Phillip O'Banion | Digital Divide

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Electronic: Drum'n'bass Classical: Percussion Ensemble Moods: Featuring Drums
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Digital Divide

by Phillip O'Banion

Multi-faceted percussionist Phillip O'Banion delves into a "Digital Divide," performing new works that explore the juxtaposition between acoustic and electro-acoustic.
Genre: Electronic: Drum'n'bass
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Legerdemain
3:22 $0.99
2. This Too Shall Pass
3:56 $0.99
3. Karma Loop
5:43 $0.99
4. Regeneration
5:34 $1.29
5. Stop Speaking
5:20 $1.29
6. Chaconne for Vibraphone and Tablet Computer
12:32 $1.29
7. The Void
8:58 $1.29
8. Concentrics
5:29 $0.99
9. Pelogy
4:13 $0.99
10. Tamboo
3:41 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Note from Phillip O'Banion:

‘Digital divide’
1. The gap between those who have computers with Internet access and those who do not, as well as the gap between those who are computer literate and those who are not
2. A percussion album exploring the relationship between expression and digital technology, juxtaposing live percussion sounds against previously recorded tracks. A digital reflection of the acoustic vs. the electro-acoustic, of man against machine, of the effect of technology on human intelligence, behavior, and music.

In 2013, I commissioned a handful of composers and created a recital program which I subsequently performed over a dozen times in the following year. The program included works that I hoped could juxtapose the acoustic against the electro-acoustic. The question, “What technologies offer the greatest potential musical enhancement for the solo percussion artist?” generated the idea for this album concept. I was not interested in gimmicks or frills, and frankly was interested in thoroughly composed pieces (no random computer generated music here). My initial idea was to place purely acoustic works for specific percussion instruments against a work with electronics for that same instrument, contrasting the musical and expressive possibilities with and without technology. But, somehow through the process, almost all of the works featured on this disc came to have some electronic means of sound production or manipulation included in them. The only purely acoustic works on the disc are tracks 1 and 2. But I do believe this collection of works presents a unified artistic statement – one that relies equally on craft, composition, and technology.
Much has been made of the increasing socio-economic divide between those with electronic access (i.e. the Internet) and those without. Those larger issues are beyond the scope of this project. My primary interest was in discovering the effect of digital technology on the performer. As the title implies, Digital Divide seeks to shed light on the intersection of digital technology and human emotion and expression. All of the selections strive to mine the expressive potential of acoustic percussion when combined with modern electro-acoustic elements. This disc marks the recording premiere of four of these works. I am thankful to the following composers, who took the time to write for me: Patrick Long, Chaconne for Vibraphone and Tablet Computer, Ivan Trevino, Crossed Wires, and Lane Harder, The Void. Baljinder Sekhon’s work, Regeneration, has also not been recorded to date.
Does technology enhance our music-making, or detract from it? I have felt for years that often ‘tape pieces’ somehow compress the expressive capabilities of the performer, either by problems with the composition itself, or simply through some subconscious or ‘stylistic’ influence on the performer. The traditional modes of human expression – speaking, singing, and dancing, succumb to some artificial, binary musical language. I was interested in getting beyond that, worried that not only can digital technology disrupt our relationships (too much of a good thing…), but as a classically trained musician worried that it might irrevocably disrupt the way we train musicians, the way we communicate with our audiences, and even what we value aesthetically in the end.
On the other hand, I am acutely aware of the benefits of digital technology (this recording serves as a prime example!). Seeing that technology is not inherently evil, it can be incredibly useful to the 21st century musician. It gives us fresh ears, allows us to see the work of the masters in a new light, gives us new ways of connecting with other human beings, and reaches the audiences of today (and tomorrow) in ways that traditional concertizing no longer does. Digital technology allows us to rehearse, record, review, and perform in ways not before possible. It seems that many have come to the same conclusion, I’ve realized that in some ways this project is part of a larger ‘renaissance’ of percussion + tape/electronic music. Roughly forty years ago there were many pieces being written for percussion with electronic sounds placed on analog tapes. Today’s reincarnation of the genre has been percussion + digital playback, or live sound manipulation. Repertoire for these combinations has recently exploded, and I am certain this genre will continue to expand.
This is not an album of experimental, electronic percussion music. I am no technological wizard. There are ways more sophisticated machinery could have been used, there is little live manipulation of sound (other than looping), no Pure Data, no Ableton, no live software tracking during these performances. To those who are not neophytes to the electronic music genre, nothing about the use of technology will be surprising. It is perhaps conservative. But I have discovered a few possibilities, and added some additional pieces to our repertoire as we seek to expand our sonic palette as percussion artists. I hope you enjoy.



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