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Kenneth Kirschner: Imperfect Forms

img  Tobias Fischer

We are excited and proud to present Imperfect Forms, an expansive multimedia project about the work of Kenneth Kirschner, a composer and sound artist from Brooklyn, New York. His oeuvre, which he describes as 'being about recording', uses classically-tinged acoustic sources, electronically processed sounds and silence. For the past fifteen years, Kirschner's music has been released free of charge on his website, which doubles up as an expansive, continually updated archive of his oeuvre. His music has also been published in physical form on labels like 12k, Sub Rosa, Room40 and Champion Version, among others.

Over the past two years, twenty sound artists, six video artists and four journalists/writers have carved out their personal vision of Kirschner's pieces, resulting in 4.5 hours of new and exclusive music; an ebook with interviews and analyses; a generative software piece; specially curated videos as well as a three-part 'Best Of“ of selected pieces from the past 15 years.

Overview of the project:
"Imperfect Forms: The Music of Kenneth Kirschner" is a 180-page ebook with essays, interviews and analyses that can be downloaded here (PDF). [Select Save Target As to download]
A three-part "Best Of" entitled MM/DD/YY is available from bandcamp. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.
A 20-track Remix-compilation is also available from bandcamp.
Videos are available from our tokafi Youtube account and spread out across the web. See below for further information.
Simon Cummings's software-based indeterminate composition "February 24, 2013" is available for free download at his website.

Curated by Tobias Fischer.
Original compositions by Kenneth Kirschner. All re-interpretations by the respective artists.
Mastered by Dirk Fischer & Tobias Fischer.
Ebook contributions by Simon Cummings, Tobias Fischer, Molly Sheridan and Marc Weidenbaum.
Ebook layout by Jessica Benoit.
Cover image by Herman Kolgen.


Sawako: fragments99to14

Monty Adkins & Julio D'Escrivan: Geometries of Flight

Joshue Ott: 1/24/14

Andy Graydon: The Findings

Dmitry Gelfand and Evelina Domnitch: Hydrogeny 011012

Molly Sheridan: Pirate This Music (Interview)

Selected artist notes on their contribution:

Tom Hodge

The impetus behind this reinterpretation of 3rd July 2011 was a rhythmic one. The original “feel” of the 15 beat rhythmic cycle is very much as 7 strong beats with a half at the end. I found it interesting to consider this cycle both as 5 sets of 3 note groupings, and 3 sets of 5 note groupings, interacting with the original frame. The weaving of these accents informs the entire piece. My interpretation of the distortion/destruction in the original sonic came through harmonically – I found myself exploring a certain chromatic “distortion” (thanks to my cellist from Piano Interrupted, Greg Hall, especially), although admittedly I do use actual distortion later on. As an ending, it seemed only appropriate to give the final word, with a free but explicit rendition of the theme, to the piano.

Ambrose Field

‘Summer, 1972’ arises from the re-performance and subsequent live recording of Ken Kirschner’s solo piano piece ‘November 11, 2003’. Uncomplicated sound treatments and largely non-digital studio production give rise to a dreamy sound world, taking us back to a time when, clearly, everything was better. Many thanks to Kenneth Kirschner for his kind permission to re-use and generally hack his material into new forms.

Marco Oppedisano

Upon hearing this beautiful solo piano work by Kenneth Kirschner, I thought, do I really want to add something to this? Instead, I chose to subtly alter what already existed without fundamentally destroying it – hence resulting in a kind of "treatment" of the work.

Billy Gomberg (photo credit Alexandra Lebon)

Among the many interests, ideas and pastimes that Ken and I share, a common birthday was the most useful as a selection criterion for which pieces of Ken's music would be used for this project. (See the title of my work for the boundary set by the date in question; thankfully Ken has a very concrete method of titling his work, which made this process a quick one.)  Selected works were processed and/or recomposed, to which I added original synthesizer, electric bass, and field recordings.

Stephen Vitiello

Processing in Captiva, FL, December 2012
Thank you: Rauschenberg Residency, Taylor Deupree

Anne Guthrie

The material I used in this remix came from a piece that has been particularly influential for me over the past 5 years: “May” by Taylor Deupree and Kenneth Kirschner (Live at the OFFF Festival, Lisbon, 2008, released on CD by Room40).
I used a transducer attached to an old radiator to play back the piece, giving it a metallic, mainly high-frequency character. Then I used various convolution processes to compose the remixed track. I am grateful to Ken and Taylor that I get a chance to work with and be inspired by such excellent music.

Dirk Serries

Kenneth and I have been corresponding on and off for at least 6 or 7 years now, initially connecting because of our mutual respect and fascination for the music of Morton Feldman – hence me inviting Kenneth to contribute piano source material to my vidnaObmana 'Opera For Four Fusion Works'. Being invited myself to this epic project was more than returning a favor, but also taking the chance to re-score that which I also felt so drawn to in Kenneth's work. What I did is re-create notes, chords, tonalities and harmonies based upon several of his compositions, structuring a song that is quite different from its original but complementary. Stepping away from my solo guitar approach, I added synthesizers to the array of tools I use, making it diverse and not my own music per se, but a respectful re-scoring of my gratitude for Kenneth's music.


Based on ‘January 4, 2011’ by Kenneth Kirschner, released on Twenty Ten by 12k. The reinterpretation is entitled ‘Zustand’ (in German), which can be best described as “a state of being” and is based on the notion of uncomposed music – music that doesn't necessarily have a beginning or an ending, but that is comparable to the light outside (darker/brighter or every nuance in between). Music that doesn't ask for complete attention, but wraps itself around the listener as a sculpture in sound similar to the air surrounding us.

Evelina Domnich and Dmitry Gelfand
Nature’s simplest atom and mother of all matter, hydrogen feeds the stars as well as interlaces the molecules of their biological descendants – to whom it ultimately whispers the secrets of quantum reality. Hydrogen’s most prevalent earthly guise lies within the composition of water. Slight electrical perturbation splits water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Emanating from an array of electrodes at the bottom of a water-filled chamber, strings and strata of hydrogen bubbles slowly rise towards the surface. A white laser sheet illuminates the hydrogen bubbles, transforming them into iridescent lenses. As the laser sheet pulsates at a high frequency (the actual pulsation is imperceptible), it extends the temporal resolution of bubble dynamics, causing the environment to appear in slow motion.

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