1) The physical sensation of sound waves or “body resonance.”
2) A “head-change” (i.e. change in perception of one or more of the five senses).
3) The suspension of the awareness of time.
4) The feeling of profound elation.
Once these four principles were articulated, I had to find the means and methods to facilitate them musically.
1) High SPLs.
2) The mild use of marijuana while composing and before performance—which assists in the change of perception of the senses.
3) Sustained tones and/or “noise.”
4) The psychoacoustic phenomenon of “tuning” a space.
While the four aforementioned principles can happen in most musical experiences, I found that the use of high SPLs—along with the other three mentioned methods—help me achieve my goal more efficiently. With these principles and methods in mind, as well as everything that I had learned about the “activation” of connection with the Other, I began to compose what would become SlowBurn (For Four Electric Guitars) in January of 2008. As far as the compositional process is concerned, it was very different from the way I was used to composing. My general compositional strategy, up to this point, was to first consider the musical material (including instrumentation, placement of transcribed notes, points in the composition where improvisation is required, et al), transcribe said material, find the musicians to play the material, and rehearse. However, with SlowBurn I took what I thought would be the opposite of that: I chose the instruments, amplifiers, and signal processing equipment first and loosely wrote the piece around these chosen implements. I was writing for four particular electric guitars: a stock 1966 Fender Mustang, a 1998 Fender Telecaster with Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pickups, a stock Gibson SG, and an ESP Eclipse with EMG 81 pickups. The four particular amplifiers and speaker cabinets the piece was written around were: a 1966 “Blackface” Fender Bassman head through a GK 4-10 bass cabinet (to be used for the Fender Telecaster), an early 1980s Carvin X-100b head through a Marshall JCM 900 4-12 speaker cabinet (to be used with the Gibson SG), a 2000 Line 6 Flextone II 1-12 combo amplifier (to be used with the Fender Mustang) and a 2002 Roland BassCube 1-12 amplifier (to be used with the ESP Eclipse). Before each guitar’s signal would go to its corresponding amplifier it would first go through a series of signal processors: a small Behringer four input mixer, two Electrix Filter Queen low-pass filters, an Alesis Microverb III, and a Boss GX-700 multi-effects processor. These are not arbitrary combinations of instruments, amplifiers, and electronics; each was chosen for its particular resonation within the feedback loop.
released October 1, 2011
Recording by Stefan Smith
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