for Orchestra and CPU
Vocals: Lizzie Lyon
CPU: MC Maguire
Predisposition’ is a 30 minute work for Orchestra and CPU based on Ariana Grande song’ Positions’. The title of the piece is derived from the song, while being a reference to the struggle between the genetic/ predetermined course of our lives versus the more immediate/spontaneous aspects of our free will. This tension is reflected in the rigged rondo-like ‘recurrence of everything’ in the structure while overlaid on top of a constant drift into dreamlike improv.
The melodic material of the piece is broken up from the song’s verse/ transition/chorus, all of which is stretched, shrunk, played upside down and backwards, in typical 18th C counterpoint fashion. The harmonic material is derived from the deceptively simple 1-1V progression that mixes the modes between C and F. This leads to an expanding series of 1-1V until it becomes a circle of fourths through all 12 keys. Also from the original source, the entire piece is in one tempo, quarter note =72.
Another important recurring motiv of the piece was inspired by Hans Zimmer’s Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack where there is this long suspension in the main theme that is used as a pivot between keys- it is a very effective technique. I utilize a similar suspension, derived from the first two notes of the song, continuously at the end of each of the 3 movements, where the piece starts cycling more purposefully through the circle of fourths.
Finally, another big influence was all the recording, editing, and production work I have done for the amazing composer, Michael Torke. All his quasi- fugues, hocketting and canons of inversion seeped into all aspects of this music.
Preposition Score Video:
for Orchestra and CPU
Vocals: Lizzie Lyon
CPU: MC Maguire
‘Apophis’ is a 19 minute programmatic work for Orchestra and CPU, based on the flight and impact of the asteroid ‘Apophis’ (named after the Egyptian god of chaos). Initially, the asteroid was projected to have a 3% probability of hitting earth April 13, Friday, 2029. but due to widespread panic, NASA later changed their prognostication to a very slight chance. Following the more pessimistic route, this piece chronicles the asteroid’s journey through space, then hitting the ocean west of Puerto Rico (as prophesied by Ethan Rodriguez). Just before the asteroid’s impact, Katy Perry’s ‘Tsunami’ is introduced, which is also the source of the piece’s’ melodic and motivic material. The post-impact coda is a kind of survivor’s afterlife.
The formal construct of the music is built harmonically around The C double harmonic major, building the harmonic progression from the vertically ordering of the scale around an ascending root. This led me to a 64 chord chord progression which is layered 3 times by its doubled, quadrupled and octupled augmented offshoot. This 64 chords chord progression and it’s 3 layers and inversion became the harmonic ‘ursatz’ for the deep structure as well as being ubiquitous throughout the surface of the piece.
Eminating from the harmony, the tempo structure is closely linked to the ideal of a tonic tempo and its subdominant (dotted eighth), and its dominant (triplet). These tempos make up a set grid. Every section’s tempo entails a metric modulation which dictates the rhythm in the music to create a kind of amorphic, swirling force, symbolic of the asteroid careening through space and its chaotic impact.
MC Maguire March 2021
Apophis Score Video
CFBX 92.5FM October 2023
Top 5 Classical Albums
- Alexandra Streliski* – Neo-Romance (Secret City)
- Myroslava Khomik – Protest (Navona)
- Anthony Tan* – Sussurus (Riparian)
- MC Maguire* – Transmutation of Things (Neuma)
- Jason Zumpano* – If You Press, It Will Break (Jaz)
Fanfair Magazine November 2022
It is not often one gets to use the epithet “unique” for a composer’s soundworld these days, but that is exactly what sprang to mind while listening to Toronto-based MC Maguire’s Predisposition. I suppose the clue is in the disc title (“Transmutation”): there is a sort of musical alchemy going on here. This is music “for orchestra and CPU” (that is, Central processing Unit of a computer) plus vocals.
The second one has a “fix” on what’s going on in Predisposition, the music shifts direction. This is not film music although parts are “filmic”; it is not modern contemporary music, but parts are “modern” and “contemporary”. The computer set-up here can generate up to 300 layered tracks. Maguire has a stated penchant for “taking Pop hits, deconstructing them, and then reassembling the data into massive, abstract canvasses”; all part of that alchemy identified earlier. Maguire’s purpose in doing this, he says, is to “use the original primal musicality as a talisman to enter a new, dream-like, mathematically proportioned world”. The idea of an Ariana Grande tune (Positions, from the album of that name and itself released as the lead single) “put through an 18th century vegematic of stretti, augmentations, inversions, retrogrades, and hocketing machinations,” as the disc’s accompanying material would have it. Hans Zimmer’s Blade Runner 2019 soundtrack was another vital component of this piece in its use of suspension as a pivot to generate new key areas; finally, Michael Torke’s music overs over the use of older techniques of hocketing and so on (Maguire has previously worked with Torke). The result is a vibrantly colorful, even psychedelic mashup, with moments of relative calm few but welcome. Maguire’s voice is fresh, vital and absolutely a one-off. The recording here, as in Apophis, is stunningly involving.
