Brian Riordan - Recorded Ruins


Program Note: This piece is based on the use of transducers placed on the lower strings of the piano. Sympathetic vibrations are sent to the strings which cause overtones to sound. This technique allows the piano to make microtonal pitches without detuning the instrument. The live electronics are used exclusively for the sympathetic vibrations. All sounds that are audible by the audience are from the acoustic ensemble. Commissioned by the Callithumpian Consort and the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice in 2018. (This is a live recording of the premier performance) Instrumentation: Bass clarinet, trombone, piano, violin, cello, live electronics.

Tuning information:

(The length of the piece is intended to be 9-10 minutes. This performance went slower and it accidentally went longer.) Regarding the tuning: All pitches are based on a custom extended just intonation system tuned to at least two overtone series at a time. I used transducers that sent square waves into piano strings to ignite specific overtones on that string. Because two transducers are used at all times on different strings, multiple tuning systems are used from the beginning. The first pitched material heard in the piece are based on a B and a Db series. The transducer piano part expands out to Bb and F# by the end of the piece. Only the first 31 partials are used from any series. The remainder of the ensemble tunes to these microtonal pitches, and assist in the modulation of one tuning system to the next. A scala file wasn't pasted as it would not represent all the microtonal pitches present in the composition as it is customized. The system I use is quite simple, yet it constantly modulates between the two fundamentals, creating a large number of microtonal pitches. The Helmholtz-Ellis microtonal accidental system was used for notation.

Composer bio:

Brian Riordan is a composer, performer, improviser, producer, and sound artist originally from Chicago, IL. He is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow and a PhD candidate in Music Composition and Theory at University of Pittsburgh, where he pursues interests in temporal discontinuity, delay-based performance, real-time digital signal processing, and laptop performance aesthetics. As an avid collaborator, he has performed in numerous ensembles ranging from rock, jazz, classical, and experimental throughout the United States. His compositions have been performed by The JACK Quartet, The Callithumpian Consort, Wet Ink Ensemble, The Meridian Arts Ensemble, Kamraton, The H2 Quartet, Alia Musica, Wolftrap, and his compositions have been featured at STEIM, SICPP, New Music On The Point, SPLICE, and The Walden Creative Musicians Retreat. As a member of the Pittsburgh ensemble “How Things Are Made,” he produced and performed on over 37 albums for the group and have commissioned 52 compositions.