Nolan Hildebrand (Toronto)

Composition | Merz Re #2

Instrumentation | For Electronics



Nolan Hildebrand is a composer, improviser, researcher, and noise artist based in Toronto, Canada. Nolan’s musical practices and aesthetics are centered around noise and maximalism, stemming from a background in drumkit, metal music, and noise music. Through noise, Nolan explores conceptual and physical extremities to create intense and engaging music. His compositional output spans classical ensembles, electroacoustic music, and improvised music. Nolan also performs, records, and releases music under his experimental solo noise project, BLACK GALAXIE. Nolan has had opportunities to work with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, ECM+ Ensemble, XelmYa Ensemble, TORQ Percussion, Jonny Axelsson, Nick Photinos and has attended masterclasses with Donnacha Dennehy, Ana Sokolovic, and Luca Cori. He has presented his music and research at the CUNY Conference for Graduate Students in Music (NYC, New York), the University of Toronto’s Dialogues Performance Symposium, the Anestis Logothetis Centenary Symposium (Athens, Greece), the CeReNeM Composers’ Colloquia (Huddersfield, UK), and the Korean Electro Acoustic Music Society’s Annual Conference (Seoul, Korea). Nolan completed his BMus with Dr. Gordon Fitzell at the University of Manitoba and an MMus under the supervision of Dr. Eliot Britton at the University of Toronto. He is currently pursuing a DMA at the University of Toronto with a focus on graphic notation and electroacoustic music with Dr. Kotoka Suzuki and Dr. Eliot Britton. Current projects include a new work for six percussionists and six loudspeakers for the University of Toronto’s Technology and Performance Integration Research Lab (TaPIR), and a new chamber work for the 2023 Bang on a Can Summer Institute.

Programme Notes

Merz Re \[#2] was written for Fish Yu’s Dolby Atmos project entitled The Sounds of Cities. Merz Re \[#2] is the second work in a series of acousmatic pieces inspired by dada artist Kurt Schwitters and his concept of Merz and its connection to Japanese noise artist Merzbow. Much of the form and sounds in Merz Re \[#2] was also inspired by John Cage’s piece William’s Mix. Like William’s Mix, Merz Re \[#2] uses six categories of sound (city, country, electronic, manually produced, wind, and "small" sounds) to create the complex and dynamic gestures in the music. The piece can be divided in three sections: (I): A wide outdoor soundscape full of animal sounds with low electronic synths creates a base of droning textures while instruments and sounds from the other categories are granulated, scrambled, and layered to create a dense web of sound. The sounds build in intensity to a climax of FM synthesis noise, a distorted dock sloshing in the water, and waterfall white noise. (transition): A swarm of bees slowly mutates into a distorted cacophony of horns and city sounds signaling the transition from the outdoor wilderness soundscape to the noisy din of the city and people. (II): Ever changing micro gestures of sampled field recordings of traffic, a public transit automated voice, singing, nature sounds, real-world instruments, and digital instruments creates a fast, exciting, and unpredictable collage that climaxes with a finale of Metal inspired riffs, noisy raw data sonifications, and harsh screams.