From Ariana Grande to an asteroid: the title Apophisrefers to the flight and impact of that space rock. Apophis was an Egyptian God of Chaos who is also known as Destroyer (Apophis, the Great Serpent, attacks the barge of the Sun God Ra during Ra’s journey through the Night/Underworld; occultists will be familiar with Apophis through the “I.N.R.I.” segment of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram, and Apophis’ associations with Scorpio). The asteroid Apophis is due to (possibly) connect with Earth in 2029. And again, a pop song is part of the equation: this time, Katy Perry’s Tsunami, which forms the basis of much of the piece’s material. Maguire creates a 64-chord progression layered three times. On a more obvious level, Maguire uses metric modulation to ensure smooth transitions between sections, thus creating a sort of swirling that is intended to represent the asteroid careering through space. The piece is more ritualistic than Predisposition, more monumental; a sort of Birtwistle-meets-Katy Perry, perhaps, before the mist clears and we hear Lizzie Lyons’ pop vocals, all of this prior to a positively orgiastic passage that threatens to super-saturate. This is remarkably exciting music, but music that can hold great beauty also. There seems to be a section towards the end that is positively paradisical; a new, post-asteroid impact world, perhaps? Certainly, we hear sounds of Nature at the work’s close, which fade into silence.
A remarkable disc; this music is impactful on a very immediate level. Colin Clarke
Five stars: Maguire’s voice is fresh and vital; this stunning music is impactful on a very immediate level
Take Effect September 2022
The Toronto artist MC Maguire sure does posses a very unique position when it comes to making music. A master of deconstructing pop songs, he then rebuilds them in his studio into an unrecognizable display of giant swells of abstract and artistic song craft.
“Predisposition” starts the listen with a dreamy ambience, where both synthetic and organic sounds enter in ways that are often cinematic and manage to sound classical, electronic and pop-friendly. Deeper into the 30 minutes, the setting gets symphonic and busy, but is also capable of calm moments of beauty via orchestral nods.
The back half consists of “Apophis”, and in its 20 minute running time it explores other worldly ideas as well as plenty of synth acrobatics and classical manipulation. Much like the asteroid of the same name, the composition swirls and shifts with unpredictability, and makes precise use out of space and tension.
You might detect traces of Ariana Grande’s music in this listen, and it’s put through a filter of atypical electro-acoustic moments and sampling, exotic plugins, and digital editing. The end result is truly exciting and atypical, and simply must be heard by all ears for the unconventional
Art and Culture Maven September 2022
Toronto based composer MC Maguire uses pop music songs as a springboard into what could be called a “post-modern hybrid”. As the liner notes point out, there is a long tradition of using popular music as a starting point for classical compositions. Here, Maguire goes full digital orchestra – with 300 layered tracks – on Ariana Grande’s Positions in his piece for orchestra and CPU, Dispositions.
The second piece on the release is called Apophis, named after the Egyptian god of chaos, and referencing an asteroid due to hit Earth in 2029. Snippets of Katy Perry’s Tsunami are lurking among the complex orchestral arrangement.
The effects are sweeping, and filled with grandeur, but in a mode as if built by manic robots. Along with musical complexity, Maguire builds more meaning into the pieces. Dispositions, as he states in the liner notes, references the struggle between genetic predisposition and free will.
Verdict: A brainy musical matrix.
Downtown Music Gallery July 2022
Deconstructing art, particularly sound art, bisected by sound collage and the best sampling gear current technology has to offer, can be simultaneously rewarding, frustrating, unsettling, and exhilarating. Just ask Canadian artist Maguire, whose dense constructs recombining the DNA of orchestras thru the mediums of pop, electronica, and the avant-garde perplex and please in equal measure. His debut for Neuma represents what has made the label endlessly fascinating, its handful of 2022 releases cutting huge swathes through music of a decidedly non-binary nature. The half-hour “Predisposition” is a knock-down, awe-inspiring stunner, Maguire disentangling sounds already ripped from their categorical moorings, fastidiously piling layer upon layer of elementary sonic detritus that crash in a tsunami of headrush crescendoes. Faint wisps of compositional recognition arise here and there but even if the classical pieces inform the bedrock on which Maguire builds, he’s too busy warping it all out of sense that sensibility is effectively obliterated. Symphonic sections swell only to be immediately handswiped by frenzied rhythmic mash-ups; ghostly chorales rise out of the murk for a few desperate moments then vanish into quicksand; frequencies collide with a nuclear energy akin to comets striking the sun. This is plunderphonics of gargantuan proportions, grand gestures born from a car-crash aftermath. It’s ‘classical’ music for the schizophrenic masses, recalling People Like Us or The Tape-Beatles but whose galvanic residue is like a fist to the midsection, smashing their overlays into molecular mulch. Think you might have a tough time wrapping your head around this one? It’s easy: close your eyes, yell ‘charge’, and just jump right in.
