Baroque Variations (2001) is a series of 12 compositions for MIDI and free synthesiser samples, which were begun as an offshoot of Stained Melodies (2000). The Variations take their source material from Stained Melodies and reuse it for different instrumental timbres, with each Variation composed for a unique combination of General MIDI instrument patches found on a modestly-priced soundcard.
The first Variation is for three instrumental voices, each playing within its own gamut of pitches. For each voice, up to 64 notes were selected by chance operations from each available pitch in a given piece in Stained Melodies. The three voices were then superimposed and adjusted to the length of the longest source piece, preserving rhythmic relationships within each voice, while allowing polyrhythms to emerge between voices.
The second Variation repeated the above process, with the addition of a fourth voice which was incorporated by selecting at random one of the voices from the first Variation. Each subsequent Variation includes one of the three new voices from each of the preceding Variations, and adds three more, so that the twelfth and last Variation is for 14 voices, 3 new and one originating from each of the eleven other Variations.
The Hoddle-Fawkner-Batman Mix
The Hoddle-Fawkner-Batman Mix of Baroque Variations was composed in late 2001 - early 2002. In addition to the Variations, the mix includes the following material:
a) percussion parts, made by extracting pairs of voices from selected Variations and playing them through the MIDI percussion channel;
b) MIDI renditions of Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas, with all pitches forming the triad on the tonic omitted;
c) inspirational words from Father Gerard Dowling;
d) field recordings from various locations in Melbourne’s city centre.
The field recordings were made in 1999, for use in an installation at First Floor gallery in Fitzroy.
A small number of CDs of The Hoddle-Fawkner-Batman Mix of Baroque Variations were circulated in 2002. The complete set was remixed in 2010; a short run of CDs of the remix is in preparation. The entire remix CD is now available as mp3 files.
- Variations 10, 7, 11, 16
(Tivoli Arcade, Café L’Incontro, Bond Street, Paramount Centre, Uniacke Court, McDonalds - Collins Street)
- Variations 3, 12
(Newsagency - Elizabeth St, Hardware Lane at Little Lonsdale Street)
- Variations 8, 2, 5, 4
(Spenser Square, Flinders St Overpass - King Street, Newsagency - Elizabeth St, The Age - Little Lonsdale Street)
- Variations 1, 9
(Bourke St Mall at Swanston St, Lobby - Kino Cinema, 7-Eleven - Bourke St)
Baroque Variations, © Ben.Harper 2002/10. Recorded in Your Dad’s Den, Fitzroy. A Cooky La Moo production, edition number 9.