The Squid's Ear Magazine

Kirschner, Kenneth / Joseph Branciforte: From the Machine: Volume 1 [VINYL] (Greyfade)

The first volume in an ongoing collaboration between composers Kenneth Kirschner and Joseph Branciforte, this work explores the application of software-based compositional techniques — including algorithmic processes, generative systems, and indeterminacy — performed in a superb ensemble including members of Flux Quartet and International Contemporary Ensemble.

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Kenneth Kirschner-composer

Joseph Branciforte-composer

Tom Chiu-violin

Wendy Richman-viola

Christopher Gross-cello

Greg Chudzik-double bass

Jade Conlee-piano

Mariel Roberts-cello

Meaghan Burke-cello

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Edition of 150 copies.

Label: Greyfade
Catalog ID: 002
Squidco Product Code: 30767

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
Recorded at Oktaven Audio, in Mount Vernon, New York, on April 9th, 2018, and April 12th, 2019, by Ryan Streber.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The first volume in an ongoing collaboration between composers Kenneth Kirschner and Joseph Branciforte, From the Machine explores the application of software-based compositional techniques - including algorithmic processes, generative systems, and indeterminacy - to the creation of new music for acoustic instruments. Featuring members of Flux Quartet and International Contemporary Ensemble.

Although digital approaches to music-making are most closely associated with the use of electronically generated (or modified) sound, computer-based composition opens up a vast space of possibilities beyond timbre, into fundamental questions of basic musical structure. Kirschner and Branciforte set out to explore some of these possibilities by adapting techniques from electronic composition - including algorithmic processes, generative systems, and indeterminacy - to the creation of new music for acoustic instruments.

From the Machine: Vol. 1 documents two pieces composed using software techniques, translated into traditional musical notation, and performed by acoustic ensembles: Kenneth Kirschner's April 20, 2015 for piano and two cellos and Joseph Branciforte's 0123 for low string quartet.

Kirschner's April 20, 2015 began its life as a completely electronic composition, constructed through the digital manipulation of fragmentary piano and string recordings. Using digital techniques such as time-stretching, looping, and recombination, Kirschner transformed a small amount of audio source material into a composition rich in gesture and intricate in form. In 2017, the piece was painstakingly reverse engineered by Joseph Branciforte, resulting in a fully notated score for small chamber ensemble. Although the digital domain is often associated with the rhythmic conformity of a fixed grid, Kirschner's compositional process unfolded in a free, entirely non-metric space. The primary challenge in adapting April 20, 2015 for performance was thus the need for a metric structure that precisely captured the emergent rhythms of the electronic composition, all while remaining intelligible to performers.

Recorded by pianist Jade Conlee and cellists Mariel Roberts and Meaghan Burke, the acoustic adaptation of April 20, 2015 brings a new level of nuance and a heightened sense of drama to a piece originally composed without the human performer in mind, while preserving the expanded sense of rhythmic, harmonic, and structural possibility that Kirschner unearthed in the digital realm.

Joseph Branciforte's 0123 is a generative work dedicated to the systematic exploration of a single four-note pitch cell - {0123}, a simple chromatic cluster - and the effects of its transformation through musical voice-leading. Composed entirely in the Max/MSP programming environment, the underlying algorithm derives the complete harmonic vocabulary of {0123} playable by a given set of instruments - in this case, a low string quartet consisting of double-bass, cello, viola, and violin - and defines rules for organizing and traversing the resultant data set. Beginning from the ensemble's lowest possible voicing, the piece ascends through a meticulously constructed voice-leading spiral with inexorable logic, spanning one octave of the double bass' range over its nearly 20 minute duration and forming a closed musical loop. Compositional parameters such as rhythm, tempo, and dynamics are all controlled by the same underlying data set. The result is a rigorously procedural work, one that ultimately enlists computer algorithms to mediate between the realm of pure mathematical possibility and its realization in musical space and time.

0123 was recorded by a distinguished ensemble consisting of violinist Tom Chiu (Flux Quartet), violist Wendy Richman (International Contemporary Ensemble), cellist Christopher Gross (Talea Ensemble), and double-bassist Greg Chudzik (Talea Ensemble).

