John Bischoff (b. 1949) is an early pioneer of live computer music. He was a founding member of the League of Automatic Music Composers (1978), considered to be the world’s first Computer Network Band. His long experience teaching music theory, harmony, and counterpoint is evident in his work: in the elegant balance of elements in his pieces can be heard an intuitive understanding of traditional musical forms expressed in sonic palettes far removed from the ones around which those forms were originally constructed. He describes his work as “a music built from the intrinsic features of the electronic medium at hand: high definition noise components, tonal edges, digital shading, and non-linear motion, all evolving in the variable context of live performance.” While these features are all prominent, his work can also be considered fundamentally as a form of “expanded counterpoint,” one in which the juxtaposition of sonic elements and their compositional development is a central concern. His work possesses a clear and intuitive sense of formal clarity combined with a nuanced deployment of audio events and textures.
The title of this collection refers most literally to the methods of assembling the elements of Bischoff’s work. In one brief phrase it describes both a methodology that is used to build the pieces and the concrete results of that activity. By terming the process combine rather than combination, he focuses on the act and experience of juxtaposing sounds over their semantic results once they are combined. Though some of the processes heard here involve recycling timings or sounds, their deployment is always in the present and they are imbued with a clarity that only listening in the moment can provide. As new combinations and permutations of sonic materials emerge, the perceptual focus is always on the physical sound, whether acoustic or electronic in origin.