Object Music

A few years ago I got this idea stuck in my head to make music that had its component pieces packaged with it, physically. I wanted to take the things used to make a track and collect them as an art object that both made a digital music file more physical and contained the essence of a piece of music in one concrete place. The way I make music usually involves less traditional source objects, alongside acoustic instrument sounds — processed, edited, and arranged in a computer, so the idea of making a track with just a few items, which could be handed off to someone else, was not so foreign. I really just needed to subtract more overtly melodic sound makers. There would be no piano or horn or guitar… but still a computer to process and edit.

What felt like the more difficult part to me was making sure that the objects in question could really be things I was capable of parting with, could be small enough to fit inside some sort of container, could represent something important for me and thereby have an effect on the production process. Also, I needed to figure out how to put it together as a visual thing.

I was thinking initially about using a small burlap sack to hold the items and the idea would be “here are these items used to make this song, and the song itself, so you now have the whole thing — the pieces that make up the whole, literally.” I then moved on to the idea of a wooden box and had boxes made out of reclaimed wood, which look beautiful but at the same time the element of movement inside the box threw me off. The idea that these objects would be easily removed and not in a fixed state made me reconsider that recently, although I still love the idea of the intimacy of opening a box of cherished items and keeping it closed on the shelf — that sense of mementos that you seldom look at but then find and open the box every couple years in the midst of reorganizing or moving or simply searching through memories.

I still like that idea, and it is at the heart of Object Music, in the conception of it, but I don’t feel like it was translating quite the way I wanted it to so I decided to make it more of a fixed piece, a collage of the items on wood, thereby turning the container inside out and rather than being covered the piece is on a flat plane and can be hung on a wall.

the objects used in object music #4
the objects used in object music #3

Listen to all four tracks in a player here: https://soundcloud.com/ezekielhonig/sets/object-music

the objects used in object music #2

a photo of object music #3 (that is too dark) on astroturf

I have one more visual piece to make from the four audio pieces I had done. I’m going back and forth a bit on how to present the audio. The ease of a digital file seems odd for this project because the idea is based in the tactile but at the same time the music can be invisible because the actual things that made it are right there to see and touch, and the concept of the whole is just as important as the object.

Still, the music has to be transferred somehow so I’m going to make a CD package for each version, and am still working out the design as I write this. I’m also considering the idea of a record with Object Music 1–4, but even if this happens I still want there to be a specific version that accompanies each visual piece, an edition of 1. I want anyone who ends up owning one of these to have the music in a way that only they do, so I think I’ll be pressing one-off dubplates of each version, a single record that degrades over time, but is still playable. (There are differing opinions, but I have often heard that for DJ purposes a dubplate can yield about 50 plays that still sound decent. For non-club oriented, home listening purposes I imagine one can squeeze more out of it and, also, it is the plays past that “still decent” point that I’m interested in.)

I should have the collage of #1 and more photos done in the next couple weeks and will update the site.

more info, sound, images at objectmusic.com