An entryway into Kirschner and Branciforte's ongoing experiments with digitally mediated chamber composition, From the Machine: Vol. 1 also represents a point of departure for the greyfade label as a whole, which seeks to be a vital outpost for algorithmic and process-based music in the coming years. Whatever novel results lie ahead, Kirschner and Branciforte's first release provides a model for a music that is elaborately constructed, exactingly realized, and deeply personal all at once."-

Edition of 150 copies.

Artist Biographies

"Kenneth Kirschner was born in 1970 in Princeton, New Jersey, and began studying piano at the age of 5. Starting to study Composition at College briefly he found the academic atmosphere of the time (1988) to be too conservative and stifling, with little support for electronic music or for experimental approaches. He therefore gave up studying Music academically and moved to New York City to develop his work on his own. Kenneth spent the 1990s composing and developing his style, while doing occasional commissions for ballet and modern dance. [...]"

-Archive.Org (

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"Joseph Branciforte (b. 1985) is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, sound artist, and recording engineer based out of New York.

Branciforte's work provides an expanded definition of musical composition, where musical structure, sound source, and the recorded medium are treated as one and the same object. His wide-ranging musical activity spans electronic, algorithmic, and chamber composition, performance and improvisation on a variety of acoustic and electronic instruments, and an expansive discography as recording, mixing, and mastering engineeer. At the bottom of each of these seemingly discrete threads lies an relentless fascination with sound as a profound emotional medium - organized through musical form, articulated by a careful selection of sound sources, and framed through the act of recording.

In 2019, Branciforte founded the greyfade label in order to present album-length statements from artists exploring algorithmic composition, electronic minimalism, proceduralism, and alternate tuning systems. The label's inaugural release was LP1 (2019), a collaboration between vocalist & sound artist Theo Bleckmann and Branciforte on modular synthesizer, Fender Rhodes, and live electronic processing. The album was included on All Music Guide's Best Electronic Music of 2019.

As composer, Branciforte has developed a process of algorithmic composition for acoustic instruments using software of his own design. From The Machine, his ongoing collaboration with composer Kenneth Kirschner, investigates digital, generative, and procedural methods of composing for chamber ensemble. The project's first volume will be released on greyfade in 2021.

As recording engineer, Branciforte has lent his sonic touch to over 250 releases, working with some of the most well-respected names in creative jazz along the way, including Ben Monder, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Berne, Vijay Iyer, Nels Cline, Steve Lehman, Theo Bleckmann, Marc Ribot, Mary Halvorson, Nir Felder, and The Westerlies. His credits also include a wide range of alternative, electronic, and classical projects, from Son Lux and The Lumineers to JACK Quartet and The Oratorio Society of New York. In 2020, composer Paul Moravec's Sanctuary Road was nominated for a Grammy award. Albums he has produced, engineered, and/or mixed have been included in the NPR Jazz Critics' Poll Top 10 and Downbeat Magazine's Albums of the Year. His engineering and production work can be heard on ECM, Sony, Dualtone, Pi Recordings, Sunnyside, Ropeadope, Cantaloupe, New Amsterdam, and Naxos.

He works primarily out of greyfade studio, his private recording, mixing, and mastering space just north of New York City."

-Greyfade (

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"A noted champion of new music, violinist and composer Tom Chiu has performed over 200 premieres worldwide by influential composers such as Virko Baley, Julio Estrada, Oliver Lake, Alvin Lucier, Roscoe Mitchell, Somei Satoh, and Henry Threadgill, among many others. He has also worked closely with free jazz innovator Ornette Coleman, with whom he appeared at the Walker Arts Center in 2005. His extensive discography includes recordings for the Chesky, Innova, Koch, Mode, Sombient, and Tzadik labels. In a cross-discipline context Chiu has created new mixed-media works with choreographers Pam Tanowitz and Shen Wei, audio-video artists Phill Niblock and Elise Kermani, sculptor Ernesto Neto, conceptual balloonist Judy Dunaway, and director Lee Breuer from avant theater troupe Mabou Mines. A recipient of the Chamber Music America Commissioning Grant, he has dedicated new works to Joan La Barbara, Bobby Few, Max Mandel, the Downtown Ensemble, SLAVE PIANOS, and the OpenEnded Group, and these works have been premiered at experimental venues such as Roulette, STEIM Amsterdam, Experimental Intermedia, and the Museum of the Moving Image. He has also produced or designed sonic ambiance for special events, including gala openings at Park Avenue Armory, the Noguchi Museum, and the New York Times Building (designed by Renzo Piano). His extensive film credits further showcase his creative versatility: as composer, fiddler, voice-over artist, and actor (The Man With One Red Shoe, with Tom Hanks). Chiu holds degrees in chemistry and music from Yale and Juilliard, and has presented concerts and workshops at numerous universities, including Williams, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, and William and Mary. He appears frequently as a commentator on contemporary music and culture, and has served as a consultant in a variety of artistic contexts, most recently as a panelist for the NEA."

