[Feb 9] Annie Gosfield – Jammed Radios, Flying Signals, and String Noise

NOTE:  The Concert is On for Tonight!

Harvestworks, in partnership with Composers Now Festival presents Annie Gosfield – Jammed Radios, Flying Signals, and String Noise.

In a premiere of this spatialized work, String Noise (Pauline Kim Harris and Conrad Harris) will perform “Static Strands and String Noise” for two violins and the eerie sounds of wartime radio interference, in a dynamic, multi-speaker environment. Pauline Kim Harris will perform “Long Waves and Random Pulses,” a virtuosic solo violin piece that emphasizes the textural and melodic elements of jammed radio signals. Multitracked, highly altered string sounds will merge with surreal, distorted radio broadcasts for a shifting installation-based electronic work that will reveal the finer points of the electronic elements of both pieces. The composer and violinists will give an informal demonstration of the sounds and techniques used.

February 9th 2017, 8 pm FREE

Harvestworks 596 Broadway #602 New York NY 10012

Phone: 212-431-1130 Subway: F/M/D/B Broadway/Lafayette, R to Prince, #6

This concert features music for strings and sampled radio sounds, work that is related to my research into the sounds and processes of jammed radio signals. I had the pleasure of receiving an AIR (artist in residence) grant at Harvestworks, where I was able to greatly expand the work. One of the most critical aspects of the residency was adding spatialization, which evokes the ephemeral, shifting nature of jammed radio broadcasts. As opposed to merely documenting the pieces, I worked closely with engineer Paul Geluso in recording and spatializing the work. Together with violinists Pauline Kim Harris and Conrad Harris, we took a creative, active approach that brought new dimensions to the music, adding multiple layers of increasingly odd violin timbres, expanding the sampled sounds, and taking a free approach to the spatialization and production of the radio sounds.

Long Waves and Random Pulses (2012, 12:43, for violin and jammed radio signals)

Performed by Pauline Kim Harris, violin

Long Waves and Random Pulses is a duet for violin and jammed radio signals. I used original recordings of jamming sounds that were used to block radio transmissions in Italy, Germany, and the Soviet Union in World War II. The violin merges and emerges, shifting from music, to noise, to pure signal while fading in and out of the sounds of intentional radio interference. The electronic backing track includes a repeated six-note figure that was drawn from original recordings of an Italian radio jamming device, a buzzing pitched pulse from a German jamming device, a quote from J. S. Bach’s Chaconne in D Minor as it could have been heard in a jammed broadcast, and many extended techniques that evoke the sounds of these otherworldly radio signals. The violin part alternates between virtuosic and textural playing, shifting between notes and noise. As for the title, Long Waves refers to the long wave radio frequencies that many of these interrupted signals were broadcast on. Random Pulses represents a method of radio jamming that uses a random pulse noise to override the program broadcast on the target radio frequency.

Static Strands and String Noise (2014/2016 15 minutes, for two violins and electronics)

Performed by String Noise (Pauline Kim Harris and Conrad Harris, violins)

Static Strands and String Noise is a modular piece for two violins and electronics composed in close collaboration with the dynamic violin duo of Pauline Kim Harris and Conrad Harris. Inspired by the transformations, collisions, and wild sonic phenomena of jammed radio signals, it combines clandestine radio broadcasts, improvisation, and traditional notation. Originally composed as a violin duo with very minimal electronics, I revisited the piece in 2016 as an Artist in Residence at Harvestworks, experimenting with spatialization, multitracked layers of increasingly distorted string timbres, extended techniques, and a huge library of radio sounds that were just dying to be put to good use. The two violinists’ roles shift in a soundfield where music, noise, and pure signal meld and collide, evoking the jamming process both acoustically and electronically.

Plus an installation and an informal presentation by the composer and musicians.

Multitracked, highly altered string sounds will merge with surreal, distorted radio broadcasts that will reveal the finer points of the electronic elements of both pieces. The composer and violinists will give an informal demonstration of the sounds and techniques used.



