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Old 08-17-2009   #1
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Question Dr. Locrian's Asylum symphony/EP

Hello, folks! This is the first time I've really posted here, and I feel a bit awkward breaking my silence to promote something I've done. Nonetheless, here we go:

I am absolutely obsessed with "Dr. Locrian's Asylum." I have a weird fascination with all things concerning mental hospitals, especially as they are portrayed in fiction...and "Dr. Locrian's Asylum" is one of the finest depictions of the transcendental extent of madness I've ever read.

As an electronic musician, most of my compositions have been inspired by stories that I've read. My band, Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos (whose content is explicitly based in the writings of HPL), released two EPs of music based on the writings of Caitlin R. Kiernan, and I alone have written a number of pieces inspired by such authors as Samuel Beckett, Charles Stross, Franz Kafka, and many others.

Now I've turned my attentions to "Dr. Locrian's Asylum" and have been putting together a 4-part symphony/EP of music to provide a sort of "soundtrack" to the story. I've several movements plotted out and have just started composing/programming them. Now, normally, I wouldn't post anything about this until I actually have some music to go with it, but I wanted to announce this early so that fellow Locrian fans can comment if they like and mention any ideas they may have concerning music for this story!

I'll have some samples of the works in progress in about a week. In the meantime, feel free to check out some of my other stuff at the following links:

On Soundcloud.
On crappy old MySpace.
On my own website.

Everything I do is released via Creative Commons attribution licenses. I'm not looking to get rich here, just to write some stuff that other folks can enjoy and chop up/remix/play with however they see fit. Also, I really like getting feedback, so if you've any compliments, criticisms, etc. feel free to contact me at any of the above sites or here as well....

Oh, and of course, the "Dr. Locrian" pieces are all in Locrian mode. ;)

Derek C. F. Pegritz |
PEGRITZ(.com)!: Music, Footnotes to the Human Species, Nonfiction |
Musical Offerings: DCFP, Nyarlathotep, Retar-D2, A Doctrine of Works |
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Old 08-18-2009   #2
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Re: Dr. Locrian's Asylum symphony/EP

Would you call these audio works "music"? Or are they basically improvisation? I mean, do you have something written on a paper that could be reproduced somewhere else? Or are they just sounds that come and go according to what was on your mind at any given moment? I just listened to about 10 tracks, with some of them I felt like being somewhere else. Two tracks brought to my mind "trance" music. One of them was "#### you, Melissa". Do all these audio works have some idea behind? Like Pierre Schaeffer or Xenakis, or is it just an experiment, or something like that? In short, it was quite interesting. Although, to be honest, not the music I love. It would also be interesting if you could explain your own definition of music. I mean, do you consider that the wind is making music by blowing on the strings of an aeolian harp?

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Old 08-18-2009   #3
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Re: Dr. Locrian's Asylum symphony/EP

Alberto--thanks for taking a look at my previous works and asking so many excellent questions concerning them! I'll lay out my basic theory of music here in order to answer all of them at one time:

I listen to every kind of music known to humanity and several genres that may be alien in origin. *Heh* Hip-hop, ambient, blues, metal, jazz, classic rock, progressive rock, garage rock, postrock, indie, pop, alternative, electronic...I tend to like damnear everything, though I do have a marked preference to New Wave/post-punk and avant-garde electronic works. At any rate, my theory of music is very simple: music is structured sound. And that's it.

Normally when writing a piece of music myself, I tend to carefully place each and every tone or sound for a desired effect. Even my more amorphous ambient experiments which may just sound like smeared drones and random clanking are built on a skeleton of some preconceived notion, however loose that framework may be. Even improvisational works (and I'm actually VERY bad at improvising) end up having some kind of structure or concept behind them, however minimal.

