Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Simple machines. The concept fascinates me. The idea that there are simple physical mechanisms that can use leverage to multiply force is intriguing to me. The actual physics of "mechanical advantage" are more complicated than I care to explain (or could do justice to truthfully), but the product of levers and pulleys multiplying the magnitude of a force by any factor is very revealing of man's ingenuity in transforming his world. The idea that several simple machines in conjunction create a compound machine (think bicycle with its wheels and levers and pulleys) inspired my musical design for the new Rebel Wheel album, "Simple Machines" (that and i just love the sound of the term).

The idea here was to create a series of motives that would operate like simple machines, from which we would build longer form compositions (as opposed to say writing a series of pieces called "Screw" "pulley" "lever" or "wedge" say, all of which tend to evoke sexual connotations for me). Coming up with motives was easy, simply because of the visual aspect of a guitar neck and of how notes look on paper. If you visualize a root, a b5 and a m7th (say C, F# and Bb) as a shape on guitar it kind of looks like a wedge. If you think of a series of tri-tones stacked up (C, F#, C, F#) it looks like an inclined plane both on a guitar neck and on paper. If you take a pattern like C to C8va, to A (down a m3) to Bb (down a ma7) to F (up m6) to F# (up semitone) to C# (down a 4th) to D (up a semitone) and put it in motion, it looks like a screw. You get the idea: the actual note patterns are visual more than aural.

These then became the building blocks for the music (which is still being written) and as is always the case, these motives serve more like spring-boards for further machinations rather than hard and fast musical statements. In other words the simple machine cells can be altered traditionally (with techniques like retrograde, inversion, retrograde inversion, expansion, contraction, transposition etc. etc.) or freely.

This is always the fun part for me: taking small cells and fucking about with them. I myself am a simple machine.

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