1-Bit Symphony

Tristan Perich

14 September 2009

Electronic composition in five movements on a single microchip

A departure from traditional recordings, 1-Bit Symphony literally “performs” its music live when turned on. A complete electronic circuit — programmed by the artist and packaged into a standard CD jewel case — plays the music through a headphone jack mounted into the case itself. The layered tones in its score are synthesized by binary pulses of electricity, emphasizing the physical quality of sound. Probing the principles of digital sound, 1-Bit Symphony celebrates the virtuosity of electricity. Based on the foundations of computation and data, 1-Bit Symphony treats electricity as a sonic medium. On and off electrical pulses, routed from microchip to speaker, manifest data as sound, bypassing the layer of translation inherent in higher bitrate digital-to-analogue converters. Programming in assembly language with microchips that are only capable of binary input and output provides Perich with an ideal medium for this music: an intimate connection between the materiality of hardware and the abstract logic of software. Returning to the format of 1-Bit Music (2004-2005), the new album further reduces the hardware involved while simultaneously expanding its musical ideas.

Since 1-Bit Music, Perich has composed for acoustic classical instruments accompanied by 1-bit audio. These compositions provided insight into the conceptual and aesthetic relationships between acoustic and electronic sound. With 1-Bit Symphony, Perich’s compositional approach now returns to the purely electronic domain, juxtaposing the grand form of a classical symphony with the minimal nature of 1-bit circuitry. Perich’s 1-Bit Symphony will be released in 2010 by the New York-based record label Cantaloupe Music.