1-Bit Chamber Music

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Attend any number of experimental music performances in New York City and chances are you'll come across a curious sight: a skinny young man conducting conversations on a cordless rotary telephone, which accompanies him almost everywhere and is, practically speaking, his mobile phone. This fellow is none other than Tristan Perich, a talented young artist, composer and inventor whose interest in the foundational units of acoustic sound and digital electronics is manifest in his reclamation of obsolescent objects and technology - the rotary phone among them. For 1-Bit Music (2004), the project for which he is best known, Perich retrofitted a CD jewel case with an 8-KB microchip, battery, track control and headphone jack, thereby enabling listeners to plug in and hear 40 minutes of low-fi electronic music. Beyond the strange and marvelous nature of this apparatus, 1-Bit Music's compositions exhibited a surprising degree of sophistication, considering that they effectively comprise MIDI blips and bleeps that Perich wrote in binary code. For tonight's performance at the Whitney Museum, as part of its "Composers' Showcase," Perich will perform three recent compositions (two of them debuts) that find his 1-bit circuit boards accompanying piano, trumpets and violin. Building on Perich's background in math and computer science, Active Field (2007) endeavors to generate the sonic equivalent of a planar landscape, particularly at its conclusion, when ten violins and ten channels of 1-bit music sustain a single-chord, to the point where analogue and electronic sound cease to be differentiable. Far from more conventional applications of electronics as supplements to orchestral music, Perich's project finds the mediums engaged in a formative, structural dialogue. - Tyler Coburn

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