Tristan Perich‘s 1-Bit Symphony is an electronic composition in five movements on a single microchip. Though housed in a CD jewel case like his first circuit album (1-Bit Music 2004-05), 1-Bit Symphony is not a recording in the traditional sense; it literally “performs” its music live when turned on. A complete electronic circuit—programmed by the artist and assembled by hand—plays the music through a headphone jack mounted into the case itself. The album is available from Cantaloupe Music.
A return to the format of Perich’s lauded 1-Bit Music (described by the Village Voice as “technology and aesthetic rolled into one”), 1-Bit Symphony further reduces the hardware involved while simultaneously expanding its musical ideas. 1-Bit Symphony utilizes on and off electrical pulses, synthesized by assembly code and routed from microchip to speaker, to manifest data as sound. The device treats electricity as a sonic medium, making an intimate connection between the materiality of hardware and the abstract logic of software.
While 1-Bit Symphony is purely electronic in its execution, its contents reflect Perich’s long-standing interest in orchestral composition. Since the release of 1-Bit Music in 2006, Perich’s compositional work has combined 1-bit audio with acoustic classical instruments, providing insight into the conceptual and aesthetic relationships between physical and electronic sound. With 1-Bit Symphony, Perich brings this insight back into the digital realm, juxtaposing the grand form of a classical symphony with the minimal nature of 1-bit circuitry.