Posts tagged Isaac Schankler
"It is music that provokes" - Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
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The Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review says:

“No person is an island and perhaps every piece of music connects in some way to every other piece of music whether local or world-widely, contemporary to ancient. That may be more to chew off on this rainy morning than I can safely address on the blog, but it explains my feeling listening to Because Patterns (Aerocade Music 011). I get a distinct window on experiencing a piece of today that is electroacoustically enmeshed with what has happened in Electronica and the Post-Progressive in Rock, on one hand, soundscaping ambiance, and the whole spectrum of the Modern Contemporary Classical on the other.”

Read the rest of the review here.

Thank you Grego Applegate Edwards for taking the time to listen to and review Because Patterns!

"Because Patterns has it all" - I Care if You Listen

Many thanks to I Care if You Listen and Nick Stevens for taking the time to review Isaac Schankler’s Because Patterns!

Because Patterns has it all: killer liner notes, evocative performances from musical dream teams, and balance between coherence and variety. The impeccable recording, engineering, and mixing by Schankler, Vanessa Parr, Ben Phelps, Scott Fraser, Barry Werger, and others certainly help. Four years and eleven records into its existence, Aerocade Music can claim another victory with this release.”

- Nick Stevens, I Care if You Listen

Read the entire review here.

"The entire album is remarkable listening" - Sequenza 21 reviews Because Patterns

Thank you Paul Muller and Sequenza 21 for reviewing Isaac Schankler’s Because Patterns!

“The entire album is remarkable listening and represents a new benchmark of just how highly evolved the combination of acoustic instruments and electronics have become in the service of musical expression.”

- Paul Muller, Sequenza 21

Read the entire review here.

Isaac Schankler Album Release Concert in Los Angeles

Equal Sound presents:
Isaac Schankler Album Release & The Furies

April 4, 2019
8:00 pm
Art Share L.A. (801 East 4th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90013)

Equal Sound’s First Thursdays series at Art Share presents an album release concert for Isaac Schankler’s Because Patterns in a performance featuring collaborations with Vicki Ray, Aron Kallay, and Scott Worthington. Intersectional feminist performance art violin duo The Furies join the bill with their project A Cure For Hysteria, featuring the music of Elizabeth A. Baker, Eve Beglarian, Olga Neuwirth, and ThunderCunt.

All attendees will receive a free download of Because Patterns.

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/isaac-schankler-album-release-with-special-guest-the-furies-tickets-54837916685

Program

OLGANEUWIRTH ad auras...in memorium H.
THUNDERCUNT Incidental Music I
ELIZABETH A.BAKER A Cure For Hysteria
THUNDERCUNT Incidental Music II
EVEBEGLARIAN Well Spent

ISAACSCHANKLER Because Patterns

Interview with Isaac Schankler

We welcome Isaac Schankler to the Aerocade Music roster!
Read more about Isaac
here.

Isaac Schankler (Photo: Gabriel Harber)

Isaac Schankler (Photo: Gabriel Harber)


Meg Wilhoite previewed Isaac’s upcoming album Because Patterns and interviewed them to learn more about the album and their process.

In their aptly-named album Because Patterns, composer Isaac Schankler explores three approaches to creating and manipulating musical patterns, carrying out a full integration of electronic sonic environment, mathematical compositional procedure, and acoustic performance. The overall effect of the title track, “Because Patterns/Deep State,” is that of finespun electronic swells punctuated by the percussive sounds of the piano, performed by the Ray-Kallay Duo, who commissioned the piece. Incorporating a mathematical model called a cellular automaton, the musical patterns begin with a single seed and shift organically according to the rule assigned to it. As the title suggests, there is an element of Deep Listening in this piece—performed by double bassist Scott Worthington—as from minute 17:30 to 20:30 we settle into a sotto voce electronic hum that is present-only, with no sense of past or future. Subtly, quietly the piano returns, a distant echo from earlier in the piece, nestled deep within the electronic texture. 

