The Janus ReMixes; Exercises in Auto-Plundering
1. Narcissus ReMix 5:35
2. Mt. Moriah ReMix 2:37
3. Dead White Males ReMix 6:05
4. Triple ReMix 6:46
5. Anesthesia ReMix 7:36
6. Elegy ReMix 6:19
7. Sargasso ReMix 5:15
8. Scipio ReMix 5:21
9. Tlön ReMix 1:38
10. Chameleon ReMix 4:22
11. Janus ReMix 8:49
Mark Applebaum’s solo, chamber, orchestral, choral, electro-acoustic, and electronic music has been performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, including notable premieres
at ICMC and the Darmstadt sessions. He has received commissions from Betty Freeman, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, Zeitgeist New Music Ensemble, Tokyo-based
MANUFACTURE, the American Composers Forum, and the Jerome Foundation, among others.
He is recipient of the 1997
Stephen Albert Prize administered by the American Music Center.
In addition to his role as a composer, Applebaum builds sound-
sculptures out of junk, hardware, and found-objects mounted on electro-acoustic soundboards. Mousetrap Music, a collection of improvisations with these unique instruments, is also available on innova. Applebaum is active as a jazz pianist and trans-idiomatic improviser. The
Mark Applebaum Trio has been featured in simulcast concerts on KSDS jazz radio, San Diego, for which he received the 1994 Jazz Society
of Southern California prize. The trio has concertized extensively,
including a 1999 performance that was the first Mississippi arts event
broadcast live on the Internet.
Applebaum earned his Ph.D. in music composition from the
University of California at San Diego where he worked principally with Brian Ferneyhough, taught composition and music history, and served as Co-Director of the New Music Forum, an organization that presents new works by emerging composers. In 1996 he served as the Dayton-Hudson Visiting Artist at Carleton College. Presently he is a member of the
faculty at Mississippi State University, where teaches composition and theory, collaborates with visual art and architecture colleagues, and
serves as a board member of the local SIGGRAPH chapter.
• • •
Mark Applebaum on innova :
innova 511: Mousetrap Music
innova 532: The Janus ReMixes
innova 116: Sonic Circuits VII
• • •
“Dr. Applebaum, why don’t you use your powers for good, and not for evil?
They laughed at me at the university, ellipses.”
This was the title of a piano piece that I composed during my doctoral studies at the University of California at San Diego. Actually, it was more like an improvisation in which I slowly evolved from good—a syntax of dense, unpredictable, mercurial, atonal, dissonant, obfuscated, pulseless, stochastic, modernist passages into evil—a 12-bar blues with regular meter, standard harmonies in one key, and classic blues phrasing. Such was evil, as I
perceived it, in the culture of UCSD in the mid-1990s.
Of course when I moved to Mississippi to join the music faculty at Mississippi State University, the tables turned. References to known, vernacular genres, use of swinging rhythms, and linear narratives were celebrated things, whereas, that pulseless (godless) stuff was foreign and suspect. When I play the improvisation at MSU, I play the piece in reverse,
but it still moves from good to evil.
The art/pop dichotomy seems to be an increasingly shallow one and I have come to recognize that all music is fusion music, that all music begins as a bastard child. But it is
the boundary conditions that are most interesting; while barriers are obstacles, their
problematized transgression is rewarding. The thrill of fusion is predicated on the affir-mation of difference. Despite my reservations about the art/pop compass, it continues to inform my thinking as I reflect upon this current collection of remixes.
Between 1992 and 1996 I composed the Janus Cycle, a group of eleven pieces that all
share the same bipartite form. These are hard-core modernist compositions for virtuoso
ensembles. Their instrumentation ranges from solo to orchestral works. The pieces are all composed for acoustic instruments with two minor exceptions: in addition to violin and
bassoon, Scipio Wakes Up, commissioned by the Paul Dresher Ensemble, uses electro-acoustic sound-sculptures of my own invention as well as electronic triggers of samples of the sound-sculptures; and Tlön, scored for three conductors and no players, is a piece that explores
issues like temporal dissonance and dynamic, but through ocular rather than aural means.
The remixes that constitute this disc are derived entirely from extant recordings of these eleven acoustic works. They were created by first collecting digital samples from the
recordings and through rather prosaic operations like juxtaposition, superimposition, time compression and expansion, pitch shifting, and reversal of the sounds, I arrived at the
remixes, ones which have little, if anything, to do with the discursive vector of the original works. One area of fascination for me is inherently postmodern: the aesthetic squeezing of plastic sounds—themselves containing a particular modernist investment—into the foreign
working conditions of the software: industrial, techno-oriented, cinematic.
