The Immeasurable Blank Space of Tones

swiftlutheradamsIn the fall of 2015, Taylor Swift made a $50,000 donation to the Seattle Symphony. In a letter to the orchestra’s music director, Ludovic Morlot, she said the donation was inspired by listening to the orchestra’s recording of Become Ocean, the Pulitzer Prize-winning piece by composer John Luther Adams. Adams himself was delighted by the gesture, and wrote hopefully, “Through her generosity and her open ears, Taylor Swift is inviting her fans to experience a new and different kind of music.”

This week, in addition to dropping her seventh studio album, Lover, Swift noted in interviews that she is planning to re-record her first five albums to gain artistic and financial control over her material, after her masters were sold by her old record company.

In addition to re-recording her songs in their original form, perhaps it could be fun to throw in some remixed goodies as well. What if Swift teamed up with her favorite contemporary composer for one of those remixes? And what if it was of my personal favorite song “Blank Space?”

For the nerdy folks out there, this is based off Swift’s live acoustic performance of “Blank Space” at the Grammy Museum a few years ago. I layered that recording with samples from Adams’s The Wind in High Places for string quartet, Canticles of the Sky for cello ensemble, and The Farthest Place for vibraphone, marimba, piano, violin, and bass. The only effects used on the Adams samples are digital pitch transpositions to fit the key of Swift’s performance. There’s no other time stretching or signal processing.

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