The BADMINDTIME™ Digital Symphonies (1991-2005)

BMT(from program notes to the project on Archive.org, 2008):

So, this is an experimental audio project I created between 1991 and 2005.

One may describe the archive as a collection of dysfunctional, dystopian electro-acoustic or electronic folk musics, mashing together both pop and artsy perspectives. One may also see it as a parallel production with the visual and interactive archive with which it shared—initially—its name, BAD MIND TIME(tm). Many portions of the audio archive are excerpted throughout the multiple versions of that CD-ROM/web/DVD work; a few are included here in their entirety.

Much of this work is improvisational, most of it was a solo effort. Almost none of it exists in notation, some of it survives as multi-track MIDI files created in Opcode Studio Vision Pro, some has been exported to more contemporary sequencing software, but not very much.

In the current archive, no editorial knife has been pressed to the material. It can make itself vulnerable to much criticism for exactly that reason—yay! (Editor’s Note: I will edit this when I’m ded.)

The archive is made up of 13 or 14 volumes, each between 28 and 65 minutes in duration. Every volume contains several-to-many short pieces, some lasting a few seconds, some as long as 20 minutes. Often the pieces take the shape of an etude or study of a particular audio sample or set of samples. Throughout the first three volumes, an audio copy (or two or three) of the sample set used on the piece follows the piece.

As an audio archive, The Digital Symphonies reside on 19 DAT tapes; the first two or three volumes are DAT copies of material originally recorded on Dolby A cassette tapes.

At several points in the archive, longer sections have taken on separate identities as discrete works. Examples: Fallen Angels (in Volume V), Requiemette (in Volume VIII).Anagrams/Plastic Flowers (Volume VI) is not the Third Movement (Plastic Flowers) of my Cyborg Symphony™(1996)–that excerpt is taken from New Small Dances of Volume VIII. Volume X appears in two forms: one is a 30 minute compilation of Volumes I-IX, and the real Volume X (Bad Mix Time) is a six-channel work performed over three stereo systems in the Sound Alley exhibition that my performance ensemble Phobia Nova(tm) curated during the Atlanta Arts Festival of 1997. Material predating 1991 appears in Volumes III and V in the form of two copies (one dry, one wet) of my 1988 performance piece Chairs.

Naming the parts of the archive, and ordering them, poses additional challenges. There is no volume XII, but there is a volume 8.5 longer than (and seemingly distinct from) volume VIII. Also, there is at least one additional volume (altdocom_addendum) that clearly belongs to the archive, but doesn’t bear the BADMINDTIME(tm) imprimatur. Material created during (2002-2005) and after my opera ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY(tm) could be gathered within this archive, but those pieces tend to stand by themselves—such as MANATUA (2002), Sea of Happening(tm) (2003), Retro (2003), Granulatrix(tm) (2002), and Unstable Musics (2008). Many of these pieces found their way into the soundtracks of several video, cinema, and performance projects.

The archive weighs in at about 12 hours.

Post-Post-Script: The S-Word
The current thinking is to attach the S-Word (Symphony, or Symphonies) to this collection, for a number of reasons, and so I have. It adds a layer of arrogance and pretense to this endeavor (as perhaps best captured in the audio introduction above), so that’s always a good thing. And also, this will bring to mind other notions of the word symphonies (Obviously, Stravinsky’s use of the word, meaning to sound together, of course, Symphonies of Wind Instruments). And, yet, also (and suitable for a post-post-script) these are post-post-Modern musics: pushing out certain boundaries (as in, say, questionable taste in colliding popular and serious musics; some of the electronic experimentation), and not even bothering with others (as in, say, making a condescension to an actual performing, notation-based ensemble, i.e, the symphony orchestra). Symphonies of Digital Instruments?

(p.s, In case you’re wondering what I might have written for a real orchestra, there’s this piece, written when I was an undergrad. And, OK, this was 1979, right at the end of the disco era. And this is Maestro Raymond Harvey conducting the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in September, 1980, in the finale to my work, ‘Symphonic Moods’)

–JB

(The thirty  uncompressed .aiff files that (ranging in size from 6.5MB to  497.5MB) make up The BADMINDTIME™ Digtial Symphonies can be downloaded or streamed from the project page on Archive.org.)

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