michael pisaro black, white, red, green, blue (voyelles)
edition: 300

cd x2

letterpress die cut sleeve + inserts
designed and printed by ben owen

release date: march 2014


sleeve images link


disc I. black, white, red, green, blue (2004) 1:00:04
disc II. voyelles (2009) 1:00:20


I: michael pisaro - composition
barry chabala - electric guitar, recording engineer and realization.

II: michael pisaro - composition. reworking of chabala's realization; sine tones, samples, mixing and mastering.
samples are drawn from tape hiss produced from various cassette sources.

cassette version remixed and mastered for cd by michael pisaro, 2013


the score black, white, red, green, blue (2004) is published by Edition Wandelweiser
black, white, red, green, blue (2004) score pdf


listen to an excerpt of black, white, red, green, blue
listen to an excerpt of voyelles


When I wrote black, white, red, green, blue for a concert in Los Angeles in 2004, I didn’t think anyone else was going to play it. The score was written in a kind of shorthand, for me to keep track of what I wanted to do. (The structure and all the pitches are given, but the precise timing and the details of the guitar sound are left open.) However, I had the good fortune to meet Barry Chabala a few years ago, and in the close working relationship that developed, Barry has learned to play most of my work for solo guitar (and a few pieces besides).

Barry’s version of this piece is subtler, more striking and deeper in its use of the resources of the Fender Telecaster than any version of it I played. As his recording developed, it became clear that it should be released. This happened to coincide with a request from Ben Owen to consider releasing something on cassette on his excellent winds measure label. My first thought was that I’d never figure out anything for that (apparently) outdated medium. However, in pondering the background of the original piece and the fact that I loved the sound of tape hiss, I started to formulate an idea for a remix that would make use of the medium.

I thought I’d see if various kinds of hiss, collected from the unused ends of old tapes, could be aligned with the five sections of the piece. This procedure found its own trajectory as I worked with the sounds, adding multiple layers of straight and filtered tape hiss (and then sine tones) to Barry’s recording. The result, although leaving Barry’s recording intact, was different enough in sound and perceived structure, that I felt it merited a new title, thus, going back again to Rimbaud: voyelles.

Deepest thanks to Barry and Ben. I dedicate this new piece to them.

Michael Pisaro

michael pisaro


available: order