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Albums of the 21st Century

The conventional album – a set of a dozen or so discrete tracks in a fixed order – is a throwback, a trip down memory lane. The technical constraints that necessitated the form are no longer present. But the notion of album as collection of pieces held together by an overarching principle or theme is […]

Posted on November 30, 2014 at 4:15 pm by rachmiel · Permalink

Soundcombing

I’ve always loved beachcombing. Growing up, I’d wander the shores of Jones Beach looking for whatever the ocean happened to yield that day: shells, rocks, driftwood, dried-up hermit crabs and jellyfish and other mysterious aquatic beasts. Now I’m landlocked, 350 miles from the ocean. So I do my scavenging in the audio arena: soundcombing. I […]

Posted on April 23, 2013 at 9:09 am by rachmiel · Permalink

Less is More

For electronic music composers, life is a grand – and crowded! – playground. We are surrounded by thousands of great-sounding toys: sequencers, samplers, synthesizers, VSTs galore. There is such a glut of sonic beasts out there, one could make a full-time career out of downloading and auditioning them … with little or no time left […]

Posted on April 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm by rachmiel · Permalink

More is More

Excess, when applied in an artful manner, can dramatically enhance the power and expressiveness of music. Two dazzling examples jump to mind: Birds of Fire and Go Plastic. John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, which had its heyday in the early 70s, was the most ecstatically loud and musically dense band of its era, perhaps any era. […]

Posted on April 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm by rachmiel · Permalink

Musical Flow

Musical flow is the succession of sounds (and silences) that spans the duration of a piece. It’s the way a piece unfolds for the listener; its rhythmic and melodic dance; its storyline. A piece’s musical flow cannot be reduced to a simple formula, diagram, or analytical mapping. Flow is a complex and mysterious quality, more […]

Posted on July 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm by rachmiel · Permalink

Shhh …

Music is (un)filled with silence. On the macro level this silence occurs between movements, sections, passages, phrases, and even single notes: gaps in sound-time. On the micro level it occurs within every sonic event, at the infinitesimal points when the sound waves attain zero amplitude (zero crossings). Silence can be pure (absolute) or coloured (relative). […]

Posted on June 25, 2012 at 8:15 am by rachmiel · Permalink

Form und Function

While studying composition in Germany, I fell in love with musical forms. Theme and variation, sonata, canon, fugue, spiral, recursive, Fibonacci, fractal … I took them all in, like divine templates. Unfortunately, my love of form ended up trumping my love of sound, and my pieces grew ever more brilliant on paper and dull in […]

Posted on December 10, 2011 at 9:15 am by rachmiel · Permalink