Daniel McKemie: D/A /// A/D
The music presented here is drawn primarily from a series of works
that utilize custom software designed specifically to control
hardware. These come in the form of programmed compositions,
performance environments, algorithmic processes, and custom
Max/MSP, and Pure Data. These software mechanisms were used to
control the sound palettes provided by musical hardware such as
modular synthesizers and custom circuits. The acoustic sound
sources are made up entirely of recorded samples of choice
instruments in the Lou Harrison Collection at Mills College,
All music composed and recorded by Daniel McKemie in Brooklyn, NY
Mastered by Ryan Ross Smith in Fremont Center, NY
Sample recordings performed and engineered by Daniel McKemie and Joseph Rosenzweig in Oakland, CA
Cover art - ERIDAN (Eri King and Daniel Greer)
This outing is a curated series of works that illustrate a few
years' worth of work on computer-controlled synthesizer. The
earliest pieces of mine that explored this hybrid reality could
largely be chalked up as fancy noise studies (at best). These were
mostly attempts to understand both sides of the system
respectively, let alone how they could possibly work together. I
do not usually aim to discuss technical details in liner or
program notes, but this is an area that I have spent an incredible
amount of time researching and developing music in, and have plans
to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. It is in my hopes
that these liner notes will motivate others to explore this topic,
or at least spark a conversation about it.
Without an entire history lesson in this idea, this came about as a simple interest in wanting to join the power of computers with the interface and dynamics of control voltage. By generating programmed voltages in software, routing them in any number of ways, or even sending back voltage to be read by the software to in turn make decisions on control voltage generation, I see a rich atmosphere for electronic music making; both in live performance and in composed (or dare I say...algorithmic!) settings. The original experiments in this were constructed from patches written in Max/MSP and hooked in a myriad of ways to semi-modular Eurorack instruments. This then moved into constructing breadboard circuits and homemade hardware systems.
What I quickly realized in this venture was that neither my programming, circuit building, or general knowledge of modular synthesis were enough to warrant anything of value. But yet I moved forward. After spending some considerable time with at least two of these three topics listed, some musical ideas began to take shape. What I sought to do was utilize a number of different languages and approaches, as well as hardware systems to see how many variations could be achieved.
I settled on the pieces presented here for two reasons, the first being that they are the most musically interesting to me, and the second being that they exhibited an array of different approaches with varying degrees of success. Some of these pieces are performed live, some recorded live as an automated musical process, and some constructed as fixed media from either of these two aforementioned methods. What was learned in the end, and what is almost always learned in the end, is that it is not the technical specifications that make the work, it is the person behind it who makes the aesthetic choices on how; to deal with this technology however it does not mean that discussing technique (be it technical or aesthetic) has no implied value.
This does not mark an end to this approach to music making for me, but rather the beginning of what I hope to be are a series of experiments. Additional work and research is being done by taking these ideas into the realm of live-coding, custom built instruments and circuitry, and developing software functionality for embedded systems at a lower level. In addition, I am continuing to codify these works with supplemental writing and research papers that I hope to have published in the future. As always, thank you for listening (and reading!).