Harbour [Disquiet0456]

A short musical interpretation of the work of Agnes Martin, a painter best known for her parallel lines.

This piece is inspired by the piece titled Harbor Number 1, 1957, and was recorded for my first participation in Disquiet junto project.

I chose “Harbor Number 1” as the subject of my composition. Agnes Martin created this work just after moving to New York City and just before developing her distinctive grid style.

Agnes Martin Harbor Number 1, 1957 | Image from MOMA

Acording to the MOMA page, Agnes Martin created this painting from her studio which was “so close to the East River that she ‘could see the expressions on the faces of the sailors,’”. For some reason this made me think of my childhood in South Baltimore, of the nearby docks and rail stations, and being so inspired I based my work loosely off of this one painting, but really off of Agnes Martin’s work as I experienced it as a whole, and the concept of grids, lines, spirituality, and systems.

I recorded a series of 8 bar phrases using each of the following: A pair of Baoding balls, a pair of clapsticks, a small djembe drum, bubble sounds made by blowing into a heavy glass beaker like object with water inside, drum sound made by setting the beaker down on the table, and 2 separate passes of my voice saying what came to mind.

These 8 bar phrases then became my “lines”.

My kick and snare are made using NI Maschine’s built in drum synths, and the bass synth sound is my Pittsburgh Modular synthesizer box. The kick and snare patterns are dry, and the bass synth just drones a D note on and on. Make Noise Rene is clock synced to the project tempo and modulates filter cutoff on the Pittsburgh synth voice.

Everything was recorded in Maschine and then exported to Reaper for arrangement and mixing.

Cover photo by Jennifer Smutek