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Field Recording by Byron Westbrook

There are actually two recordings here, made many months apart and then superimposed on one another. For me, each would qualify as play—as both scenarios only involved turning on a recorder in a particular space, without any intention of producing a proper piece. More than anything, each was straight documentation.

In the first, made in upstate New York, I activated a large concrete grain silo with sticks, voice, and whistling. I leaned my microphones into a portal on the edge of this silo and sang into it, singing overtones related to the pitches I heard inside.

The second is a stereo recording made while rehearsing at Phill Niblock's loft. I don't play synthesizers live and was trying out a performance setup that I never ended up using. I sustained separate tones from different speakers, resonating the room. The choice of pitches was arbitrary, probably just reactions to the rattles in Phill's congested space.

Some time later, when I uploaded the contents of my recorder to a computer, I noticed something unusual: these two recordings, not adjacent to each other at all, were almost perfectly in tune with one another. In both, the root tone is about 138 Hz—a very sharp C#, an interstitial note that would not even be found on a properly tuned piano at A440. This is a fairly uncanny coincidence.

These recordings play over each other very nicely, almost too nicely. It is almost disposable as a composition but quite interesting as an occurrence. I'm fascinated by what it suggests—that there is some kind of dialogue over time, between presence in different spaces. And then there's the idea of something in the present playing along with something in the future. I was drawn to both of these spaces, and I'm curious about what my attraction might illuminate. Could they be related to each other in other ways? Are they speaking to each other via my voice?

My work contains a number of threads that are seemingly unrelated: field recordings, music performance, and socially engaged installations. I'd like to think of this as a reminder of their connection, their shared resonance.