The electronics and violin in “Mobile I” are interlaced by means of spectral analysis, as the electronic sounds are a reaction to violinist Sakura Tsai’s fragmented statements. The former keen and hum around the latter, creating the sense of a large, open structure in which the violinist is centrally situated. The final minutes of the piece shift to a more active texture, the electronics and violinist merging in polyrhythmic arpeggios. The final track, “Future Feelings,” performed by Nadia Shpachenko, features alternately swirling and languid piano figures overlaid with hissing static and Morse code-like blips panning between the ears. Later on in the piece, the electronics also provide occasional low, reverberant hums. While the piano hints at past styles of lush vibrations, the electronics pull the listener into the noise-filled, pulsating present.

Because Patterns  will be released on May 31, 2019.  Sign up for our mailing list to be notified when Because Patterns comes out.

Because Patterns will be released on May 31, 2019. Sign up for our mailing list to be notified when Because Patterns comes out.



Meg: Is Because Patterns a nod to Feldman’s Why Patterns

Isaac: It's a nod to the title more than the piece or Feldman's music. I always thought “Why Patterns?” was a strange kind of question, because really patterns justify themselves. We can't help but make sense of the world through patterns, through making connections between disparate things. That's one thing people and machines have in common too, and much of our lives is now mediated by patterns created by algorithms, for better or worse. So for a long time I’ve been interested in what happens when there’s too much or not enough information to truly discern a pattern. What happens when a person or machine starts seeing patterns that aren’t really there? So a lot of the piece Because Patterns/Deep State consists of gestures or motives that are moving either too quickly or too slowly to really get a handle on. So you have to make a decision about what's really important, and maybe in the end it's not the patterns? Maybe it's something else.



Meg: What program(s) do you use to make the electronic tracks? I'm particularly interested in the "ongoing spectral analysis" you mention for Mobile I. 

Isaac: I use a variety of things, but mostly Max/MSP for anything involving live electronics. The "ongoing spectral analysis" in Mobile I is basically a glorified pitch tracker that also detects harmonics, but what I liked about it for that piece is that it was a little unpredictable. It wasn't perfect, so sometimes you'd get the correct pitch, but other times you'd get another pitch that was related. So there were these microdeviations that you could use to create textures. If the pitch tracker worked perfectly the piece wouldn't be nearly as interesting. This is something I worry about actually, if the pitch tracker gets updated the piece might become obsolete. It’s also a tricky thing for the violinist to react to the electronics and remain on track, and I love the way Sakura Tsai plays it on the album, how it manages to feel improvisational and polished at the same time.



Meg: At what part of the compositional process do creating the electronics and writing the instrumental parts first meet? Do you generally start with one or the other, or do you develop the two strands concurrently?

Isaac: I wish it was more tidy, but often it's a kind of back and forth where the electronics will affect the instrumental material and vice versa, so sometimes the process takes a lot longer than I would like. Because Patterns was originally an acoustic prepared piano piece with plinky music box-like material that was composed with the help of some algorithms (specifically cellular automata). It was written for the Ray-Kallay Duo, and it demands a lot of precision and tight coordination from them. Deep State, which was written for Scott Worthington, is almost the opposite. It was originally a somewhat improvisatory piece with low bass drones being frozen and extended by electronics, and Scott provided a ton of valuable input that really shaped the piece. But while those pieces worked great live, they seemed strangely incomplete on a recording. We expect recorded music to saturate the frequency spectrum. Also the pieces seemed to be in dialogue with each other, working out some of the same kinds of ideas but at very different time scales. So I thought it would be fun to mash the pieces together, which made the mixing process vastly more complicated than I anticipated! I added a lot more electronic sounds after the fact, including sampled pianos that would frequently double the recorded pianos, bringing out different aspects of the sound like mechanical key noise, pedal resonance, things like that. For a while I had a lot of inner turmoil about whether or not I was allowed to do this, to ruin the real piano sound with "artificial" samples.



Meg: I'd love to hear more about your compositional process. For instance, in terms of the piano part, “Future Feelings” has a very Romantic vibe in places, particularly in terms of the figuration—how does music of the past inform your process? 

