by Dan Senn
for Stereo or Quad Fixed Media (Listen)
7 minutes
and 4 seconds
Five Descents was realized using a clone of a
Korg MS-20 Synthesizer (Behringer K2), a
LaunchPad Pro (triggering device), and Ableton Live software. It was composed at Gasworks Studio in Holešovice, Prague, Czechia, in January, 2023.

For listening here wear earphones/headphones
at a minimum. The quad version should be presented in concert using four matching speakers with 15" woofers. A subwoofer also works well. The quad and stereo concert versions are available from the composer. As this is a full spectrum work, playback on an iPhone-like device will reveal only a portion of the work. The K2 patch used for the improvisations is pictured below.

The title, Five Descents, refers to the improvisational strategies used to generate the work. The idea was simply to descend in parallel from starting points an octave apart for two of the four voices using the same density and modulations strategies (knob twisting). Rather than listening to a previous take, I trusted my memory, a method I have used for many years and one that yields a unique sense of spontaneity. This is comparable to improvisors performing on opposite sides of a glass wall able to see but not hear one another. All the voices were improvised in this way, as the more pitched tracks, moving from high to low, seem to pass through two fields of percussive, sometimes swooshing, textures meant to run interference to the lines where the equal temperament is purposeful. While the track gestures remained in position, post production included spatial locating and minute, manual shaping of nearly every event.

The Korg MS-20 was released in 1978 and used by Senn in his Jefferson Street Studio, Chicago in the late 70s. The banner above is light entering
Senn's Czech studio, Gasworks, in early January of 2023. DS January 16, 2023, Prague.

Listen using headphones.

Dan Senn (Prague-Watertown) is an intermedia/fluxus artist working in music composition and production, kinetic sound sculpture, experimental and documentary film. He has been a professor of music and art in the United States and Australia and travels internationally as a lecturer, performer and installation artist. He lives in Prague where he directs the Echofluxx festivals, and Watertown, Wisconsin, the USA, with his partner-collaborator, Caroline Senn. Dan's work moves freely between expressive extremes and languages depending upon the aesthetic joust at hand. Dan is cofounder of Roulette Intermedium in New York City, Cascadia Composers of Portland Oregon, and the Echofluxx media festivals in Prague. (read more).

here to see and hear the Free Range video that uses Five Descents as its sound track.