A 50-minute minimalist composition for quartertone bass flute and double bass in just intonation from composer Catherine Lamb, who refers to the tuning structure as "rational" intonation, the piece unmetered as the melody emerges almost imperceptibly; recorded in Andreaskirche, Berlin in 2019 and performed by Rebecca Lane (flute) and Jon Heilbron (bass).
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Label: Another Timbre
Catalog ID: at173
Squidco Product Code: 30027
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Andreaskirche, in Berlin Wannsee, Germany, in 2019, by Adama Asnan.
Rebecca Lane-quartertone bass flute
Jon Heilbron-double bass
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• Show Bio for Catherine Lamb
"Following interacting points within expanding harmonic space, Catherine Lamb has devoted her structural work to the inner life of tonality, constantly searching through the limits of human perceptions and resonances in overlaying atmospheres.
Lamb's continued series Prisma Interius (2016-ongoing), made with her partner and frequent collaborator Bryan Eubanks, filters the outside environment into a harmonic field, basso continuo, tanpura, or bridge between the musical form and the perceptual listening space. Her first orchestral work, Portions Transparent/Opaque (2014), was premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the 2014 Tectonics Festival in Glasgow, Scotland. After an extended tour of her solo work Shade/Gradient (2012) through North America in 2012, Lamb received a travel grant from the Henry Cowell Foundation, allowing her to pursue work with Eliane Radigue and to form new relationships with European musicians.Earlier in her career, Lamb studied under composers James Tenney and Michael Pisaro at the California Institute of the Arts, where she also met director and dhrupadi Mani Kaul. It was during this time that she began diving deeply into her own practice of what she later termed "the interaction of tone."
Lamb is the co-founder of Singing by Numbers (2009-11), an experimental vocal ensemble formed with Laura Steenberge that focused on pedagogical research around pure ratio tuning. She has written for ensembles such as Ensemble Dedalus, Konzert Minimal, the London Contemporary Orchestra, NeoN, Plus/Minus, and Yarn/Wire. Lamb is involved in ongoing research with Marc Sabat on intonation; with Johnny Chang on Viola Torros; develops work regularly with musicians such as Rebecca Lane, Dafne Vincente-Sandova, and Frank Reinecke; as well as taking part in Triangulum with Julia Holter and Laura Steenberge.
Lamb is the recipient of a fellowship from Akademie Schloss Solitude (2016); an Emerging Composers Grant from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode and William and Flora Hewlett Foundations (2008-09); and was a Staubach Fellow at the International Summer Course for New Music in Darmstadt, Germany (2016). Lamb's writings and recordings have been published by another timbre, Black Pollen Press, Kunst Musik, NEOS, THE OPEN SPACE Magazine, Q-O2, sacred realism, and winds measure recordings.She received a B.M. from California Institute of the Arts, and an M.F.A. in music/sound from Bard College."-Foundation for Contemporary Arts (https://www.foundationforcontemporaryarts.org/recipients/catherine-lamb)
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• Show Bio for Rebecca Lane
• Show Bio for Jon Heilbron
"Jon Heilbron is an Australian Double Bass player, improviser and composer, working within the areas of contemporary classical, improvised and experimental music. Jon has performed both as a soloist and with various groups in Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Denmark, Israel, Russia, Norway, Austria and Singapore.
As an interpreter of contemporary music, he has performed with Klangforum Wien (Austria), Apartment House (UK), Kammerensemble Neue Musik (Germany), An Assembly (UK), Ensemble Soundinitiative (France) Konzert Minimal (Germany) and Ensemble Schallfeld (Austria).
He has presented music at festivals including the Darmstädter Ferienkürse (Germany), Archipel Geneva (Switzerland), Wien Modern (Austria), Manifeste Paris (France), the Impuls festival, Graz (Austria), The Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music (Australia), SpinaFest in St. Petersburg (Russia) and the Multiversal Festival in Copenhagen (Denmark).
