Ambient Nouveau is a series of three ambient explorations begun while I was living in Champaign, Illinois. “1″ and “3″ were finished a couple of years later in the Fall of 2000. All three pieces represent a further refinement on the technique borrowed from Brian Eno that I have been exploring for several years now. The process involves the composer selecting a handful of notes as well as starting times and repetition intervals for each note. Assuming the composer does not choose simple (eg. integer) relationships for the repeat times, the varied “tempos” of each repeated note cause the individual parts to “phase in and out” of time with each other. What makes the process interesting is the unexpected melodies and harmonies created by the “unplanned” sequences and collisions of notes that result.
“1″ uses notes chosen from a natural minor scale based on D-flat. The original version had the notes more closely spaced together. When I revised the piece in 2000, I lowered and raised some notes by one octave, reordering the notes from lowest to highest in the process. I experimented with different sets of starting and repeat times by ear to acheive a final result that I found satisfying. “1″ was sequenced using Digital Performer on a Macintosh computer and performed on a Kurzweil K2500 Midi synthesizer. All parts were scored for a slow string instrument. “1″ is about 20-minutes long.
“3″ takes a slightly different approach by using sampled sounds instead of performing Midi notes on a synthesizer. I recorded myself singing eight different tones spanning over two octaves and chosen from a lydian scale with a D tonic. The sampled notes were then subjected to the same looping process as “1″ with careful attention paid to the initial entrances of each note. The piece has the effect of a small male chorus with each singer only performing one note independently of the others. The full version of “3″ was also created using Digital Performer and is over 30-minutes long. A short excerpt from the beginning of “3″ is provided for listening below as an MPEG file.
The middle piece of the series, “2″, is ironically still unfinished. Like “3″, it also explores looping sampled sounds but uses the sound of windchimes as musical material. “2″ was put on hold until I could obtain more windchime sets but is now just waiting for the “proper time to finish it.”