The immersive sonic textures that characterize Michael Winter’s (b. 1980) music are crafted from comprehensive lists of data, with each composition encompassing a musical question that is addressed algorithmically. A performance lasts for as long as it takes to “answer” the question, expressing all results as efficiently as possible.
Winter leaves room for unanticipated results by keeping things open, notably in the instrumentation, which, rather than specifying instruments, tends to designate certain properties such as “plucked strings,” or “sustaining instruments.” In this way, each performance offers a different manifestation of the same underlying structure. For Winter, beauty is the experience of something new, and to experience something new is to evolve. Even though he allows for a great many possibilities, the recordings here evince a highly tuned aesthetic filter. All of the five works included in this collection use plucked string instruments (guitar, virginal, and harp) and pure tones (ebowed guitar and pure tones). Together, they form a metacomposition, bound together by two versions of necklaces.
The titles describe the processes that form each work: necklaces represents picking patterns with aperiodic necklaces (strings of data with specific constraints of rotational and symbolic permutation), and in mass and band a constraint akin to a band pass filter is applied to an Ockeghem mass. Likewise, in chorale and finely tuned resonators, instruments resonate the harmonics of a chorale, and quieting rooms makes use of phase cancellation to quiet a room. The title of the piece lower limit refers to Winter’s intention to use the smallest amount of code possible—in other words, to find the lower limit for programming a composition. This idea, in fact, applies to all of the pieces here, since all are concerned with how to express ideas in a maximally efficient way.