He is active within improvised and experimental music with his collaborative groups Ellipsis, Arches, DRUM and doubleFRAU, and is the founder of the Phonetic Orchestra, an ensemble made up of some of Melbourne's most innovative emerging Improvisers, composers and performers."-Jon Heilbron Website (http://www.jonheilbronmusic.com/about.html)
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1. Muto Infinitas 57:39
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"Muto Infinitas (2016/18) is an hour-long duo for quartertone bass flute and double bass, composed by the US-born Catherine Lamb, who is now resident in Berlin."-Another Timbre
Commentary on 'Muto Infinitas' by Rebecca Lane
"I have been slowly working on Muto Infinitas for 5 years (!) and it charts a large part of the development of my personal and musical life with Cat Lamb, and a personal practice in playing extended just intonation (or as Cat would prefer to say, rational intonation). Jon Heilbron and I consider this piece to be a work in progress - so it is in this spirit that we offer the recording.
The piece is an example of Cat's interest in the long introduction, which she expands harmonically and melodically over time. She mentioned to us that her hope was to create the perceptual experience where a melody emerges but the listener is not aware at which point it begins to do so.
The piece is unmetered - the double bass, as a sustaining instrument, follows the voicings of the flute, whose gradually diminishing breath lengths generate the movement from harmony to melody over around 60 minutes. However, it's an ambiguous zone between harmony and melody, consonance and dissonance, the individual timbre of our instruments and their timbral fusion.
We have made various formal and informal recordings of the piece over the years, which have helped to shape our interpretation of it. Attending to the interaction of the ratios (relative stasis) but also being responsible for illuminating the whole form (movement forward) through the placement of my tones/breath lengths is a constant negotiation that forces me to contemplate the micro and macro / vertical and horizontal aggregates simultaneously. (Though Cat has reminded me that the material is such that it exhibits multiple dimensions beyond simply the vertical and the horizontal.)
I can easily get lost in tuning the ratios, in discovering the nature of their interactions and internalising their aural picture. Listening back to a recording helps with refining the acoustic clarity of the ratios, but it also helps in perceiving the total form from the outside. Re-threading the piece, through the editing process, gave me the opportunity to perceive the total form, to see how we might change the way we play it live in order to unfold the perceptual space that Cat is seeking. So the piece is a framework into which Jon and I hope to go deeper and deeper. We look forward to performing it again and again and seeing how our interpretation and listening evolve further.
The origins of the piece lie in 2016 when Cat, Mike Majkowski and myself received a small grant for Cat to develop a piece with us. Muto Infinitas gradually took shape over around a year; Mike and I met with Cat once or twice a month and each time she would bring the next section of her piece, which we would workshop together. Cat's working process is never dogmatic or pedagogical, and she gave us space to find our own way into the material. The development period and first performance was with Mike, then in 2017 Jon and I began to work on it together and have performed it a handful of times since then.
Cat wrote Muto Infinitas for my Eva Kingma quartertone bass flute which I had just bought at the time, and through the piece we discovered its microtonal capabilities. I never play it as an equal temperament quartertone instrument, but the extra keys are paramount because they increase the instrument's microtonal flexibility. I find the fingerings that get me closest to a particular frequency and then move closer to it using vowel formants, air speed and embouchure - techniques I began to develop while working on the piece. I like to think of myself as a frequency producer rather than a flute player, finding freedom through numbers - Cat's scores often indicate ratios, cents, frequencies or partial numbers. Re-approaching melodic material from this angle helps me to put aside the historical baggage of my instrument and find pleasure in melody again.
Cat and I first met in 2013 when a mutual friend, artist-poet Natalie Häusler, suggested I meet her. I realised that I had already seen Cat perform with others (Johnny Chang being one), and had had the strong intuition (which doesn't happen often!) that I should play with her. We finally met in the toilets at Ausland - I guess we were immediately comfortable! The following year I played a piece of hers called Frame, also for bass flute, and it was a turning point for me. I realised that you could actually focus your musical imagination on acoustic perception, on the inner nature of tonal relationships - an aspect that had been a fleeting experience in the music I had played up until that point. I admire Cat greatly because her approach to composing is intuitive and rigorous but, put plainly, it is also deeply joyful, as is her warmth and generosity in sharing her knowledge of the material."
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