Multiphonic Guitar w/treatment
Miller's degeneration explores "prepared guitar" as a form of sonic fragmentation. First altered in 1982, "The Zoo" (a deconstructed Gibson Kalamazoo) was one of many oddities integral to the sound of Ann Arbor Michigan's willfully obscure GKW. This instrument is equiped with 1 Humbucker in standard placement panned Right, 1 Humbucker suspended above the 1st Fret facing down panned Left, and 2 inexpensive Piezo contact pickups at the Body panned Right and at the Headstock panned Left. Lastly, a Hexaphonic pickup in standard placement outputs each string separately with each string running through a different device. The aforementioned Humbucker suspended above the 1st Fret picks up Biphonic sounds from the six strings between the Nut and the Manipulated String vs. the Manipulated String and the Bridge. This is what creates a fun, random Stereo spread. While all 5 pickups are deliberately panned full Stereo, many frequencies interact with each other at times swapping positions in the naturally complex sonic field. Retaining a unique mulitple output, Miller adds a score of FX pedals, Casio SK1 8-bit sampling, analog tapes, transistor radio, and the liberal use of a Bixby Tailpiece - hence the blanket statement; "Mulitphonic Guitar w/Treatment".
Due to the Piezo pickups, String Sounds occur below the Bridge, above the Nut, and from the Guitar Body itself. The Bridge is not saddled - instead completely smooth so that the strings are mobile and free to slide from side to side enhancing the instrument's erratic Microtonal sound. The Strings are strung approximately a 5th below standard tuning. Sometimes a special Tuning is set up, but more often than not Pitch and Intonation are completely arbitrary. The use of a guitar pick and the traditional approach to playing a "Guitar Neck with Frets" is rare. The Zoo's 6 strings are actively excited by Hammers, metal Slides, Combs, Chains, restaraunt-style salt shaker, long Screws, cello Bow, eBow and more. It also uses stationary "preparation" such as Aligator Clips, Binder Clips, large Springs, Ace bandage Fasteners, vintage Barretts and other found objects. Deep Listening and Trusting the Unknown is his modus operandi and it is with this unseen nature that Miller adheres to. Concerts often use Visual Projection and Multiple Speaker setups for spacial enhancement. Spoken Narrative, Analog Synth and manipulated Vinyl sometimes accompany the mood. How many Cords? At his last concert, Miller counted 41. No Laptops allowed.
Miller honed his prepared guitar approach with Chicago's DIRTY OLD MAN RIVER. Songwriter Julian Mills graciously let him have at it.
"...Miller's chainsaw hum sputters almost subliminally, lurking in the shadows of the mix."
_ THE SADDEST MOVIE SCREEN, CMJ 1998
"...this mad scientist claws at a modified, tabletop Gibson...It's squeaks, croaks, frequency disruptions and energy fields assassinate DOMR's compositions, knocking them sideways and diluting their cabaretish flair."
_ AGELESS, Jordan N. Mamone, NY Press 2000
At the turn of the Century under the moniker ben Miller/degeneration, Miller began solo performance releasing INTERCOM.
"If new expressionists closed their eyes and painted what they saw then Ben Miller must be taping shut his ears and playing what he hears; blood thrashing through arteries, nerves popping, synapses burning,..doors knocking, feet bounding up echoed stairways...Formerly a part of the 'anti-rock band' Destroy All Monsters, Miller takes the 'anti' idea a step further."
_ Melissa Giannini, Detroit Metro Times 2001.
While residing in the NYC-metro area [2003-2014], Miller toured the East Coast and Europe collaborating with a gazillion musicians and visual artists. He provided live multiphonic sound design for NOX, a performance expounding on Anne Carson's book of the same name regarding her brother's life. NOX premiered in Boston, Miami, and NYC with Anne, Robert Currie and former Merce Cunningham dancers Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener.
“... the electric surges in Benjamin Miller’s score threaten to push past séance into horror-movie territory. Yet the way that a chaotic force seems to break through the classicism of the dancers’ Cunningham training is a fit analogue for the way that grief breaks through Ms. Carson’s erudite attempt to contain it.”
_ NY Times 2012
MULTIPHONIC SOUND DESIGN:
Raphaël Maze's Film for Music #11 / Ben Miller, 2013
Ofer MizraChi's Blurrer, 2012
Laurence Miller's Color of Water, 2011
Anne Carson's NOX Live performance @ ICA, Boston MA, 2010
Orin Buck's Light Dreams 5, 2009
Mehrnaz Saeed Vafa's short Film "Five Difficult Pieces", 2002
Laurie Eisenhower Dance Co. "AMNYC" 1993
Whitley Setrakian & People Dancing "Mary's Answer" 1992
Raymonds' Bar with projections by Raphaël Maze and Gregory Robin, in Claremont-Ferrand, FR 2013
Moviate in Harrisburg PA, 2012
Kerrytown Concert Hall in Ann Arbor MI, 2010
Highwire Gallery in Philadelphia PA, 2010
Electric Possible in Washington DC, 2009
Dream Theatre in Ypsilanti MI, 2004
INTERCOM, OVER AND OUT, LAYER, SIRENS OF PHOBOS, LIVE PERFORMANCES & RADIO BROADCASTS, EYELANDS UNDER EYELID, POLAR SHIFTS, COLOR OF SOUND, and EMPTY / MARIANA TRENCH.
Distribution: NYC's Downtown Music Gallery, Japan's ART INTO LIFE, and via this website.
Contact Ben Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org