Ben Owen – Scored Instruction for Durations / Michael Pisaro – Ascending Series (2.1)

Ben Owen – Scored Instruction for Duration

Available from the Compost and Height Split series as download.

From the notes:

Recorded: 20080527
52° 29′ 41.12″ N
13° 25′ 32.23″ E
Landwehrkanal, Berlin, Germany

The score is 10 minutes in duration. When the piece is played this specified duration is left to the perception of the performer, rather than the clock, to follow. The performance that takes place within this perceived 10 minutes is then shaped by the performer’s sense of time. The actions occur as a result of these delineated durations.

For this recording, a radio was the instrument. The setting was an early May morning along the Landwehrkanal in Kreuzberg, Berlin. The sound of a generator is in close proximity, along with wind, people passing, morning songbirds, and a vehicle.

Lisa’s Impressions

Although this piece starts slow, with all the focus on the radio, it still brings its whimsical hum to my ear immediately, the songbird reminding me this is the early morning. Absorbed in a background buzz, the mind’s history wants the music to meld into some headache-indusing background.  However, under the gentle touch of Ben Owen, amid the light softness of birds who sing the tongue-tipped dew, the radio starts to sooth, and wash over me with a gentle caress. As the sounds continue, they morph into one and include me in the light, slight journey tickling accross goose-bumped flesh. I am there – with all of them in this featherd chorus.  The radio is abstract now, a ticklish whisper of a moment in time that heralds a new day. Soon the rush of wind eases away, bird song still calls, and the radio lifts me.  Im more there than here, allowing my hearing to inject its magic alternative into awareness. A putting car tutts along, a generator performs a magical osculation, and the fresh morning breaks accross the wounded nicks and cracks of yesterdays wear and tear on my psyche. I’m healed now. Hand held fresh, sweet breathed, clear eyed; I’m ready for the day promised, for the trickle of existance to nurture me through what is to come.

What is to come is a wake up call from life, the radio bursting into station, people reminding me of obligations, duty and my other senses besides the embrace that lifts my soul. I can feel the touch of Ben Owen in this piece.  His stemming caress, leaf like, his control born of roots sewn deep into the damp fertile soil. This day, this song, this moment is filled with promise and carries none of the unfinished burdens of yesterday. The radio tips its promise to my parted lips, hints at the scent of dewy grass, and leaves me with my panting breath and moistened sex.


Ben Owen is an investigator, explorer and illustrator of the physical properties of the world we inhabit. His work across multiple media, including sound, video and, importantly, stone litho printmaking, is motivated by a desire to more deeply understand the inner life and character of the materials he works with, rather than an impulse to control or implement them. While Ben doesn’t shy away from the use of the computer, he is much more interested in the rich dynamism of the structures and forces he investigates electricity, light, ink, spacial acoustics, field recordings than in the power and precision of software-driven techniques. – Morgan Packard.

Michael Pisaro  – Ascending Series (2.1) (to Joachim Eckl)

Available from the Compost and Height Split series as download.

From the notes:

Performers: Antoine Beuger, flute, Jürg Frey, clarinet, Marcus Kaiser, violoncello, Radu Malfatti, trombone, André Möller, guitar, Christoph Nicolaus, stone harp.

Live Recording Date and Location: 25 July 2008, Neufelden, Austria ( (Engineered by Michael Pisaro)
Field Recording of the Grosse Mühl, taken near the Neufelden train station made by Michael Pisaro at ca. 5 p.m. on 21 July 2008.

Score published by Edition Wandelweiser, Haan, Germany.

This piece consists of a score (Ascending Series (2)) arranged in this case for the ensemble at hand during the Wandelweiser days in Neufelden in July, 2008. We were there as guests of artist Joachim Eckl ( The piece is to be played outdoors and/or accompanied by a field recording. The field recording used here was made by the composer near a waterfall in the river Die Grosse Mühl that runs through the Oberösterreich region and into the Danube. Besides the water itself, the town bells, cicadas and various voices and autos from the nearby train station are clearly audible, along with a host of unidentified environmental sounds. The recording was played back into the small concert space and there a simultaneous live recording was made of the ensemble piece. (We thus have a field recording situation for the recording of the piece itself.) The instrumental score stands in a somewhat variable relation to the recording environment. At times it is completely submerged, at other times, clear harmonies emerge: mostly it floats between these poles.

Lisa’s Impressions

It’s with a slow sliding slither that the waterfall and it’s friends oozes into the room, none of the crisp jagged edges cutting the round fat sound as it makes its way over and into me. The sound is not what I think it is. At first I strain against its existence to push it back into place, refusing to let the room filled with sound, transform the original.  I want to dominate it, refuses its journey between what it is and what it might be, could be. I hate the confines of the small space just as i love it.  I am on tip toes, a fingertip journey, feeling the flutter of an eyelash.

With acceptance comes awareness, and as soon as I am willing for the room to inform me, I can slip into a peaceful hallowed hollow that echoes into the soul and not soul. The sound wants to do whatever it wants, and doesn’t care that i want to follow it. I cling to anything I recognise in a kind of hope for redemption. I am smaller than a fleck of time and larger than the universe.  The bird song at the end kisses my forehead and thanks me for my efforts.


I often have the feeling that I am looking for a kind of boundary within music. That would be a place not at the definitional borders, between what is and not music, but someplace internal to music. The model for this, in my mind, is the Dedekind cut, which in effect opens an infinitesimal gap in numerical space between what lies above and below, without closing the infinite space between them. (Thus lies between 3.1415 and 3.1416 and identifies between these numbers an infinitely refined mathematical object.)Michael Pisaro