-Flux Quartet Website (

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"Wendy Richman has been celebrated internationally for her compelling sound and imaginative interpretations. As a soloist and chamber musician, she has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center Festival, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Miller Theater, Mostly Mozart Festival, Park Avenue Armory, Phillips Collection, and international festivals in Berlin, Darmstadt, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Karlsruhe, Morelia, and Vienna. Former violist of The Rhythm Method string quartet, Wendy is a founding member of the New York-based International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).

Hailed by The New York Times and The Washington Post for her "absorbing," "fresh and idiomatic" performances with "a brawny vitality," Wendy collaborates closely with a wide range of composers. She presented the U.S. premieres of Kaija Saariaho's Vent nocturne, Roberto Sierra's Viola Concerto, and a fully- staged version of Luciano Berio's Naturale. Upon hearing her interpretation of Berio's Sequenza VI, The Baltimore Sun commented that she made "something at once dramatic and poetic out of the aggressive tremolo-like motif of the piece."

Though best known for her interpretations of contemporary music, Wendy enjoys performing a diverse range of repertoire. She regularly performs with NYC's Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and has collaborated with fortepianist Malcolm Bilson, the Claremont and Prometheus Trios, and members of the Cleveland, Juilliard, and Takács Quartets. She has also been a frequent guest with the viola sections of the Atlanta Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and St. Louis Symphony.

Wendy is on the string faculty of New York University (NYU Steinhardt), where she teaches viola, chamber music, and a class on extended string techniques. She has also held teaching positions at the University of Tennessee, University of Alabama, and Cornell University, as well as NYU Summer Strings, Walden School Summer Young Musicians Program, Sewanee Summer Music Festival, and Music in the Mountains Conservatory.

Wendy earned degrees from Oberlin Conservatory (BM), New England Conservatory (MM), and Eastman School of Music (DMA). She studied viola with Carol Rodland, Kim Kashkashian, Peter Slowik, Jeffrey Irvine, and Sara Harmelink, and voice with Marlene Ralis Rosen, Judith Kellock, and Mary Galbraith.

Her debut solo album, vox/viola, was released in 2019 on New Focus Recording's TUNDRA imprint."

-Wendy Richman Website (

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"Following a recent solo performance, The Strad Magazine wrote about Christopher Gross: "The tone of Gross's cello enveloped the crowd [as he] showed energy and intonational accuracy, even when racing around the fingerboard." He is a founding member of the Talea Ensemble, which has appeared at major venues and festivals throughout the United States and Europe. He has also appeared as guest with ensembles including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Cygnus Ensemble, Argento Ensemble, Flux Quartet, and others. As a member of various ensembles he has appeared in recording on the Tzadik, Bridge, Albany, and New World labels. He is the founder of the project Cello Solos Today, which seeks to commission new contemporary works for intermediate cellists, and which recently received grants from New Music USA and the Juilliard Entrepreneurship Award ( He is a lead Teaching Artist of the New York Philharmonic, and has given workshops and classes at Harvard University, Brooklyn College, and the University of Sydney (Australia). He is currently on faculty at Lehigh University and in 2016-17 will be the Theodore Horger Artist-in-Residence at the school. He recently received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Juilliard in New York."

