I am pretty certain that PGT is the only double laptop/acoustic mandolin ensemble in the world. The reason for the lineup is simple: those are the instruments we play. Our ethos is simple: we’ve enjoyed making music with each other since the first time we tried it in the Columbia Computer Music center studios (I was on my way through town, and Brad and Terry had some time to kill and stuff to “try out”) a number of years ago, and we continue to do so. Our personal interests as composers and performing musicians has guaranteed a steady stream of new influences when we’re together, and the fact that I’m halfway across the country means that there’s a kind of punctuated equilibrium to our performing life.
During those interim periods, things change: software is rewritten, new instruments appear (virtual ones in the case of Brad and I, physical ones in the case of our multi-instrumentalist colleague Terry), and that complex muddle of habits and predispositions we wind up defining as “style” twists and folds out of sight of an audience – even if that audience is defined so narrowly as the three of us.
Another consequence of our separation is that we never rehearse – we get together, hang out, and play. The only instructions are “start” and “stop,” and we strive to get them in the right order and distribute them over time in a proper way. For some dimly remembered practical reasons, we made it a habit to record everything we do. That simple idea has borne all kinds of strange fruit – we have a complete record of every moment (good and bad) we’ve been together musically regardless of where we were. In addition to being able to track changes in the software and performance practice over time, another feature has emerged – a kind of alchemy of time and circumstance that bears only the vaguest resemblance to the pragmatic impulse to check levels and see “what might
fly” at some later point.
We tend to name our recordings with a name that has to do with where we were. These recordings were made not in a hotel room or on a stage, but in the living room of Brad Garton’s childhood home in Columbus, Indiana on a sunny morning. The small lake just out back and down the hill (past the tall trees that are the origin of the “windy trees” sound Brad has fine-tuned audio algorithms to produce since I’ve known him) gives these three pieces their name.
We’d gone down to do some playing in Bloomington, Indiana at the invitation of our friend John Gibson, and stayed in nearby Columbus, where Brad grew up. These record- ings were the first music we’d made together in a while, and we all had the usual batch of “new” things to bring to try out – the result varies each time we meet again and sit down for the first time together to get reacquainted.
Listening to these recordings now, there’s some- thing about them that is more reminiscent of a catalog of small local ecosystems than anything we’d done before (or since). For us, they’re linked with that specific place and time as surely as any- thing that moves or rests on the earth.
The act of playing and listening at the same time will often refocus one’s consciousness to entirely favor the short focus of mindfulness rather than the longer arc of time that marks a whole piece of performance. A happy consequence of our early decision to record everything we do is that we occasionally discover some performances where dialog and interplay disguises itself as something we could only generally and optimistically have intended. These three recordings are some of our best examples of that, and we hope that they’ll repay the investment of your time and attention. Thanks for listening.