Lately, I've been working with music that combines tightly-structured classical composition (i.e. recognizable melodies and instruments) with more free-form, shapeless synth sounds--a palette that together forms a song much like H. P. Lovecraft formed a story: there's a certain recognizable plot (that is, melody) immersed in all manner of creepy atmospherics. In all of the "Dr. Locrian's Asylum" tracks there are elements that could be easily transcribed for playing with just about any real-world instrument and elements that are entire artificial; blend the two together and you've got an interesting combination that is both catchy and memorable but also weird and atmospheric at the same time.

Derek C. F. Pegritz |
PEGRITZ(.com)!: Music, Footnotes to the Human Species, Nonfiction |
Musical Offerings: DCFP, Nyarlathotep, Retar-D2, A Doctrine of Works |
"What things had they seen, to give them such...wisdom?"
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Old 08-18-2009   #4
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Re: Dr. Locrian's Asylum symphony/EP

Before the existence of the internet (as it is now), from 1992 to 1995, I had a friend who introduced me to Classical Music in the 20th century, like Stockhausen (for example: Stimmung), Glass, John Cage, to name just a few. Not many CDs could be found in the market. But, as I grew old, I'm 42 now, I like more conventional music, sadly. But I'm still tempted to listen to Arvo Part, Glass (again), and others. Some of your audio works I found them to be good indeed. With others, it's like traveling to an alien world. You have a very interesting idea of what music is. Excellent.

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Old 08-19-2009   #5
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Re: Dr. Locrian's Asylum symphony/EP

I'm a big fan of Stockhausen, Arvo Part, et. al. as well. I'd have to say that their "classical" works are all a thousand times more interesting than almost anything else referred to as classical. Admittedly, I love a good melody, so I'm quite fond of Bach, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Beethoven, and other pre-20th-Century composers...but, still, I find most classical music to be utterly dull. Longer works, especially.

The reason is that most classical music is faaaaaar too formal for my tastes. Music is supposed to flow and breathe, to go where it wants to go--to develop according to the feedback loop established between composer and composed...not to be determined by a buttload of stupid rules set down by some centuries-dead Italian and German noodlers. I generally like music that makes its own rules, and then proceeds to break them! There's nothing inherently wrong with sonata forms, or pop music's A-B-A-B-A-A songwriting patterns--I just happen to favour music that is less...overly-structured.

Derek C. F. Pegritz |
PEGRITZ(.com)!: Music, Footnotes to the Human Species, Nonfiction |
Musical Offerings: DCFP, Nyarlathotep, Retar-D2, A Doctrine of Works |
"What things had they seen, to give them such...wisdom?"
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Old 08-24-2009   #6
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Re: Dr. Locrian's Asylum symphony/EP

Quote Originally Posted by Pegritz View Post
I'm a big fan of Stockhausen, Arvo Part, et. al. as well. I'd have to say that their "classical" works are all a thousand times more interesting than almost anything else referred to as classical. Admittedly, I love a good melody, so I'm quite fond of Bach, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Beethoven, and other pre-20th-Century composers...but, still, I find most classical music to be utterly dull. Longer works, especially.

The reason is that most classical music is faaaaaar too formal for my tastes. Music is supposed to flow and breathe, to go where it wants to go--to develop according to the feedback loop established between composer and composed...not to be determined by a buttload of stupid rules set down by some centuries-dead Italian and German noodlers. I generally like music that makes its own rules, and then proceeds to break them! There's nothing inherently wrong with sonata forms, or pop music's A-B-A-B-A-A songwriting patterns--I just happen to favour music that is less...overly-structured.
My sentiments exactly. But what's more: Have you ever been in a band and tried to put those things forward? (And by that, I mean being the only non-rock-inclined person in the room.) It's a terror; Reference anything more arcane than Les Claypool and you're screwed...

