Junto Project 0541: 10BPM Techno [repost]

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

A common trope among social media posts are videos with enticing clickbait titles, such as: “Homeless Person Sits Down At Piano, Then THIS Happened.” The reveal is that the figure at the public piano is actually a professional musician. These scenes typically take place at a shopping mall, where an impromptu audience is delighted by the player’s unexpected dexterity.

Franco Bifo Berardi reminds us that “The goal of the [analyst] is to give him/her the possibility to see other landscapes, and to change the focus, to open some new ways of imagination.” One might imagine the reaction at Carnegie Hall if a virtuoso flubbed a performance so badly that it bordered on an Andy Kaufman skit.

This is why Suss Müsik cannot fathom a dance club scenario in which techno music plays at 10BPM. It’s not impossible, however, for such an event to occur in a setting such as a shopping mall. And rather than a DJ playing electronic techno music, it might be a very strange string quartet attempting to fit their odd time signatures within that 10BPM timestamp.

This is the approach Suss Müsik took with this week’s project. A series of four cyclical phrases were played on fake violin, fake cello, fake harp and fake dulcimer. A single strike of a mallet keeps time in 10BPM; meanwhile, the instruments are bowed and plucked in 1/64 and 1/128 to give a sense of movement. The constant repetition is perhaps a nod to techno’s reliance on looped beats.

All of this happens in front of a bewildered audience of mall shoppers (courtesy of public domain audio), who would just as soon be left alone in the food court without this distraction. Then again, as Violet Trefusis once wrote, perhaps it’s true that “love thrives on indifference” and some appreciation would be detected. Maybe we’ll try it one day.

The piece is titled Trefusis. The image may or may not be a shopping center somewhere in the US.

Postcript: feedback from a fellow participant noted how an “elaborate explanation [was] required” due to Suss Müsik “breaking all the rules” of the original prompt. This critique isn’t wholly accurate. True, the piece isn’t immediately recognizable as techno. There’s no drum machine, for one thing. The primary attributes of 10BPM and 4/4 time were preserved, however, which allowed opportunities to explore the use of 128th notes to creative effect.

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