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At the next level, the listener may want to know where these strange sounds come from. Warren Burt is an American experimentalist who has lived in Australia for most of the last thirty years. His music is varied but is typically driven by the working out of abstract processes and by the potentialities of made or found instruments.
And so it is here. The instrument in this case is a set of large aluminium tuning forks, constructed by the composer in 1985 under an Australia Council grant. They are set up so that they can be played with mallets and each produces a very pure, long-sustained tone, amplified in the case of the lower forks by a tuned resonator. The closest conventional analogue is a vibraphone with the motor disconnected, but it would be a vibraphone with a surprising number of bars: Burt opted for nineteen notes per octave in just intonation, not our usual twelve in equal temperament, so that more pure harmonies are available to him.
Warren Burt and Catherine Schieve are the performers on disc 1. They recorded Burt's semi-improvised score in three layers which the composer then superimposed in the mixing studio to realise the complete work (which means, incidentally, that there can never be a live performance). Disc 2 is another, computer-modified, realisation of the same recordings.
Copyright © 27 March 2007
Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia