Suite for Turntables and Piano — Considerations on classification and finishing the second movement

Updated 16 Mar 2022

So far writing for turntables feels most similar to writing for tuned percussion. There’s also a sense that it’s somewhere between an acoustic and an electronic instrument. Though what I’m working with (samples) are more on the electronic side, I’m writing for an instrument that produces sound via physical movement and instrument vibration as opposed to spliced tapes or synthesized sounds initiated by, crudely stated but with no pejorative intent, a button push. There is a spectrum of physicality with electronic music, and there is a spectrum of electronic music as it moves further away from a human body initiating the sound. Although this is the first electronic-adjacent music I’ve worked with, it’s been an experience more familiar than expected because of the turntable’s percussive provenance.

Suite for Turntables and Piano, 2. ich f├╝hle Luft, measures 143 to 159
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The Vortex

Years ago (again, who knows how many) Lisa and I were hanging out at The Vortex on a Sunday afternoon–something we had never done before up to that time (that is: hanging out at The Vortex, not just “hanging out”)–and watching American Ninja Warrior, which we knew existed and knew what it was but had never before watched because it’s kinda like reality TV. That Sunday was our first drinking Sunday: those ones that were meant to avoid Monday. There’s always a first.

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Suite for Turntables and Piano — Timbre and finishing the first movement

Composing this work has been no single process but rather an organic transition moving from process-to-process as I experiment to work out the challenges. I’ve had mixed success and the score has been more a battlefield than normal: I’ll need a new eraser for the next project. The only consistency in the compositional approaches is that I start with a general sketch of the turntables’ “phrasal intent” within a section and within the movement’s structure then, somewhat as a crutch, write the piano part with the vertical alignment of turntables and piano happening naturally.

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