Vital Weekly July 2022
MC Maguire is a USAmerican composer and producer with an interest in deconstructing music to then re-assemble it in a completely new guise. His past releases included ‘Nothing left to destroy’, ‘Trash of civilizations’, and ‘Meta-Conspiracy’. Combined with a connotation to Plunderphonics and Cut-up art, a sense of humour is detected here, combined with a good pinch of cultural vandalism. Nevertheless, his music is labelled as ‘contemporary classical’, which initially comes as a surprise.
Listening to the tracks, you dive into a chaos of apparently ‘found sound’ of several orchestras and pop records all playing simultaneously, with a gradual addition of elements that sound more like a digital cut-up. As the first of the two pieces on this release, ‘Predisposition’, further unfolds, you notice instruments being added and suspect that some of the orchestra sounds are not mixed in but have been deliberately added. Having a second look at the liner notes, you notice that this is a piece for ‘Orchestra and APU’, i.e. orchestra and tape. This explains some of the musical construction but still leaves you at a total loss, which parts of the tape and the orchestra are taking. A vocalist is also credited. With styles ranging from USAmerican early 20th century classical (the film score type) to some rock elements, Keith Emerson synth sounds, pop elements all shooting off into different directions, taking turns, layering, being interrupted to give way to other sounds, then resuming again, this is a hell of a sonic ride.
The second track, ‘Apophis’, is more straight orchestra (I think …). The layering is a little less dense and appears to contain more ‘live’ instruments, which (I believe) includes a traditional orchestra and half a ‘rock’ group with keyboards (I might be mistaken). Maguire manages to have the orchestra (if I am right) create a sufficient racket to match the first piece – just so. This track certainly owes more to the playing of actual instruments than source layering.
I must say I enjoyed both, one for the sheer chupze of mix presented, the second more for the mix of orchestra and rock/pop sounds (not necessarily elements) creating a ‘Wagnerian’ tumult. This made me really curious about other MC Maguire releases…! (RSW)
You will probably be overwhelmed the first time you listen to this release of two sonic canvasses by techno-pop-wizard MC Maguire. He layers sounds on sounds, so densely that at first it seems there will never be any relief, nor rest for the ears, the panicky sense a loud environment can cause, when one feels crushed by sound. It’s easier the second time; it requires surrender, faith in the strength of mind needed to survive one’s daily trials and chores. If your energy levels are down, maybe wait till they rally before you hit play.
Play is what Maguire does. He plays with source material he openly steals, in this case two pop songs. He plays with time, as any proper composer should, and he bounces balls of colour off walls of solid masonry. There are rhythmic and tonal games, and one or two listenings won’t suffice to catch them all. Reading his deadpan liner notes, you might wonder if there are word games too. Doubtful. His creative processes are apt, though mystifying; I feel like maybe I can hear what he says he did. You don’t need to know how it works for it to work, any more than a car you drive or a plane you fly in, or the microwave you use to heat your coffee.
The two tracks are Predisposition, which removes an Ariana Grande song from its original frame and takes it for a ride round the galaxy; and Apophis, named for the (potentially) Earth-shattering asteroid on course to bring about a reckoning on Friday, April 13, 2029. Katy Perry’s lyrics pop in after the cataclysmic orgasmic moment of truth. Both are amazing and beautiful.
Stickingittou (Colin Rae Review) June 2022
I’ve followed MC Maguire for many years now, his music and sounds have always been kinda mind blowing, this new album included. However, this one is epic in scope and beauty!! Quite awesome!
Jazz Weekly May 2022
Symphony of Synthesis -Both Orchestra and Central Processing Units (CPU) are used for the mix of acoustic and electronic sounds on these two opuses by by MC Maguire. Vocalist Lizzie Lyon also adds a human touch to the album, consisting of two pieces, a 30 minute “Predispostion” and a 19 minute “Apophis”. The juxtaposition of upbeat and optimistic synthetic textures with analog instrumentation makes for a dramatic and sweeping atmosphere on “Predispostion”. Some rich woodwind tones swirl over the truding march of “Apophis”, gradually creating a building similar to Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, landing softly with floating flutes. A contemplative conglomeration.
Midwest Record May 2022
MC MAGUIRE/Transmutation of Things: A time and space genre blender/bender that prides himself on being more annoying the Philip Glass deconstructs everything and reassembles it into something wilder and deeper than orchestras playing pop hits. Such thunderous stuff that you won’t know what hit you, none of the clichés or tropes of the pretenders are evident here. All you can do is strap yourself in an prepare for a wild ride through…..somewhere. And he looks kind of like Clint Eastwood. Do ya feel lucky?