Annie Gosfield, whom the BBC called “A one woman Hadron collider” lives in New York City and works on the boundaries between notated and improvised music, electronic and acoustic sounds, refined timbres and noise. She composes for others and performs with her own band, taking her music on a path through festivals, factories, clubs, art spaces, and concert halls. Her most recent CD “Almost Truths and Open Deceptions” features a piece for piano and broken shortwave radio, a cello concerto, a 5-minute blast by her band, and music inspired by baseball and warped 78‘s. Her music has been performed worldwide at Warsaw Autumn, the Bang on a Can Marathon, MATA, MaerzMusik, the Venice Biennale, OtherMinds, Lincoln Center, The Stone, The Miller Theatre, Merkin Hall, and The Kitchen. Recent work includes compositions inspired by factory environments, jammed radio signals from WWII, and her grandparents’ immigrant experiences in New York City during the industrial revolution. Annie’s discography includes four solo releases on the Tzadik label, and she often writes on the compositional process for the New York Times’ series “The Score.” She was a 2012 fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, held the Milhaud chair of composition at Mills College, and has taught at Princeton University and California Institute of the Arts.

“Her extraordinary command of texture and timbre means that whether she is working with a solo cello or with the ensemble she calls her “21st-century avant noisy dream band,” she is able to conjure up a palette of saturated and heady hues.” By CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM New York Times, SEPT. 8, 2015

“A ceaselessly re-inventive composer, Gosfield mixes history, technology, and autobiography in work that oscillates vibrantly between past and future.”
-Richard Gehr, The Village Voice

Annie Gosfield, a New York composer and keyboardist, exuberantly exploits the inadvertent music of contemporary life: static, distortion, the clangor of industry and the siren song of space junk form part of her digital palette.”

–The New York Times, CD release concert review by Steve Smith

“A one woman Hadron collider, the queen of the detuned industrial noise warp musical universe that she inhabits.” –BBC Radio, Max Reinhardt




NY TImes profile/interview


NY Times review


NY Times review


String Noise is a classical, avant-punk violin duo comprised of violinists Conrad Harris and Pauline Kim. Since its inception in 2011 at Ostrava New Music Days, they have expanded the two violin repertoire in over 50 new works to include larger collaborations with electronics, projections and dance.

Their first feature album “The Book of Strange Positions” was released on NORTHERN SPY RECORDS in November 2015. Tiny Mix Tapes describes this collection of original works and arrangements by Eric Lyon of punk covers by Bad Brains, Violent Femmes, Deerhoof, Radiohead, and Black Flag as a “mix of classic punk covers and ZERO APOLOGIES.” Their new 7” inch EP “Covers” produced by Deerhoof drummer and composer Greg Saunier is now available on Northern Spy Records.

String Noise was highlighted in Performa 2011 with artist Will Cotton and was the featured ensemble for the launch of composers collective Index 0. Premieres include works by Christian Wolff, John King, Phill Niblock, Caleb Burhans, David Lang, Annie Gosfield, Bernhard Lang, John Zorn and Greg Saunier. String Noise has performed at Issue Project Room, Roulette, EXAPNO, Rockwood Music Hall and the Stone and has been heard on WNYC, WKCR and WFMU.

As curators, Conrad and Pauline presented Drawing Sound: Part II at the Drawing Center – a three night mini-festival featuring artists Alvin Lucier, Greg Saunier and Jad Fair.

About Composers Now

The Composers Now Festival empowers living composers, celebrates the diversity of their voices and honors the significance of their musical contributions to our society. During the month of February, the Festival brings together dozens of performances presented by venues, ensembles, orchestras, opera companies, dance companies and many other innovative events throughout New York City. Experience the sounds and get to know the creators behind the music. From jazz to indie, from classical to electronic and beyond, join us on a sonic journey through the landscape of the arts of our time. Composers will be in attendance at all events and will be interacting with audiences. Composers Now is a project partner of The Fund for the City of New York. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the ASCAP Foundation, the Cheswatyr Foundation, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, The Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund and the Newburgh Institute for the Arts and Ideas.

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.