Scrapbook​/​Landform Variations Book 1

by Jacob Feinberg

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Note on audio playback:

If you do not hear a fairly loud low rumbling note in the first few seconds of the first track, Declaration of War (LFV1), your speakers do not have enough bass frequency response to play all the music in this album. Some speakers may play these low notes quietly even at full volume. However, after a few seconds they should reach a volume audibly similar to that of the higher pitches heard later in the piece. Most stereos and headphones are adequate for playback of this album. However, the internal speakers of computers, cell phones, MP3 players (including IPODs) and tablets generally aren't good enough.

The conversion of this recording to the MP3 format also results in unavoidable distortion and “fuzziness” of some tones which are, in fact, clean and pure when heard at CD quality. Additional pops, clicks, and distortion may also occur with lower-fidelity playback equipment.

Notes on the music:

This album combines the first of three "books" of Landform Variations (LFVs) with other miscellaneous pieces and fragments (Scrapbook).

Scrapbook pieces:

Of Knowing Others (Alone). In 2006, I wrote a piece called Of Knowing Others for theremin and violin. A series of cancelled concerts, injuries, broken instruments, and relocations resulted in the piece never receiving a premier. In 2010, I reworked the piece for my own studio realization. This was an interesting challenge because the original piece was largely constructed to facilitate different kinds of improvisational interplay between the performers. I chose the title from a quote attributed to Confucius: “I do not fear that others do not know me; rather I fear it is I who does not know others.”

Wormholes: Canonically Flat was composed in 2005 and revised in 2011. The canonic form of the piece is conceptually modeled on a wormhole. In astro-physics, a wormhole is a shortcut through the time-space continuum - a way to quickly (or instantly) travel to another place or time. Scientists disagree on whether wormholes exist, whether they could be formed by two connected black holes, and whether anything could survive passing through them.  The piece is “flat” because there are “flattened” elements of stasis in the piece.

Suite is a collage which combines previously unused material (originally generated for my pieces For Melinda Rice and Of Knowing Others) with LFVs 3, 4, and 5. There are four sections:
1) Scrapbook (0:00)
2) If You Lived Here, You'd Already Be Home (LFV3) (3:40)
3) As If We Were Invisible (LFV4) (4:56)
4) As the Subconscious Is Mythology…(LFV5) (5:34)

Microcosm With Fractal Edging and Solemnity Arcs are studies in which 10- and 11- equally divisions of an octave (EDO) are used instead of the 12-EDO typical in Western music.

Landform Variations (LFVs):

The Landform Variations are not sonic representations of specific landforms or topographical formations (i.e. mountains, caves, dunes, valleys, etc.). However, some attributes of natural terrains and the variety of life they support have conceptually influenced the form of these pieces. The concept of an ecotone was also of interest to me in writing these pieces. An ecotone is a transitional area between two (or more) environments that features attributes of both, sometimes with unusual overlaps in geology, fauna, and flora.

Different combinations of a relatively small set of natural conditions (mineral and soil composition, altitude, temperature, water/humidity, sunlight etc.) account for a huge variety of differences (as well as similarities) in landscapes and the fauna and flora they support. This can be seen on a subtle level on a walk in a mundane local park or on a magnificent scale in national parks. Where erosion has created awe inspiring formations (Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Arches, etc. ) or conditions support clusters of highly unusual and specialized plant life (Sequoia, Joshua Tree, Seguaro, etc.), these natural features have combined in startling combinations.

In recent years, I have sometimes used the metaphor of topographical variation as a loose model for creating a variety of sonic textures within a musical work. Thinking about sound in this manner helps suggest how a piece may vary over time and what musical features it would support (in ways unobtrusive, brazen, or awkward). The Landform Variations were not written in traditional theme-and-variations form. They do not even have a theme; instead 38 of my favorite pentatonic (5-note) scales are juxtaposed. The proportions of consonance and dissonance in these scales suit one of my aesthetic goals – producing music which has few cultural and emotional reference points (that I'm aware of). Therefore these scales are (for the most part) not very reminiscent of more familiar scales (i.e. major, minor, chromatic, whole tone, blues, church modes, and popular/stereotyped "world music" scales and modes). Each "book" of variations highlights a different way of combining these scales based on shared attributes. The variations in Book 1 feature combinations of scales which share a particular scale degrees. For instance, Variation 1 (LFV1), includes only scales in which the 2nd scale degree is a minor second.


released January 1, 2010



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Jacob Feinberg Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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