"And into his dreams he fell...and forever."
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Old 08-24-2009   #7
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Re: Dr. Locrian's Asylum symphony/EP

Quote Originally Posted by The Silent One View Post
My sentiments exactly. But what's more: Have you ever been in a band and tried to put those things forward? (And by that, I mean being the only non-rock-inclined person in the room.) It's a terror; Reference anything more arcane than Les Claypool and you're screwed...
Actually, I have worked with rock instrumentalists a number of times--guitarists, drummers, bassists, etc.--and I always come back to one band when explaining weird musical textures and evolutions, one band that embodies in your most basic rock band form (guitars, bass, drums) the experience of sheer musical adventure: Tool.

Now, just about any prog-rock band could be referenced, as well--especially those very heavily-influenced by sci-fi and futurism, like Emerson Lake & Palmer and Rush--but a lot of prog bands also employed synths and other weird effects to create the atmosphere of their music. (An absolutely perfect example of prog's blending of synths and traditional rock instrumentation is Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine," which is probably my all-time favourite Floyd track.) Tool, however, just uses plain ol' rock instruments to create music that sounds like metal being performed by posthuman cyborgs from the Year 2112. So when I'm trying to explain an outre musical concept to musicians whose minds have been fettered by too much conventional stricture, I always start with Tool. They're a great example of how even "standard" instrumentation can be used for very experimental purposes.

There are also a number of so-called "post rock" bands like 65daysofstatic and Godspeed! You Black Emperor who do rather similar stuff, though they do also go beyond "real" instruments and get into the use of synths. I usually use these kinds of bands as a "bridge" between Tool and more orchestral prog-rock. I've turned a lot of people on to prog and weird metal and other adventurous genres by starting them out with Tool's "Sober" (a complete and utter jam) and moving up to something really convoluted and weird like "Schism" or "10,000 Days (Wings Pt. 2).

Me, I love working with real instruments and other players...but the logistics of getting the right people together at the right times to record stuff--and the right times for me are usually 3 or 4 in the morning--is a major bitch. So I end up doing everything myself using synths. I'm basically an electronic musician because I'm too lazy to organize anything else and too arthritic to actually play anything requiring more dexterity than, say, a kalimba or a djembe.

Derek C. F. Pegritz |
PEGRITZ(.com)!: Music, Footnotes to the Human Species, Nonfiction |
Musical Offerings: DCFP, Nyarlathotep, Retar-D2, A Doctrine of Works |
"What things had they seen, to give them such...wisdom?"
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Old 10-03-2009   #8
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Re: Dr. Locrian's Asylum symphony/EP

Quote Originally Posted by Pegritz View Post
Quote Originally Posted by The Silent One View Post
My sentiments exactly. But what's more: Have you ever been in a band and tried to put those things forward? (And by that, I mean being the only non-rock-inclined person in the room.) It's a terror; Reference anything more arcane than Les Claypool and you're screwed...
Actually, I have worked with rock instrumentalists a number of times--guitarists, drummers, bassists, etc.--and I always come back to one band when explaining weird musical textures and evolutions, one band that embodies in your most basic rock band form (guitars, bass, drums) the experience of sheer musical adventure: Tool.

Now, just about any prog-rock band could be referenced, as well--especially those very heavily-influenced by sci-fi and futurism, like Emerson Lake & Palmer and Rush--but a lot of prog bands also employed synths and other weird effects to create the atmosphere of their music. (An absolutely perfect example of prog's blending of synths and traditional rock instrumentation is Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine," which is probably my all-time favourite Floyd track.) Tool, however, just uses plain ol' rock instruments to create music that sounds like metal being performed by posthuman cyborgs from the Year 2112. So when I'm trying to explain an outre musical concept to musicians whose minds have been fettered by too much conventional stricture, I always start with Tool. They're a great example of how even "standard" instrumentation can be used for very experimental purposes.

There are also a number of so-called "post rock" bands like 65daysofstatic and Godspeed! You Black Emperor who do rather similar stuff, though they do also go beyond "real" instruments and get into the use of synths. I usually use these kinds of bands as a "bridge" between Tool and more orchestral prog-rock. I've turned a lot of people on to prog and weird metal and other adventurous genres by starting them out with Tool's "Sober" (a complete and utter jam) and moving up to something really convoluted and weird like "Schism" or "10,000 Days (Wings Pt. 2).

