[Mar 17] Dave Seidel: Involution

Harvestworks is pleased to partner with Experimental Intermedia to present Involution, by Dave Seidel. A performance of the entirety of his three-part electronic drone work “Involution”, from the eponymous XI Records release. A study in complex microtonal sonorities derived from various just intonation tunings and scales. This is the premiere of a new revision of the piece.

Date and Time: 7 pm

Location: 596 Broadway Suite 602 NYC 10012

Involution is an exploration into the sonorities that can result from applying various procedures to simple two-note chords, or dyads. Notes are selected by two semi-randomized melodic sequences operating at different tempi. The modular synthesizer combines these tones in various ways, including ring modulation and amplitude modulation. A tuned, resonating delay further articulates the dyads as an unsteady tremolo.  As the sequences are generated, the notes are sent to a computer system (Csound running on a Raspberry Pi), which contributes two more layers. First, there is the current dyad itself, then there is a cloud of sine waves representing various types of combination tones (e.g., difference tones, summation tones, and others) computed from the relative frequencies of the dyad. Thus, a relatively simple two-part sequence blossoms into unexpected sonorities, which can be quite complex and do not follow the harmony rules of any existing music theory.

The piece is in three sections, each one based on a different microtonal tuning in just intonation. Part 1 uses Meta-Slendro tuning with 7-note and 5-note scales. Part 2 uses Centaur tuning with two hexatonic (6-note) scales: the Prometheus scale derived from the work of Scriabin, and the Marva scale from Hindustani classical music. Part three uses a tuning that interleaves two different 6-note hexany scales. These tunings contain many unique intervals, guaranteeing a variety of generated sonorities across the duration of the piece.

Because he employs a semi-randomized process for selecting the notes of the dyads, every performance of the piece is different. He has revised the piece somewhat since the XI Records release, so this performance will sound a bit different from the CD but will, he hopes, retain the same essential character..


Dave Seidel is an independent composer based in New Hampshire (US).

As a guitarist, he was part of the Downtown NYC new music scene in the 1980s. Performed and recorded in ensembles led by composers Lois V Vierk, Scott Johnson, Guy Klucevsek, and Bill Obrecht. Co-led the band People Falling. Premiered the electric guitar version of Lois V Vierk’s 五 Guitars (Go Guitars) for five microtonally-tuned guitars, live and on Simoom (Experimental Intermedia CD, 1990), and recorded Vierk’s Red Shift on River Beneath the River (Tzadik CD, 2000). Appeared on Klucevsek’s Flying Vegetables of the Apocalypse (Experimental Intermedia CD, 1991). Performed in a wide variety of venues, ranging from night clubs (CBGB, Mudd Club) to downtown performance spaces (The Kitchen, Dia Art Foundation, Dance Theater Workshop) to concert halls (New York’s Alice Tully Hall, Minneapolis’ Walker Arts Center) and at several new music festivals (New Music America in Los Angeles, Bang On A Can in New York, and Styrian Autumn in Graz, Austria).

Since 2004, he has been focused on the composition and performance of electronic music, usually with a microtonal and/or drone basis. Festival participation includes Electronic Music Midwest, SEAMUS, North Country Electronic Music Festival, XFest, and PVDLoopFest.

Dave has released albums on Irritable Hedgehog (~60 Hz) and XI Records (Involution). Much music can be found at https://mysterybear.bandcamp.com


“Involution is a milestone in the process of getting directly at the core of the problem: translating a new harmonic structure into the music of emotional expression.” (Paul Muller, Sequenza21)

“These are works whose mystery is neither subservient to nor supplanted by a fastidious ordering, a logic in beautiful coexistence with depth of purpose and vision.” (Marc Medwin, Dusted)

“He succeeds most beautifully with the three-part “Involution,” which resembles an endlessly shifting feedback sculpture in which alien dissonances take shape and dissolve into buzzing drones. It calls to mind a magician pulling rabbits out of a hat, as it is a series of pregnant lulls punctuated by blossoming microtonal events that make the air feel humming and alive.” (Anthony D’Amico, BrainwASHED) 














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