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Fugal States

by Ben Glas

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A note from Ben Glas

Fugal States (pun intended) is a series of physically relativistic drones, composed using the structure of a classical fugue as inspiration. Simple tonal melodies composed in one register, were then transposed into registers above or below; if the fundamental melodic line was to be transposed up an octave, for example, the total melody would be scrunched to half of its original size, to fit within the original subject. Alternatively, if a melody were to be transposed down a register, the melody would be stretched to envelop the original melody twice.

Composing the pieces this way (flexibly,) would allow for all individual notes/tones to meet and intersect at least once during the composition, allowing the listener’s frame of reference to gradient-ly fluctuate, almost as if ambling atonally. Melodic lines recur, subject and answer fold back upon/within themselves and become inter-zones of woven sound, projected into space: through fugal repetition the looped striations reveal a platonic field of myriad physically navigable combinations for the listener to either tune out to or to tune in to.

I think and feel I ought to mention that not all pieces present are inherently fugues in the classical sense and definition. Some pieces follow the rubric closely, while others stray and focus more on a dreamlike drone, still nevertheless crafted using the kinds of repetition one might hear in a traditional fugue. For some of these pieces the fugal elements are found within the structure of the composition, whereas in others the fugal-ity is to be found via movement through the listening space.

The composing of these pieces acted as a breathing room, a little time out, from other spinning plates occupying my mind and vying for my attention. I would effortlessly drift in and out during playback sessions, a revolving door leading to a mock fugal state: the lower registers and tones of each composition would act as a temporary temporal suspension, while the mid and higher voices would come and go in quicker succession, embellishing the low drone.

Themes within themes, tones within tones superpositioning at regular and irregular angles, add and subtract their individual voices and influence within the mix, leaving me with the present-linked agency to also come and go, to either hear or listen. Although there is an abundance of thematic repetition, it is a farce! No tonal eddy is ever quite the same (it's changing/ me and my mind's ear are changing/ everything's constantly in flux) and the listener is invited to revisit the theme, as they would a good book, throughout their lifetime.

These works are a continuation of my ongoing interest in and practice of relativistic music composing and discovery. As per usual, these pieces are to be played via an amplified speaker (stereo or mono, either gets the job done) into an open space. I encourage you to play this music to your furniture and go about your day: come back to it, naturally, in waves and in your own time (and space). I hope you too can zonk out, reach that dreamlike emergent state and enjoy your experience with these works.

From my listening space to yours,


released January 30, 2024

Many thanks to Max Wolf for his soft yet tactile mastering of the aforementioned tracks, to Lawrence English for the cover art and encouraging coffee talks, to Ma and Pa for listening to me ramble about my silly little tangents. Thank you <3


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