-New York Philharmonic (

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"Greg Chudzik is an active performer across numerous genres on the double bass and electric bass. Currently, he can be seen performing regularly with several new music groups, including Signal Ensemble, Wet Ink Ensemble, and Talea Ensemble. Greg is also a member of several bands, including Empyrean Atlas, Bing and Ruth, and The Briars of North America. He has worked with numerous influential figures in contemporary music, including Steve Coleman, Steve Reich, Pierre Boulez, George Benjamin, Helmut Lachenmann, Charles Wuorinen, Alex Mincek and Tristan Perich. Last January, Greg completed a tour opening for Jeff Mangum, formerly of Neutral Milk Hotel. Greg's recording credits include playing on the Grammy-nominated "Barcelonaza" by Jorge Leiderman, "Synovial Joints" by Steve Coleman on Pi Recordings, "Tomorrow Was the Golden Age" by Bing and Ruth on RVNG records, the album "Americans" by Scott Johnson (Tzadik records), multiple recordings with Signal Ensemble on New Amsterdam and Mode Records, the album "Grown Unknown" by Lia Ices (Secretly Canadian records), the album "Inner Circle" by Empyrean Atlas, and the album "High Violet" by The National on 4AD records. Greg's new album "Solo Works, Vol. 1" features original pieces of music written for bass guitar and electronics, and will be released this July on Panoramic Records."

-Greg Chudzik Website (

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"Jade Conlee is a pianist and music theorist pursuing a PhD at Yale University. In 2014, Jade was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study modernist and recent European repertoire at the Stuttgart Musikhochschule with Nicolas Hodges. While in Germany, she researched self-perception of aesthetic-political structures within Germany's nationally diverse contemporary performance community. Jade has given solo recitals of contemporary music in New York City and Berlin, and her writing has been published by Serpentine Magazine, Blatt 3000, and West 10th.

Jade has been a featured performer at festivals for contemporary music at the Banff Centre, Mannes, NEC, and June In Buffalo, where she shared a concert with Irvine Arditti. Jade completed her Masters degree in piano performance in 2017 at the University at Buffalo in the studio of Eric Huebner. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from NYU where she studied with Dr. Marilyn Nonken and completed a minor in creative writing."

-Jade Conlee Website (

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""Trailblazing" cellist Mariel Roberts (Feast of Music) is quickly gaining recognition as a deeply dedicated interpreter and performer of contemporary music. Recent performances have garnered praise for her "technical flair and exquisite sensitivity" (American Composers Forum), as well as her ability to "couple youthful vision with startling maturity". (InDigest Magazine). She holds degrees from both the Eastman School and the Manhattan School of Music, where she specialized in contemporary performance practice while studying with Alan Harris and Fred Sherry. Mariel is a performer of international reach who has played throughout the US and Europe appearing both as a soloist and with ensembles such as Signal, Wet Ink Ensemble, Dal Niente, SEM Ensemble, the NouveauClassical Project, and the Wordless Music Orchestra. Mariel's premeire solo album, nonextraneous sounds, was released on Innova Records in September 2012. The record, consisting of brand new works commisioned by Mariel, received high accolades from sources such as TimeOut NY, TimeOut Chicago, The American Composers Forum, New Sounds with John Schaefer, and WQXR radio."

-Mivos String Quartet Website (

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"Praised for her "alarming tour de force intensity," (The Examiner) Meaghan Burke is equally at home interpreting a wide array of contemporary music, improvising freely, or performing her own grunge-cabaret songs. Meaghan is a founding member of the contemporary, feminist string quartet The Rhythm Method, the bi-continental performance trio Dead Language, and avant-grunge band Forever House. Taking a particular interest in creative music, non-standard notation, and sound art, Meaghan has worked closely with artists such as Muhal Richard Abrams, Alvin Singleton, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Leah Asher, and Bernd Klug. She has been a guest artist with Fred Sherry, Lucy Shelton, Greg Saunier, and the FLUX Quartet (among many others), and has performed under Sir Simon Rattle and Peter Eötvös as a member of the Lucerne Festival Academy."

-The Rhythm Method Website (

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Track Listing:


1. april 20, 2015 21:18


1. 0123 18:58

Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Compositional Forms
Large Ensembles
Stringed Instruments
Piano & Keyboards
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
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