The Klangstrukturen Chamber Orchestra was founded by the composer and multi-instrumentalist Paul Street, A.K.A. me. The music the Orchestra plays avoids easy classification drawing on elements of contemporary classical music; modern jazz; and, folk traditions from around the world. It is simultaneously both all of these and none of these. The Orchestra is a flexible outfit in terms of its personnel but the compositions it performs tend to feature piano, wind, strings, bass, tuned and un-tuned percussion. If you want to hear some examples of my other musical compositions from orchestral scores to solo guitar pieces, I have a production company DrownedWorld which works as an outlet for film, TV and other media work. You will find some extracts on the Film and TV page of that site.
The music I write for/as the Klangstruturen Chamber Orchestra is music that I have had in my head for most of my life. Before starting at school I had already managed to ruin a number of my fathers vinyl LPs by listening repeatedly to them on a heavy armed brute of a record player the size of a sideboard. Sgt. Pepper; Ernest Ansermet and the Orchestra of the Suisse Romande; Karajan’s Eroica; Dizzy Gillespie in concert; Joe Morello, Phil Woods, Gary Burton and others in the studio. All went the way of each other as the needle wrecked its havoc on the fragile grooves stamped into those dark round platters of pleasure and joy. As I began to get older my tastes expanded beyond the world of my father’s record collection and for every Clash, Wire or Velvet Underground album I bought there would be an Eleventh House, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Tangerine Dream or Yes album; the music library introduced me to Stockhausen, Schoenberg, Ligetti, Cage and Terry Riley; friends and their parents to Kraftwerk, Miles Davies, Coltrane, Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Sidiki Diabate, King Tubby and Fella Kuti. I didn’t need to have read Cage’s The Future of Music (1937) to know that classifying music by genre is a meaningless exercise, or read Bourdieu, Adorno and Benjamin to know that cultural capital is a creative function of modernist social institutions whose hierarchical strategies benefit capitalism. What I knew for myself was that I didn’t buy into it.
While I might not have bought into the entrenchment of musical genres or the valuation of one over the other, for a longtime I was also incapable of articulating my position either musically or philosophically. Virtually everything I have ever done has been a response to what someone else has wanted me to work on, write, perform, or teach. The Klangstrukturen Chamber Orchestra on the other hand is not. It is, quite simply, the music I have always wanted to make and listen to. Music that has no external boundaries placed on it other than those I choose to define. Music that doesn’t fit neatly into a genre. Music that I hope possess some soul. However, I am under no illusions. There is nothing in these pieces that will turn the world of musical composition upside down.But then that is not what this project is about. In many ways these compositions could be thought of as bagatelles, but I didn’t fancy the idea of calling this project The Bagatelle Chamber Orchestra. So these are “klangstrukturen” literally: sound structures. Small scale melodic pieces, or miniatures If you like, that attempt to capture a sense of time, place, and emotion.
From the start I wanted to be able to take these compositions ‘on the road’ with just a handful of musicians and while in some ways I prefer the potential compositional palette available when writing an orchestral score, this project was always going to be some form of modern chamber music. I played around with the deployment of a wide range of electronica to enhance the available compositional textures but what slowly emerged from the process was actually a more intimate acoustic sound. So I decided to put the computers, software design and electronics to one side. Soon my numerous Gibsons, Fenders, 1964 Gretsch and other guitars went mostly the same way as the the melodies migrated from guitar and cello onto soprano sax and bass clarinet. Not only were these timbres more interesting to me as a klangverstallen but they also led to progressively different melodies. The melodies and harmonies I write tend to be modal but are derived more from folk music traditions than the jazz progressions that might be suggested on first listening. Compositionally there is nothing complex just a few modest tunes with limited development and even less form, there are no tonal rows to manipulate and horror of horrors you will definitely find some parallel fifths lairily hanging out with a few friends. Whilst the KCO might appear to be all about me, the project is certainly not intended to be onanistic. In a world too often filled with darkness and inhumanity I hope that the music I produce with the Klangstrukturen Chamber Orchestra can bring a few moments of pleasure and solace to others and, if it does, that would to my mind at least, make it a worthwhile and humanitarian way to spend some of my time on this earth.
Over time I hope this site will not only contain some details relating to the work of the Orchestra but also some general musings on music, life, art, and the process of recording, composing and promotion. However, I have discovered I am not a very good blogger. Given my willingness to vocalise my thoughts on almost anything under the sun to anyone who will listen this surprises me but there you go. I guess I just don’t possess an inclination to write about my insular little world and pass it on to the netesphere’s twiteratti tending instead to find other means of fruitfully passing the time than blowing my own trumpet while scrutinising my naval. This is likely to mean that the posts will be few and far between but we shall see. So if you wish to subscribe to my gentle rants and nothingnesses on the project’s progression then I look forward to our dialogue. If not thank you for visiting.