Last year, I led a roundtable lecture on Laboratorie New Music composer’s reductionist pieces titled the “Compaction Series” .
With the compaction musics, each piece is typically under 20 seconds and are appropriations of existing works coupled with the composers original work compressed to varying degrees associated with strict rules and guidelines. (Compaction Music 7.4)
Generally the pieces, while titled, also include the precise time in each title (“A Flutter Pressure Drop” 7.90445802″).
With Compaction Music there is an invitation to listen with an awareness of the construction, an alertness in the background of the experience. Compactionist Composers are an exclusive challenge-society, a think-tank that seeks to generate pseudo-constraints; these constraints spur the private musical ambitions of its members, and subvert the aesthetic traditions of composition.
Some works of this group are front-loaded, with the constraint or device announced in tandem with the debut of the score—this allows the act of reading to be textured with an editorial or fact-checker’s spectatorship. In some Compactions, the constraint is not made explicit, which allows the act of performing to be infused with a cryptographic undercurrent, a puzzler’s inquiry.
The roundtable sessions conducted each year at The Lila Acheson Library at Juilliard highlight the appropriation techniques and the relevance to Oulipian aesthetics employed in these works.