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Work Samples

Mixed Signals

Mixed Signals was written for Lisa Weiss. It involves a computer (or phone) tracking piano notes and responding. The pianist plays a solo part written in a flowing, yet rigorously composed style, while the computer answers with randomly reordered notes creating a harmonic cloud. This is the first of a series of works for piano and electronics to be composed in 2018.

Burt-HumbabasTrod.mp3

Humbaba's Trod is a work composed of daxophone recordings. The daxophone is a bowed wood instrument which is symbolic in relation to Humbaba. Humbaba guarded the cedar forest where the gods lived until Gilgamesh came and fought Humbaba and then cut the trees down to build the gate of a city. The daxophone provides a wide range of sounds (both in pitch and color). It was perfect for generating a rain forest type of environment where each "creature" inhabits a particular range. This work was performed first at Goucher College during the computer music concert.

Fountain Resonances

A piece combining the best extended techniques with beautiful layers of shimmering string textures. Composed to be maximally challenging yet easy to assemble. This is an excerpt of the ending of Fountain Resonances. Performed here by C.R. Kasprzyk and string players from the Peabody Conservatory.

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About Samuel

Baltimore City

Samuel Burt's picture
Samuel Burt is a composer in Baltimore, Maryland. As a board member of the High Zero Foundation since 2005, he has helped curate the High Zero Festival, Red Room series, and Worlds in Collusion. His compositions have been performed across the U.S. As an improviser, he has performed numerous times in the international High Zero Festival as well as venues along the East Coast. High Zero Festival 2018 took him to Chicago and New York to play with musicians in those cities.  Currently he performs... more

Daxophone Construction and the Daxophone Choir

The daxophone, pictured, has unlimited potential for making new (singing, grunting, hooting, drumming, scatching) noises. It's played by clamping a piece of thin wood, bowing it, and placing another heavy piece of wood on it to change the vibrating length. Each carefully chosen and shaped pieces of wood are called tongues. They are both a sonic and visual art. Each is unique in wood grain, shape, and sound.

Samuel Burt built his first daxophone in 2011 consulting with the inventor Hans Reichel. He held a daxophone workshop at the Red Room in 2019 with aims to form a daxophone choir, playing compositions by living composers and arrangements of older music.

Burt plays daxophone in the band Coy Fish led by Sarah Hughes. They released a self-titled album. They opened for the Library of Congress's "Summer Movies on the Lawn" screening of the Wizard of Oz. Maria Shesiuk and Burt collaborated as Lightning Golem to produce an album of daxophone and synthesizer music called Cryptid Research. Burt engineered a recording of a session in Athens, Georgia, of himself on daxophone, Jeff Crouch on trumpet, and Killick Hinds on fretted Walrus guitar. He released it as Sneaky E.

Burt composed music for two daxophonists and percussion, performing it with Eric Franklin and Shelly Purdy at Artscape 2018. The work, entitled Renku No. 1, is built around a form of Japanese poetry where individuals add stanzas to a poem.

He's built 20 daxophones. Considering a daxophone for yourself? http://samuelburt.com/daxophones/

  • daxophone_display.jpg

    Display of daxophone tongues (foreground), daxes (left), daxulele (right), desk mounted daxophone with kalimba tongue (center), and tripod daxophone (center, rear).
    Display of daxophone tongues (foreground), daxes (left), daxulele (right), desk mounted daxophone with kalimba tongue (center), and tripod daxophone (center, rear). The tongues are the interchangeable part of the daxophone that provide different sounds and pitch ranges. A dax changes the vibrating length of the tongue to change the pitch. Each body amplifies the vibration of a clamped tongue.
  • Parasympathetic_Activation.mp3

    A track from Cryptid Research, a collaborative electronic music recording project with Maria Shesiuk involving synthesizers and daxophones. This track features the daxophone through a talk box, doubling-down on the "mouthiness" of its sound.
  • RenkuNo1-exerpt.mp3

    Renku No. 1 was composed by Samuel Burt. This performance took place during Artscape 2018 at the UB Student Center. It was performed by Eric Franklin and Samuel Burt on daxophones and Shelly Purdy on percussion. Renku No. 1 is built around a form of Japanese poetry where individuals add stanzas to a poem. It features haikus by Matsuo Bashō. The performers are guided through a process of performing new musical poetic material to accompany these haikus.
  • Burt-HumbabasTrod.mp3

    Humbaba's Trod is a work composed of daxophone recordings. The daxophone is a bowed wood instrument which is symbolic in relation to Humbaba. Humbaba guarded the cedar forest where the gods lived until Gilgamesh came and fought Humbaba and then cut the trees down to build the gate of a city. The daxophone provides a wide range of sounds (both in pitch and color). It was perfect for generating a rain forest type of environment where each "creature" inhabits a particular range. This work was performed first at Goucher College during the computer music concert.
  • Daughters of Oxylus

    This is a composition of daxophone sounds. This demonstrates the wide range of timbre and pitch of which the daxophone is capable.
  • daxophone_assembly.jpg

    Diagrams of daxophone assembly and performance technique.
    Diagrams of daxophone assembly and performance technique.

