«Machines Can Only Dream of Mistakes». The One-Bit Music of Tristan Perich
Nuove Musiche Numero 6 - 2019, pagine: 27-39
DOI 10.12871/97888333957912 | @ Pisa University Press 2021
Pubblicato: 20 dicembre 2021
American composer Tristan Perich’s music is focused on the artistic, technological, and philosophical implications of the bit: the core atomic unit of the binary language of computers. Tristan Perich’s “one-bit music” is an exploration of the potential of binary language as a sounding compositional material. Using the low-cost ATMEL microprocessor as his instrument of choice, Perich’s catalog contains a surprising range of output, including the conceptual album, 1-Bit Symphony , large-scale electroacoustic works for instrumentalists, such as Surface Image and Drift Multiply, the conceptual book project, 0.01s, and a large body of visual art, including Machine Drawings. Throughout his oeuvre, the musical surface (or text or image) itself exposes the language of the digital bit as its central feature. The concept of exposure extends to the artist’s presentation of his work: concert stages full of raw speakers and wires, a compact disc jewel case containing a circuit and headphone jack in place of a compact disc. This essay provides an analysis of common features in Perich’s musical compositions, with focus on conceptual ties between the technological capacities of Perich’s chosen microprocessors and the composer’s minimalist compositional techniques when writing for acoustic instruments. Philosophical implications of microprocessor are considered: why eschew the computational power of a laptop to code music on an eight kilobyte chip? The composer’s particular answers to these questions, both in interview excerpts and musical examples, reveal an artistic practice balanced between control (precisely timed musical decisions) and wonder (the ocean of data produced per second inside the digital processors all around us).
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