Isaac: That piece in particular is deliberately nostalgic, not just for Romantic era music but also for the time in my life when I was most engaged with that kind of music, i.e. an angsty teenager. At that time I wrote that piece my kid had just been born and it was really surreal to watch him react to music, to essentially discover music, and it brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings about the music that first really moved me. I was also thinking a lot about noise and the soothing effect noise has on babies, and I really wanted to make a quiet, soothing version of noise music. The first part of the piece is based around that, and the Romantic-inflected music gradually emerges from that texture. Nadia Shpachenko, who commissioned and premiered the piece, specializes in this kind of repertoire, and she really makes this part sound incredibly gorgeous. But I'm also suspicious of nostalgia, so there's a moment where that material cracks open, because in the end you can't really go back to that era. I guess it's fueled by a kind of hope and optimism that my kid, and by extension all people younger than me, will go beyond me in ways I can't even imagine. I want to see them break the patterns of the past.



Meg: Earlier you mentioned allowing yourself as a composer to double the pianos in the first track: Over the years as a composer, has there been anything you wish you could go back in time and tell your younger self?

Isaac: Oh geez, so many things! But I think most of all I wish I could tell my younger self to take the advice of my teachers and mentors with a grain of salt, and that it’s okay, even good, to go against their advice sometimes. I realize this is a slightly dangerous thing to say as a teacher myself. But I’ve found that a lot of composers, especially highly successful ones, have never really interrogated their own aesthetics and processes, and assume that they are universal ones. They then try and pass these biases on to students, instead of teaching students to listen to and develop their own instincts. I’m still trying to unlearn a lot of anxieties and hangups I internalized a long time ago, and it’s something that I hope the next generation of composers doesn’t have to deal with.


Meg Wilhoite (Photo: Katie Muffett)

Meg Wilhoite (Photo: Katie Muffett)

Meg Wilhoite is a writer, electronic musician, and former professional organist. For over a decade she blogged about the New York City new music scene, in addition to programming concerts and working with various collectives and ensembles. When she's not listening to and writing about new music she likes to program her beloved synthesizer.

"Shim is a superb soloist, her virtuosity seemingly endless."

Thank you Fanfare Magazine for another review for Meerenai Shim's Pheromone!

This article originally appeared in Issue 40:2 (Nov/Dec 2016) of Fanfare Magazine.

PHEROMONE • Meerenai Shim (fl); 1Jacob Abela (pn) • AEROCADE 001 (44:01)

FIELDSTEEL Fractus III: Aerophoneme. G. C. BROWN Huge Blank Canvas Neck Tattoo. O’HALLORAN 1Pencilled Wings. LAUSTSEN 60.8%. SCHANKLER 1Pheromone. M. J. PAYNE Étude for Contrabass Flute and TI83+ Calculator

This is an all-electroacoustic album. The inspiration was actually the first track, Fractus III: Aerophoneme (2011/12) by Eli Fieldsteel for “flute and live electronic sound”. Replete with extended performance techniques for the soloist and electronic sounds that seem primal in origin (the Supercollider software was used). There is also the feeling of great expanses around the ten-minute mark, while to the present writer at least the subsequent effects around eleven-twelve minutes in seem to evoke some sort of post-nuclear wind. Shim is a superb soloist, her virtuosity seemingly endless.

There is virtually no gap between the end of the Fieldsteel and the wonderfully titled Huge Black Canvas Neck Tattoo by Gregory C. Brown (2014). This piece, for alto flute and digital delay (using Ableton Live software) is, despite the images evoked by its title, much more approachable. Tape loops as used by Stockhausen spring to mind as the lines accrue and begin to interact and co-mingle; the very lowest register of this flute is so resonant it comes across as a bass flute, although only alto flute is credited. The busier sections are remarkably effective, as are the whimsical, flight moments elsewhere. The same software is used in Douglas Lausten’s 60.8% for bass flute and electronics (2014). The title refers to the unemployment rate in Greece and the piece is inspired by the hardship encompassing the Greek nation of late. The ghost of rebetiko music underpins the material, while the Greek flavor is unmistakable.

Elusive and soft textured, Emma O’Halloran’s Pencilled Wings, also of 2014, features pianist Jacob Abela (on a Yamaha concert grand). The soft-grained stereo playback audio file that underpins it all creates this relaxing ambience. The piece from which the album gets its name, Pheromone by Isaac Schankler (2014) is for flute (standard and bass), piano and electronics (MAX/MSP). The piano’s contribution is initially very gentle, and beautifully managed here; the piece gradually slows to a meditative space before inviting in frenzy.