Me, I love working with real instruments and other players...but the logistics of getting the right people together at the right times to record stuff--and the right times for me are usually 3 or 4 in the morning--is a major bitch. So I end up doing everything myself using synths. I'm basically an electronic musician because I'm too lazy to organize anything else and too arthritic to actually play anything requiring more dexterity than, say, a kalimba or a djembe.
You just keep hitting the nail on the head!

The part that really annoys me is the fact that they do listen to the kind of music you describe; unfortunately, when I try to put forward playing anything like that, I seem to get shot down, primarily by our bass player, because, he claims, "we aren't skilled enough." Unless I'm telling him to lower the distortion on his amplifier... Or criticising him in any way, even constructively. Then he gets incredibly defensive.

Ironically, his use of effects on his instrument is actually quite often very creative. He just uses them all the time. Our guitarist, on the other hand, simply refuses to use them at all, which makes everything sound somewhat cluttered and lopsided.

Thankfully, we've been addressing all of these issues to varying extents...

I hope I don't go insane before they're resolved. I really do.

P.S. The instruments you mentioned towards the end of the post intrigue me greatly; the kalimba, in particular, is a truly wonderful artefact. Speaking of awesome ethnic miscellany, have you ever happened upon a bonang set?

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Old 10-04-2009   #9
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Re: Dr. Locrian's Asylum symphony/EP

Quote Originally Posted by The Silent One View Post
The part that really annoys me is the fact that they do listen to the kind of music you describe; unfortunately, when I try to put forward playing anything like that, I seem to get shot down, primarily by our bass player, because, he claims, "we aren't skilled enough." Unless I'm telling him to lower the distortion on his amplifier... Or criticising him in any way, even constructively. Then he gets incredibly defensive.

Ironically, his use of effects on his instrument is actually quite often very creative. He just uses them all the time. Our guitarist, on the other hand, simply refuses to use them at all, which makes everything sound somewhat cluttered and lopsided.

Thankfully, we've been addressing all of these issues to varying extents...

I hope I don't go insane before they're resolved. I really do.

P.S. The instruments you mentioned towards the end of the post intrigue me greatly; the kalimba, in particular, is a truly wonderful artefact. Speaking of awesome ethnic miscellany, have you ever happened upon a bonang set?
Skill has very little to do with making progressive, interesting, inventive music. I know many an instrumentalist--guitarists, pianists, flautists, you name it--who are incredibly skilled players...yet all they play is, well, covers of others' work, or stuff that is very obviously derivative of others' work. You can create amazingly nifty music using nothing more than a hollow log and, say, a cheap reverb pedal! Although skill certainly opens up more possibilities, it is by NO means synonymous with creativity. Some of the most innovative music I've ever heard has been really quite simple--it just has to sound cool. Myself, I'd tell your bassist to quit selling himself short and just shut up and try something new! If that doesn't work...you may want to look into working with others.

I hate working with people who get defensive when you merely suggest to them that they try something out. Music is about constantly pushing boundaries...and if you can't really cross one particular boundary doesn't mean there aren't other dimensions to play around with. For example, I can't really play any instruments that well because of my arthritic hands...but that's okay--I make up for my lack of skill by using electronics and assorted effects. And when someone tells me to try something out, the first thing that crosses my mind is how I'm going to attempt to pull it off. If it doesn't work out, ohwell--chances are I learned something in the process!

Also, I've never heard of a bonang. I actually had to look it up on Wikipedia! Now I want one. I can just imagine how awesome that would sound laden with delay and run through a phaser....

Derek C. F. Pegritz |
PEGRITZ(.com)!: Music, Footnotes to the Human Species, Nonfiction |
Musical Offerings: DCFP, Nyarlathotep, Retar-D2, A Doctrine of Works |
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