john stulz
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December Steps is a series of 8 electro-acoustic works created in December of 2012. Each work was made by processing raw material created on the viola.

At the time of their creation I spent much time looking at the paintings of Gerhard Richter and the grey sky of New York City. Both of these influences led me to create static musical spaces built around the idea of decay, erasure, and the ephemerality of sound.

With December Steps I tried to make musical objects you could listen to attentively, use as ambient noise, or turn on and forget about.

released 12 march 2013
john stulz, viola and electronics
vimbayi kaziboni, producer
recorded in New York City, december 2012

track notes:


One viola tone is heard over and over again at various degrees of digital fidelity. Out of silence we start to hear little crumbles of sound, gradually the crumbles arrange themselves into tone. When the tone is heard clearly it fades away.


Directly inspired by Gerhard Richter’s various “Glasscheibe” (panes of glass). Whereas Richter presents his audience with new ways of looking at both the glass and the reality behind the glass, here the reality of a concrete found sound is filtered by the sounds created on the viola. A viola playing the sound of the A-train leaving 168th street station in Washington Heights.


A cannon of various bow strokes put under a microscope. What interests me is not the pure ideal tone of classical string playing, but the imperfections, bobbles, pops, and extraneous noises that clearly identify the tone as being produced organically.


A glossary of 23 different ways of playing one note is randomly arranged. The computer uses synthetic resonance and delay-lines to blur them together.


By reducing the length of delays and increasing their number exponentially, what was once a clear set of gestures on the viola becomes a monochromatic wall of sound.


I made an audio recording of a walk through a snowstorm in Columbus, Ohio. An acoustic postcard. When I got back home I "overpainted" the recording using viola and electronics during another snowstorm in New York City a week later.


Another look at creating textures through one note in cannon. The variety of sounds range from white noise to grating noise all played in the extreme high register of the viola. While the primary material is presented as is, the voices which follow are processed using ring modulation to create a rough edge to the sound.


The initial material is repeated countless times, each repetition is altered and marks a new variation of the original recorded sound. About half way through, the sound starts to decompose into white noise. That moment when the static first enters is really a moment of great tragedy. Whereas (existence precedes essence) presents the birth of a sound, here we are confronted with the sound's slow and predictable decay.

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