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andrewcsmith on 08/13/2010 at 09:00AM

Perfect/Imperfect: Duane Pitre, coming to IPR's ImpRec courtyard show this Sunday

Electric guitarist and composer Duane Pitre, by Lauren Cecil

Duane Pitre, performing on the same bill as Master Musicians of Bukkake with Important Records in the courtyard at 2 p.m. this Sunday at ISSUE, tends toward calm and extreme concentration. His electric guitar is usually tuned to some form of just intonation—a tuning schema where all notes are whole-number ratios of some single pitch center—and he often plays it with a bow. This is the case in his newly released album Origin, on Root Strata, featuring an ensemble of bowed and retuned guitars. Pitre also curated an album of works in just intonation called "The Harmonic Series," released on Important Records in 2009.

At its peak, his music is a contiguous mass in which everything is shifting but nothing moves. In fact, it seems that the composer is absent, save for a few notes: a three-sentence score (printed on the album page, and after the jump) provides the underpinnings of an entire work, the rest to come later. But the composer is far from absent in these works. Pitre plays in nearly every performance of his music (as he will on Sunday), usually alternating between Niblockean drones and freely rhythmic figures (as in "Feel Free," at Zebulon in Brooklyn, after the jump).

The piece below, Perfect/Imperfect, is from Pitre's Artist-in-Residency at ISSUE in Spring 2009. Perfect/Imperfect is, on an aural level, a "focus-piece, a concentration-piece, for both performers and audience." In it, the string players each match a computer-generated sine tone—that steadfastly and coldly stable stalwart of computer music—and as the humans' pitches fluctuate a few hertz one way or the other the entire room seems to shift and spin. On a conceptual level, the piece is about the strive for perfection among imperfect beings: whether a computer or human can "do the job better." On a human level, the piece is a welcome respite from the "50+ hours" that Pitre said he spends in front of a computer every week. It's these imperfect, human fluctuations that make the music move.


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