rational and absurd, his work harnesses an expansive sonic palette that exploits the beauty and unpredictability of the recording medium itself.
As a remixer, Sutekh has reinterpreted the work of dozens of artists including Norweigan Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Hanne Hukkelberg, micro-sound artist Alva Noto (aka Carsten Nicolai), pioneer of conceptual art Lawrence Weiner, and the eight piece Klezmer ensemble KLEZ-X. In 2006, the Leaf Label compiled twenty-three of his remixes into a double-disc and four-LP set entitled 'Born Again,' described by the BBC as 'gorgeous minimalism paired to an unstoppable propulsiveness and a brilliant deployment of texture that's so tactile it prompts feelings of synaesthesia.'
As a live performer, Sutekh has appeared at festivals, museums, concert halls, and nightclubs around the world, including Mutek (Montreal), Sonár (Barcelona), Dis-patch (Belgrade), Elektrodienos (Vilnius), Croma (Tenerife), Numero-Projecta (Lisbon), C-Sides (Jerusalem), Bios (Athens), Sonic Acts (Amsterdam), the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), SFMOMA, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Sydney Opera House, Womb (Tokyo), Zouk (Singapore), and Ostgut/Berghain (Berlin).
Horvitz has been an active member of the Bay Area electronic music community since the early 1990s, conducting weekly radio shows, deejaying at numerous renegade parties, and co-organizing several notorious club events such as Static, Sabotage, and Trouble. Though he began his musical adventures as a self-taught misuser of electronics, in recent years he has gravitated towards a more studied approach to composition, taking private courses in piano performance and music theory and completing scores for several independent films. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley (1995) and recently earned an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College, where he composed a series of works for computer-controlled piano among many other projects.