Alias States (2019)
for piano and electronic drumkit
Programme note from Kings Place
Aliasing, in audio processing, is an effect that causes different frequencies to become indistinguishable (or ‘aliases’ of one another) when sampled at a particular rate (rather like the audio equivalent of the phenomenon of a helicopter’s rotor blades appearing stationary when filmed at a frame rate that aligns with their speed). It is also, of course, a word for a false or assumed identity.
In Alias States, an electronic drum kit loaded with processed piano samples attempts to mimic the more venerable instrument, stealing its identity using sampling. The interaction is complicated – the pianist also operates two arpeggiator pedals that drift in and out of phase with the piano samples triggered by the drums, creating additional psycho-acoustic effects, difference tones and resultant rhythms. Increasingly the battle for supremacy is not merely acoustic but stylistic, with the suppressed ‘soul’ of the drums’ typical patterns gradually exerting more and more influence over the music.
Words by George Barton © 2021