Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beauty Contest

For JHCompo on Tuesday I selected “Hedge Maze” as the theme, which brought about an eclectic assortment of entries. nikola’s arpeggios rose out of silence to a tune that would not be out of place in a 8-bit dungeon. chunter similarly swooped in gradually, this time with rush of white noise and an unusual time signature. mv once again prepared a multi-textured, densely produced piece using filters and glitch for his “Prison”. Jarski inexplicably accompanied his electronic entry with a photo of a pair of insects fighting, and ended with a bit of woodwind. Xarnax42 offered layered strings bounded to gentle percussion and a wah-effected lead. StatusD took the opportunity to compose his track using KORG DS-10, meeting the challenge of the working with limited software. MandraSigma worked his vocals into a synth-rocking song wondering, among other things, “Where is the outside?” madbrain appeared at the last minute with a flourish of cor anglais and brass that lasts twenty seconds. Finally SonicThHedgog was unable to turn off his swag, which caused the second half of his submission to blast above zero decibels.

The Sonic Amateur Games Expo debuted earlier in the week, and with it came the SAGE 2011 Composition Contest. The premise for the compo involved creating music suitable for a nonexistent video game level, in this case a Factory Zone for Sonic the Hedgehog. DJEAR stepped up to create breakbeat funk replete with vocal utterances of "static!" and sax-filled breakdowns. tentril kept it simple by his own words, laying down drum riffs and bass that rolls along at the speed of guitar leads. AeroGP made a tune in conjunction with DJEAR paying tribute to the sounds of the Sega Genesis with over-the-top e-shredding. Shadix lamented the incompleteness of his work, but managed a dense cluster of vintage 16-bit chips.

Thursday's OHC settled upon a ""Natural beauty" theme including a pair of images to spur the imaginations of the participants. Following my narration, frkygp served up reverb-drenched chords punctuated by silence and eventually drums. nikola stated that his synths lacked lubrication, but sent otherwise smooth ambient work that picks up an energetic pace. Arcana conducted his string section samples with the aid of an electro beat including extended oboe melody. DDRKirby(ISQ)'s track starts off with the ebb and fade of chiptune and builds several lo-bit harmonies. Bren appeared and submitted his signature chord changes, this time "about a good dragon instead of an evil one." SupaSpeedStrut built his piece around a default kick and a Korg unit for a session of warm distortion. ShrackAttack, like other entrants that night, leaned in favor of violins to express beauty and rose to great heights of pitch before ending.

sci took the sounds of nature and set it to rhythm for his entry accompanied by dollops of e-piano. CJthemusicdude set the mood for his track immediately with a bowed chord joined by harp and then alternating while choir wafts in. munchi on the other hand began with a steady buzz of synth followed by sped-up speech and a quirky backing music. Usabell found beauty in nature and expressed such with a low soundbed complemented by riffs that dance along the high end of the spectrum, and percussion that arrives halfway in. Forty-Two used minimal piano chords to signify the sun setting, filling out the sonic space with pads and xylophone. MandraSigma performed DEFRAG via extensive glitch effects and an array of electronic sonorities. At the end of the listening party, Acuity noticed the leaves drifting as he ran home for compo carrying his strings, kick drum and snare in a sack with him.

When I stumbled upon an artists whose work inspires me, I tried to learn as much as possible about that artist's background. I want to know how and why they make their art. My goal in doing this is to gain insight, in the hope that it would give me perspective regarding my own output. Among other things, compo provides an inviting way for artists to share their knowledge, and this is a blessing considering the many inspiring artists who participate.

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