Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Luke Bergman - February 16, 2014


I am happy to be presenting a new piece for guitar and 3 percussionists at Racer Sessions.

I will be using a guitar that has 6 strings of the same width, .018 inches. This width of string is made to produce the note G3 on a guitar in standard tuning. Having 6 G strings changes the functionality of the guitar and gives it a range similar to an alto voice. My initial reason for this tuning was to give the guitar the chorusing effect of a choir. Through experimenting with this tuning in King Tears Bat Trip, I learned about other sounds that were possible.

I developed a fondness for not tuning the guitar before performing with it. Sometimes it would be sitting in its case for months in between uses and the strings would sometimes drift out of tune by as much as a quarter step. Using distortion to magnify the resulting dissonances added a richness of rhythmic beating and phantom tones to the melodies that would otherwise be clean and monophonic. 

For this piece I decided to be more intentional with the precise tuning of the guitar to give myself the ability to anticipate and control the dissonances of small, microtonal intervals and construct patterns and melodies that bring attention to the resulting effects.

The piece is influenced partially by the orchestral works of Iannis Xenakis particularly Horos and also by a recording of Laura Rivers singing “That’s Alright”

Evan Woodle, Kristian Garrard and Chris Icasiano will be joining me on drums. 

For the jam session to follow, I would like to guide the first several improvisations with the following structure:

- A group of any size and instrumentation decides on a rhythmic meter (4/4, 5/4, 3/16 etc)

- I will count off the piece and everyone will begin at the same time and improvise one measure and repeat that measure indefinitely keeping to the meter and trying, to the best of their ability, not to change the first measure they played.

- While everyone is still repeating the first measure I will cue the next section which will be improvising another measure followed by repeating that same measure indefinitely. 

- From there I will either cue the ending of the piece or cue to continue into free improvisation and leave it up to the group to create the rest of the piece.

The idea is to capture the first thought of each member in the group and hear all of the ideas against each other many times until the entire texture becomes very familiar. The second improvised measure gives everyone a chance to have a premeditated reaction to the first section and the result will be another unpredictable array of sounds which will then also be sustained.