At any rate II. باقی مانده “what remains” – singing string quartet and record player (9′)
*Commissioned by National Sawdust for the JACK Quartet as part of their 2020 New Works Commissions
At any rate is a set of studies on vinyl records, each exploring a different record of cultural and historical significance, as well as the accompanying (and ubiquitous) noise inherently present with every type of record (33s, 45s, and 78s). What classifies certain records as “popular?” If the materials found on these records are taken apart, stretched, slowed, chopped, and reconstituted, do the parts still come together to make a whole “popular” work? What artifacts from these records manifest themselves in this process? Which are lost? What new artifacts are gained through this reconstitution? How much of a work is essential in realizing it as its original itself? Is timbre just as important to these recordings as melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic contours in this recognition and appreciation?
This second work in the set باقی مانده “what remains” explores one of the earliest releases of traditional Persian moosiqi sonnati, a record called Volkstümlicher Gesang – Persia collected by Erich Moritz von Hornbostel (1877-1935) and put out by Decca Records and Parlophone Co in 1931. Within this group of a few players and a vocalist heard on the disk, an entire world of intimate connections exists between those captured on this recording. I became obsessed with repeated listening to this record—at all difference speeds and attention levels—and the way in which this repeated listening drastically affected the way I heard and understood the music held within. This reminded me of the way that I listen to and consume music from Houston’s Chopped and Screwed scene, a codeine-influenced genre of Hip-Hop created by DJ Screw (RIP) which takes popular songs, chops them up, and slows them down through pitch-shifting.
We listen to things over and over, but the moments that excite me the most are those when something makes me change the way I listen, a moment I never noticed, or a new way of looking at something—a love letter.