Finally, Matthew Joseph Payne’s Etude for contrabass flute and TI83 Plus graphing calculator. Shim records audio directly from the calculator. There is a quite involved story of how the piece came to be a half-step lower and slower than the original because of a memory leak bus destroyed the original calculator part before the composer recorded it. What we really need to know, of course, is that the piece is phenomenal fun. Brief and to the point, it is also wonderfully unique in feel. Somewhat otherwordly, some might feel; others may find it links to computer game “soundtracks” (if so they could be called in those days) of the 1980s.

Colin Clarke

Pheromone: "wide-ranging in style and timbre, extraordinarily inventive, often wildly entertaining, and not for a minute dull"

Another great review for Meerenai Shim's Pheromone!

This article originally appeared in Issue 40:2 (Nov/Dec 2016) of Fanfare Magazine.

PHEROMONE • Meerenai Shim (fl); 1Jacob Abela (pn) • AEROCADE 001 (44:01)

FIELDSTEEL Fractus III: Aerophoneme. G. C. BROWN Huge Blank Canvas Neck Tattoo. O’HALLORAN 1Pencilled Wings. LAUSTSEN 60.8%. SCHANKLER 1Pheromone. M. J. PAYNE Étude for Contrabass Flute and TI83+ Calculator

As is often true of new music in the classical sphere this program is eclectic and owes as much to jazz, folk, and popular music, as it does to any tradition handed down through the concert and recital hall. All pieces are commissions, except the Eli Fieldsteel work, made by San Jose-based flutist Meerenai Shim for this first release on her new indie classical label, Aerocade Music. The music is all electroacoustic, with instruments ranging from the standard C flute to the behemoth contrabass two octaves lower. The electronic accompaniment is provided by a number of sources: fixed media, real-time audio synthesis using SuperCollider, Ableton Live, and Max/MSP, and the output from a Texas Instruments graphing calculator running sequencing software. (Who knew?) To those who do not follow electronic music, this may all sound like gobbledygook. Bottom line is that the electronics provide an orchestral palette of sounds, almost infinitely malleable, and capable of either responding within preset parameters to what the performer is doing, or creating a rich setting to which the performer can respond.

Received concepts of electronic music don’t apply. Expression of human emotions is very much the purpose, and it is in this that Shim, pianist Jacob Abela, and the various composers have excelled. Fieldsteel’s Fractus III: Aerophoneme, whatever the method used to achieve it, is a dramatic unfolding of cooperation, conflict, hope, and eventual dissolution with the electronics as the often menacing rival. Gregory C. Brown’s Huge Blank Canvas Neck Tattoo for alto flute and digital delay reflects on personal setbacks and triumphs in the composer’s life. In it, statements made by the soloist become the background—often enhanced—for future discourse. Emma O’Halloran uses a “tape” track and piano duo to accompany—and sometimes overwhelm—the flute’s fantasy flights in her Pencilled Wings. Douglas Laustsen’s 60.8% for bass flute and electronics ponders the devastating impact of unemployment on the youth of Greece since the imposition of austerity, using, as an inspiration, rebetiko, a once disreputable style of 20th-century Greek urban folk protest music. Schankler’s Pheromone deals, logically enough, with attraction and bonding, and Matthew Joseph Payne’s quirky Etude for contrabass flute and TI83+ calculator is, with its combination of low-res early video-game-like sounds and the mellow contrabass flute, two minutes of unadulterated nerdy delight.

Shim is an amazingly dexterous flutist, and works brilliantly with her electronics and her live keyboard collaborator. The sound is close, in the manner of popular music recordings, but it is appropriate to the music. Notes are minimal and hard to read in the type chosen, but are expanded to usefulness online at meerenai.com/pheromone. One small complaint: If Shim was offering “original cover” LP reissues at a few dollars a disc, I would say nothing about a timing of 44 minutes. But a new mid-price disc that is little more than half-full feels like short measure. Otherwise, that which is offered is wide-ranging in style and timbre, extraordinarily inventive, often wildly entertaining, and not for a minute dull. Pheromone is therefore warmly recommended to anyone who wants to explore some of the more accessible frontiers of new music and the alt.classical fringes of the flute repertoire. Ronald E. Grames