I cannot think of another genre wherein the technology and values are more intertwined than the worlds of hip-hop, techno, and their related and ever-proliferating sub-genres. So in that sense, I feel that my remixes are inspired, at least distantly, by these vernacular
genres. However, there are at least three distinct features that differentiate my work from those of, say, the techno genre. First, I self-consciously limit my compositional resources;
second, I do not identify myself as a techno artist; and third, the source of my samples is
exclusively my own past composition.
Whereas most techno artists compose pieces without formally limiting their resources, I have chosen to create each remix solely from samples of its corresponding source composition. Despite this strategy, I soon discovered that my self-imposed limitation was really not so
limiting. In retrospect, it is not the timbral richness or poverty of a given source that serves as a defining factor. Instead, the source functions as an aesthetic trigger, an icon that prompts, suggests, and inspires. I am rather idealistic about this function. While the
remixes make up a diverse set, I believe they demonstrate an expressive focus that parallels
the diverse but tightly circumscribed aesthetic of the source materials.
The sources of the individual remixes on this CD are:
• Narcissus:Strata/Panacea for solo marimba.
• Mt. Moriah for string quartet.
• Dead White Males (Lunching in the Perspectival Cafeteria) for orchestra.
• Triple Concerto for piano, percussion, and contrabass soloists with a concertante of
two percussion, guitar, harp, and large choir.
• Anesthesia (+83) for solo viola.
• Elegy (for Keith Humble) for carillon.
• Sargasso (83+) for solo cello.
• Scipio Wakes Up (and Smells the Coffee) for violin, bassoon, six sound-sculptures,
and two electronic keyboards, electronic drumset, and electronic marimba
triggering samples of the aforementioned sound-sculptures.
• Tlön for 3 conductors and no players. I never bothered to make a sound recording
of this piece. Therefore, for the remix I used the sound of page turns, shuff-
ling feet, and the ambient noise from a performance of Tlön on videotape.
• The Plate of Transition Nourishes the Chameleon Appetite for solo violin.
• Janus for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, two violins, viola, cello, and contrabass.
I am not a techno artist myself and only recently have I become an enthusiast of the genre. I have never even been to a rave. The remedial studies that I have undertaken have
complicated and perhaps confused my perception of the genre. I take my inexperience
as an advantage, a kind of fresh perspective, an opportunity to divine serendipitous
consequences, the union of knowledge and misunderstanding.
Both my work and techno are postmodern in their exploration of the past through
recycling. However, the majority of techno artists sample their own listening past (those passages that they admire from other musician’s records) whereas I am exclusively
sampling my own compositional past (those passages I admire from self-produced records of my own). My close proximity to these materials suggests both musical
narcissism and self-loathing. My past is treasured, adored, fetishized, and canonized but, as in any rape, it is scrutinized, mutilated, profaned, and discarded. At the heart of auto-
plundering are not just bricollage and frugality, but a kind of self-exploration.
I am not sure where these remixes belong on an art/pop continuum, and I have stopped worrying about it. The Duke Ellington adage says that the only kinds of music are
good music and bad music, not good music and evil music. What I am sure of is that my
musicality is a product of many colliding and fusing worlds.
Mark Applebaum, October, 1999
I started composing these remixes in 1998 at the end of my first year in Mississippi. I have found fewer opportunities to get performances of my acoustic music here. In response to this climate I bought a computer and learned how to use Pro Tools digital editing
software. Computer music is mostly a lonely affair, but you get to hear your music almost instantly and exactly how you composed it. I am rather excited about contemporary music technology. But I hope that as we develop current paradigms of music-making, we continue to make acoustic music along with electronic music, that we make live music as
well as recorded music, and that we experience music together as well as alone.
The remixes were composed on an Apple G3 computer in (non-TDM) Pro Tools. I used Hyperprism and Waves plug-ins as well as the standard Pro Tools audiosuite. Occasionally I would import a sound file into Peak or Studio Vision Pro and alter it with SFX Machine, and then export it back into my Pro Tools session. Although some passages are the result of hundreds of tracks bounced down into stereo, my playback limitation at
any given time was 16 tracks.