Music for Piano and Electronics

Samuel Burt learned much from his many pianist friends. Over the past two decades, he's written a significant amount of music for piano, most recently Mixed Signals and Node Ode.

Lisa Weiss and Burt have begun a project to introduce new works for piano and live electronics. Weiss performed Mixed Signals at Goucher College in 2017. Mixed Signals is a work for computer or cell phone that listens to the notes the pianist plays and generates an echoing harmonic cloud, reordering the notes and stretching them out. This work will also be used to christen the new piano at the Immaculate Heart of Mary in March.

The aim of this project is to allow the performer to plug a cell phone into an audio cable and set the phone on the piano and begin performing these new works with minimal effort. Electronic music is often inaccessible to performers with limited computer music background, often requiring that someone else's presence to work through the technology. With modern developments and if programed with great consideration, the composers can reduce the technical requirements.

  • Mixed Signals

    Mixed Signals was written for Lisa Weiss. It involves a computer (or phone) tracking piano notes and responding. The pianist plays a solo part written in a flowing, yet rigorously composed style, while the computer answers with randomly reordered notes creating a harmonic cloud. This is the first of a series of works for piano and electronics to be composed in 2018.
  • mixed_signals.png

    Score for Mixed Signals page 5
    Page 5 of Mixed Signals, a work for piano and cell phone.
  • Burt-RainMakingConstruct-LeeHancock.mp3

    Rain Making Construct is a work for solo piano. Burt accomplished his goal to provide intermediate pianists with a piano work that is both simple and complex. The work bridges the gap between Bartok's easy works and Ligeti's most challenging etudes. Like Ligeti, it presents an approach to the piano that is both polyrhythmic and process-oriented where delight and whimsy are both emergent properties. The Billings Music Teachers Association commissioned Rain Making Construct in 2012. Lee Hancock performed and recorded this mp3.
  • rainmakingconstruct.png

    page 1 of Rain Making Construct
    The first page of Rain Making Construct for solo piano.
  • Dime Novel

    An award winning composition for violin and piano, it breathlessly flies across an abstract landscape and ends in a rhyme. Performed here by Aurelie Baziger and John Chernoff.
  • Dime Novel Score

    Part of a page from Dime Novel.
  • nodeode.png

    Node Ode score excerpt
    A page from Node Ode, the newest composition for piano by Samuel Burt. Node Ode explores complexity within the simplicity of repeated notes.

Composed Music

How are these compositions different from other modern classical music? Burt lives in many musical worlds. He grew up on the traditions of classical music and jazz and became involved in experimental improvised music as a teenager. He blends together the rigor and ornate craftsmanship of classical music with the rhythmically-free, spontaneous, and untuned harmonies of improvised music. His work as an educator affords him opportunities to oversee student works that range through all different styles of contemporary popular music. These influences manifest obliquely in his music, through manipulation of dynamic energy levels and unusual applications of repetition.

While his style is most often centered around densely packed parametric sets of newly invented procedures, the effect of his music ranges from beautiful and flowing to suspenseful. It always engages the mind and guides the listener through the unexplored frontiers of music, both emotionally and intellectually.

Burt's next project could be a commission from you, even for orchestra! Please, contact him if you like what you hear.

  • Mixed Signals

    Mixed Signals was written for Lisa Weiss. It involves a computer (or phone) tracking piano notes and responding. The pianist plays a solo part written in a flowing, yet rigorously composed style, while the computer answers with randomly reordered notes creating a harmonic cloud. This is the first of a series of works for piano and electronics to be composed in 2018.
  • Burt-Finite_Gestures-Artscape_2018_Burt_Purdy.mp3

    Excerpt from Finite Gestures, a composition by Samuel Burt. Performed at Artscape 2018 by Samuel Burt, bass clarinet, and Shelly Purdy, percussion.
  • Parametric Transmutations

    This is one of the densest arrangements of information I have ever produced, a mixture of observationally simple and subtle. You can hear my obsession with long process forms. Performed by Erin Freeman conducting a Peabody Orchestra.
  • Dime Novel

    An award winning composition for violin and piano, it breathlessly flies across an abstract landscape and ends in a rhyme. Performed here by Aurelie Baziger and John Chernoff.
  • Fountain Resonances

    A piece combining the best extended techniques with beautiful layers of shimmering string textures. Composed to be maximally challenging yet easy to assemble. This is an excerpt of the ending of Fountain Resonances. Performed here by C.R. Kasprzyk and string players from the Peabody Conservatory.
  • Dime Novel Score

    Part of a page from Dime Novel.
  • Orchestra Score

    A corner of a page from Parametric Transmutations.
  • mixed_signals.png

    Score for Mixed Signals page 5
    Page 5 of Mixed Signals, a work for piano and cell phone.
  • Labyrinths

    A semi-graphic score for indeterminate instruments. Each performer finds their own way through each page creating cannons and retrograde imitation along the way.

Connect with Samuel

Samuel's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.