As I mingle with the audience after playing a concert, or chat online about my music,  I often find myself explaining the technical ways in which my work is created. I’m not sure if this is due to the fact that I’ve found my vocation as a media technician, or if I am simply less comfortable talking about the philosophy behind my music.

In fact, the philosophy and the technology go hand in hand.  It’s not unreasonable, that people who see me performing with my oddly shaped, self-designed guitar, laptop, touchscreen and custom pedals assume that the washes of ambient sound and pointalistic clicks and pops are created by a synthesizer. Nonetheless, I don’t use synths. It’s not that I don’t like synthesizers. Some of my best friends play them.  It’s just that synthesis doesn’t conform to my aesthetic.

I process sounds.  I manipulate, tweak, twist and bend them beyond recognition using custom designed software and hardware.  I also create sound. But not using a synthesizer. All of my music starts with guitar improvisation.  Granted, I then process it to the point that some say it’s unrecognizable as guitar. However, this is where it all starts.  So, if my music ends up sounding a little like a synthesizer (a question others raise while I disagree with the core assertion,) why not use synths to create it?

My interest in making music is informed by two principals:  Physical engagement with the world around me, and the John Cage-inspired assertion that paying close attention to your sensory perception (in this case hearing) heightens the experience of being alive.

Quite logically, I require an interface like a guitar to make music that involves physicality. I need to feel the sound being created. I need to be able to translate the most minute motions into subtle changes in timber or volume. I play music to confirm I’m alive.

My goal with signal processing is to illuminate the minuscule components of sound that surround us all.  Just like taking a magnifying glass and peering at a rock, and realizing that it looks more like a mountain range, I try to pull out various harmonics, rhythms, timbers and tones from my guitar which would otherwise go unnoticed. I often compare it to being encouraged to take notice of the non-musical things in life which we take for granted. This is the audio equivalent.

The pieces in this mix were all created in real-time (with little or no post-production) using only my hexaphonic baritone electric guitar as the source.  I had my computer select several pieces from the 3200+ improvisations I have recorded since 1993. I threw away half of them, and simply used the remaining set exactly as they were.  These pieces were recorded between 1993 and 2009. They demonstrate the evolution (devolution?) of my music, and my tools during that time period.

For more information on Vance Galloway, drop by his Myspace page.