Electronic music is absolute and abstract, so if you don’t have a particular narrative idea in mind - which I usually don’t - the choice of title is arbitrary. So for the past year or so, when I finish a track, I google “what national day is today?” and choose the “national day” I like best. The tracks are presented in chronological order, beginning with “St Nicholas” which I finished on St Nicholas Day: December 6th 2019. The album title, “Day Day” imagines a national Day Day, where the idea of national days celebrates itself.
All of these tracks are exploration of compositional experiments done with the software modular synthesizer VCVRack (www.vcvrack.com
). The core idea is to generate extended permutations of a small set of melodic tones.
Traditionally, composers wrote their music one note at a time, and the written representation mapped directly on the performance. Jazz musicians freed themselves from the score, using the bare bones of a song as a launchpad for improvisation. In electronic music, especially when working with modular synthesizers, you construct a custom machine to generate the music you want to hear. The goal - or my goal at least - is to make a modular ‘patch’ capable of interesting complexity and surprise.
A sufficiently convoluted patch is barely under the composer’s control. There are controls to pilot the patch into musically meaningful territory, but the patch runs whether you steer it or not, potentially forever. Most of these pieces are live realizations, where I tweak knobs and settings as I record. As I’ve refined and practiced, the amount of editing and augmenting of the original live recording has diminished. Some tracks, like the album closer “Rotisserie” is exactly the live ‘performance’ of the patch with no edits or overdubs.
The album art is the work of Alex Mugford, who is 10 years old and lives in the UK. His father, music critic Joe Mugford, has been posting his drawings on Twitter & Facebook for a couple of years, and I’ve admired the riotous invention of his work. His drawings look as though Keith Haring and Joan Miro spent a long afternoon drinking Beaujolais & doodling on each other's placemats.
My wife Melissa for the best music review in human history (“Is there something wrong with the stereo?”).
My mother, composer Linda Worsley, whose feedback was invaluable. (“There’s a sound that’s like when I chop onions that I don’t like. I resent when it comes in and I’m relieved when it stops.”).
Andrew Belt for creating VCV Rack, Rack. developer.
Musician Jeremy Wentworth, who implemented an idea I had for combining sequencer clocks with boolean logic.
COVID19 for isolating me in musical pocket universe for the past few months.
… and anyone who has given me feedback and encouragement over the years.
released October 10, 2020
Composed and realized by Kent Williams
Album artwork by Alex Mugford