Nathan Bibb

Music

Below is a list of recordings of my music:

Works for Tone Generator (2001-2004)

Works for Tone Generator was written for Timothy Mills as part of an interactive multimedia presentation called Puddles. The pieces are miniatures that were hand crafted from sine wave tones generated in just intervals. Although the pieces are each under 3 minutes, they were a total pain to put together.

Lament (2003)

Lament was written for Ea Juun Hwa to accompany his dance Fall Up. It was originally titled Sustained Tonal Study 1 for flute, trumpet, and electromagnetically driven strings, which is a fancy (pretentious?) way of saying "Long Drone Piece for flute, trumpet, and guitar with ebow." The name was changed after the only performance on February 2, 2003 when I found out the Lou Harrison died that same day. The piece is dedicated to Lou.

For Ea Juun Hwa (2002)

For Ea Juun Hwa was written for the Juun's solo dance in passing. Juun commissioned the piece in January 2002. One minute of silence precedes the music as part of the dance performance.

Improvisation for Valerie Norman (with Jason Schoch, 2002)

These recordings were commissioned by Valerie Norman for her solo improvisatory dance Readymade. The piece was originally performed in January 2002, and was recorded at my home in Brooklyn later in 2002 for a second performance of the dance where the recording was played.

Prepared Blank Tape (with Jason Schoch and Matt Renfroe, 2001-2002)

Jason and I were drinking at our local pub, Sparky's, one night, and we were discussing the music of John Cage. Specifically his prepared piano. Then the idea struck us, between fits of laughter, to create a piece for "prepared blank tape" by gluing magnet filings to a cassette tape and playing it through an old tape deck belonging to Apryl Hand. Apryl was luckily out of town, so we vowed to follow through with our idea that weekend.

The next morning, we went to a hardware story in Manhattan and bought a giant magnet and two metal files. We had no idea what to expect from our experiment, hoping somehow for some type of dissonant but musical sound to be created. Of course once we got the magnet filed, glued to a tape, and playing in the tape deck, we heard the most god-awful noise you've ever heard. We recorded 10 snippets of sound onto Jason's laptop, each 5-10 seconds each.

From these snippets, we were each to create an 8 and a half minute piece, originally for release on a mini-cd. Eventually our friend Matt asked to join in, and three pieces of music were created from what must be considered aural garbage.

Detritus (2001)

These are the distilled remains of many practice sessions. They were recorded during the period just after the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. The air in Brooklyn at that time (where my wife, then fiancé, were living) was very smoky and rotten, so I spent a great deal of time indoors. It was a time of great clarity, perhaps through shock, and I think the music reflects this.

"For Laura" was written for my fiancé, Laura DiGise, and was the first piece of music I wrote down in standard notation. This version for guitar was adapted for organ, and was played during the bridesmaid's procession of our wedding on June 23, 2002.

The "Solo Guitar" and "Solo keyboard" pieces were taken out of longer improvised practice sessions. I am hoping one day to dissect them and work them perhaps into larger compositions.

"Shock and Discord" is my attempt to recreate the physical sound I heard in my head the morning of Sept. 11. For a period of 45 minutes or so, I couldn't get in touch with my wife, who works within a mile of where the towers once stood. I was in complete shock, and heard a very distinct rumbling in my head, all around me. This piece consists of 4 bowed electric basses and an acoustic guitar played with an ebow.

tones(a)tones (2001)

After seeing probably the most influential live show of my life, Tony Conrad, Arnold Dreyblatt, and Jim O'Rourke at Tonic, I decided I wanted to build a piece of music on top of one long drone. As I was recording this, I accidentally plucked another sting on the guitar. This string was slightly out of tune, and I could distinctly hear the beats that resulted from this "out of tuneness." This really began my study of intonation and long tones.

Tones(a)tones was composed in a similar fashion as softshoeballet - mapped out on graph paper and a dry erase board. The instrumentation was acoustic guitar and bowed electric bass. Each part lasted approximately the entire running time of one cassette on my MT120 4-track cassette recorded.

Softshoeballet (2000)

Definitely the turning-point piece of my fledgling musical life, softshoeballet emerged as a concept for me shortly after moving to Brooklyn on June 13, 1999.
At the time, I was holding out hope for "making it" as a singer-songwriter.
Softshoeballet was going to be a series of songs, with lyrics, etc. By the onset of Autumn, I was almost broke, still sleeping on the couch of Jason Schoch and Apryl Hand, and realized that there was no way I could make a living for myself in New York with my handful of mediocre songs. At one point, I sat down and consciously decided to give up on music altogether.

Somehow, this decision freed me in a way that I still don't fully comprehend.
Softshoeballet became something else, and as Jason began introducing me to the works of some of New York's many composers (most prominently Morton Feldman), I began to see the music as a "composition."

The structure of softshoeballet is really more of a collage than a composition.
It consists of many field recordings, made on the minidisc recorder my wife (then girlfriend) bought me for my birthday, as well as some melodies played on guitar and keyboard (my temperamental Korg DSS-1). Most of the keyboard parts were made from glitches in the sampling process (it was Korg's first, and for a long time only, sampling keyboard, ca. 1984), so they will never again be duplicated in all likelihood.

The thing that distinguishes softshoeballet for me as my first "composition" is that I mapped the entire piece out before and during the recording process. I used a dry erase board, and labeled section with the names I gave to separate melodies or samples. This piece will probably always be an ethical problem for me, though, as some of the best musical parts (the accordion at the end of part one in particular) were subway musicians whom I secretly recorded.

Distant Travels in a Tiny Room (1998)

I really like this recording. I did it one Sunday afternoon, starting with an acoustic guitar and an ebow. Then I added my two string violin, then the sampled Gamelan (the only non-acoustic instrument, but it was played live, not sequenced), the tin whistle, the plucked guitar, and the extra sounds. It was a lot of fun to make.

This is a watershed recording for me, as it marks the point when I stopped writing songs with lyrics and standard structures and started to really explore sound. The instrumentation here is still influential to me, and the moment I finished it, I knew I had started something new. It was also the first acoustic recording I made after years of trying to deal with MIDI.

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