Karl Fousek - Grid Music [six.b]
Grid Music is a project that began with a submission to the nineteenth Disquiet Junto – a weekly communal music project calling for works in response to a defined brief – in this case, to read a photograph as a graphic score.
I had just built a small, twenty-note punch- card music box, and decided to devise a method for using the photograph as its input. The process was to trace some prominent lines in the photograph, interpret those lines as points on graph paper, and use those points to punch the card. The photo was reproduced as a melody. I played the music box through a filter pedal and the el capistan tape echo pedal for looping, [continued below]
sending that in turn through a granular delay and some crude buffer plugins that I had built in SonicBirth. I titled this initial track Grid Music after the grids involved in the process, but also because it seemed to speak, on a conceptual level, to the presence of “grids” in electronic music production, and even more generally in music itself.
Later, after Disquiet editor Marc Weidenbaum pointed out that the punch-card music box is itself computer technology (“the sort of thing computers of yore would read for their rudimentary data”), I decided to revise the system to a strict duet between music box and computer. Partially inspired by Keith Fullerton Whitman’s “Playthroughs” system, I added a component that generates sine waves based on live audio input, allowing the computer to play along to the music. Filtering and looping duties were also moved to the digital realm and my buffer plugins were updated to a more sophisticated set of effects.
Meanwhile, I had been collecting photographs of skylines and rooftops in Montreal: I had been drawn to the residential architecture (especially the cornices) since moving to the city. Many of these photos prominently feature power lines and seemed a perfect fit as visual inputs for the entire system: extending the connotations of “grid” beyond electronic music to the even more basic grids of cities and electrical flow.
Each track is recorded and processed in real- time. No overdubbing or tracking is done. In keeping with the mechanical and automatic nature of the project, tracks are given names that indicate their iteration.
Karl Fousek is a sound artist and electro-acoustic musician based in Montreal. He likes toy instruments, small sounds, sine waves, and loops that don’t repeat themselves.
Marc Weidenbaum’s review of Fousek’s Abacus can be found at disquiet.com