mu [BHR AE 008]
1. mu 68:26
mu is a piano and electronics installation originally composed and recorded in 2003.
It was released in 2004 as a short run of bespoke CDs.
mu was composed by Bill Thompson (2003) and remastered in 2023.
Composition, mastering and album design by Bill Thompson (2023)
© 2023 Burning Harpsichord Records
Original release notes:
"Initially created as an installation, mu involved several tracks of sine wave bass tones that were, for the most part, below the pitch threshold of human hearing. the sine waves were designed to randomly rise and fall in frequency and were played by three cd players set at random. the players were connected to speakers aimed at the underside of a prepared grand piano. as the frequency of various bass tones crossed and resonated with the strings of the piano, sympathetic vibrations would occur causing the piano to play arcs of sound rolling up and down the prepared strings. the title mu is a japanese zen term roughly translated to 'nothingness' or 'emptiness'. it does not translate well since it implies that any linguistic expression limits its true meaning. it was chosen as the title for that reason, in that any other title for the installation seemed to color/limit the experience of the piece."
Additional notes (2023):
As with many of my early works I am indebted to my friend Brent Fariss who suggested that I keep a composition notebook to capture my ideas. This alone would have warranted a mention as this piece came about from notes that I had written years before. But Brent is also owed a special thanks as we recorded the work in his parents’ house over a long summer day using their grand piano - something his father is probably unaware of to this day
Back then we had to make do with whatever equipment we had and so I brought over my Event 2020 monitors and Brent lent me some SM58s (possibly the worst microphone for this type of recording) and we routed the entire installation through 3 CD players, a Behringer mixer and a minidisc recorder. None of this was ideal. I’m fairly certain one of my monitors blew, the SM58s were noisy as hell and the Behringer mixer (which we all seemed to have in those days) only made things worse.
What’s more, the piece was almost a complete failure from the get-go. We spent hours setting everything up, placing the speakers, microphones and CD players in just the right position only to realize that although the strings resonated as I had imagined, they were too quiet to be recorded. In disgust I flung one of the CD covers into the piano and a deep roar erupted into the room as it rattled across the strings which were vibrating due to the ultrasonic frequencies of the installation.
We cheered like we had won the lottery.
This was followed by preparing the piano with more CDs, CD covers, bits of foil and (possibly) other items, though the details are lost to me now.
released May 5, 2023