Music: Profile & Tracks

I spent a lot of my youth studying and playing music. I was a saxophonist (tenor and soprano, occasionally doubling–badly–on flute) in several big bands including the Saskatoon Jazz Society Youth Big Band and the University of Saskatchewan Big Band, and led my own groups (variously called The Gord Sellar Trio/Quartet/Quintet) as much as possible in high school and undergrad in Saskatoon. I played not only jazz but also with an electroacoustic ambient group called Apocrypha with Marie Vasquez, Keenan Gauthier, and Phil Greer, as well as playing double bass in the local Youth String Orchestra.

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After moving to Korea, I got involved in the indie music scene, playing with 다방 밴드 (Dabang Band) from 2002-2004, as well as doing studio work on other albums.

In addition, Music Theory and Composition was a major part of my studies as an undergraduate. I composed a number of works as a student, including program music for two plays (The Princess Bride–or, rather, some gender-switching parody of the film–and Murder in the Cathedral), as well as original compositions and occasional commissions.

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Today, one of my roles in Brutal Rice Productions is as composer of original scores for our film projects, which I do using both synthesizers (especially my Akai EWI 4000S wind controller, and my Yamaha WX7 in conjunction with my Yamaha VL70-m tone generator) and traditional techniques of musique concrète, or what is now called sampling and remixing.

Below is a large sampling of free music for you to enjoy. I’ll add more as more becomes available, in whatever for (recording, score, etc) possible. The recordings are in reverse chronological order, from most recent to oldest. All files are offered in high-quality (relatively: VBR avg. 192kb/sec) MP3 format for the time being. Personally, I prefer ogg-vorbis, but mp3 is just more common.

자연선택설 (Environmental Pressure and Species Adaptation): Original Score. (2013)

Streaming and available for download on my account at Soundcloud:

The Music of Jo Hyeja: Original Score. (2012) — COMING SOON!

All the original music I composed for the film “The Music of Jo Hyeja” (2012), except for Jambinai’s “Naburak.”

This is my first soundtrack, and completely based on sampling sounds, including haegeum sounds,  and then remixing them into a rich soundscape, to build up the spooky atmosphere and horrifying soundscapes fit for a Lovecraftian film.

Personnel:
Composer: Gord Sellar
Bomi Park: haegeum
Voices: Gord Sellar, Jihyun Park, Yunnam Park
Audio Technician: Go Eunha

You can read more about the film here. 

Dabang Band: Product (2004)

Product Album cover & download link

Download DabangBand-Product(2004).zip

This is Dabang Band’s second album, done with Cavare records in Seoul, which has a bunch of great songs, including a couple of mine. (For those keeping track, “Jeonju Zoo” and “The Deep End” are my babies, though of course in their final form they’re the result of collaboration among all band members.)

Dabang Band Personnel:
Myoung Jae Yi: guitars & leading vocals
Gord Sellar: saxophones (t/s), flute, backing vocals,
Sung Hwan Jung: bass
Thai Iv: on drums, backing vocals.

Guest Personnel:
Yoon Joo Mi (of Plastic People): backing vocals (tracks #5, 8, and 10)

If you like this album and want to own the physical object, it is available at Yesasia.com. It’s a pretty nice product, but be advised: I never saw any money from the project, and am 99% sure I never will.

Dabang Band: Pig Over Seoul (2002)

Download DabangBand-PigOverSeoul(2002).zip

Pig Over Seoul coverThis is Dabang Band’s first album, recorded and produced in 2002 at the (oddly named) Seoul Studio in… Jeonju City, South Korea. (Just six months after the band’s then-current personnel had come together.) This album is no longer available in traditional media… apparently the CDs all sold out.

Dabang Band Personnel:
Myoung Jae Yi: guitars & leading vocals
Gord Sellar: saxophones (t/s), flute, backing vocals, poetry recitation (track 8)
Sung Hwan Jung: bass
Thai Iv: on drums, backing vocals.

Guest Personnel:
Hyo Sang
Yoon: slide guitar (track 10)
Dae Gwi Hwang: guitar (track 9) 

Funny note: yes, that really is me reciting the poem about Shiva on track 8. My voice is accounted for by a dreadful flu that day. The poem, incidentally, was first published in Matrix Magazine, out of Montreal, in issue 59, back in 2001.

Apocrypha: Live at the Chill Room, Ascension 1998 (1998)

Download Apocrypha_Live-98.zip

Apocrypha was an experimental live-ambient group thrown together at the request of (abd with the assistance of) my DJ friend Michael Babb — aka DJ Deko-ze — who was in those days in the business of hosting musical events (dance parties) in Saskatoon. This was our second or third completely improvisational experiment, performed at the party titled Ascension, I think. We played in the “Chill Room.”

Personnell:
Phil Greer & Keenan Gauthier: DJ
Marie Vasquez: vocals, percussion
Gord Sellar: saxophones, percussion, recitation
Audio Engineer: (a friend of one of the DJs: sorry, don’t know who)

(Legal note: There are samples here, including from  Pete Namlook’s Silence I & II; John Cage’s piano solo “In A Landscape” (1948); Gavin Bryars’ spectacular The Sinking of the Titanic; and I think snippets from the famous Master Musicians of Jajouka. I think these samples constitute Fair Use as nobody is making money, we’re just building derivative art with them, but if a copyright owner contacts me I’ll take down the piece in question. Sadly.)

“Dan or #54623″ by Xylon Cozens:

I also made a guest appearance on local singer/guitarist and songwriter Xylon Cozens’ folk-pop album Xylon I in 1995. The sax playing is frankly a little rough–and way too high in the mix–but I won’t post my litany of (reasonable, but unfortunate) excuses regarding my playing. I mean, I cack right at the end of the first run! Still, in the interests of completeness, here’s an audio stream you can listen to:

Dan or #54623:

As for personnel: I don’t have the CD on hand, and there doesn’t seem to be any information online: early days of the Internet, I guess, and indie music. I’m pretty sure Xylon played the guitar part, though, and he definitely sang. That means the only question really is who’s singing backing vocals. (Some of it sounds like Xylon, though it might not be, and there’s a female voice I don’t recognize also.)

Compositions (1995-96)

Download recordings of compositions-Gord_Sellar-95-96.zip

Compositions Image and download link

From 1992-1994 and 1995-1997 I studied music composition as part of my undegraduate work at University of Saskatchewan. The recordings of my favorite pieces have mostly not survived, but I have managed to recover recordings of five pieces. (More may possibly be on the way.) The works I do have recordings of were useful for me as experiments, and shaped what I was doing in other areas, like my saxophone playing. Essentially, I see these pieces as curios.

I believe that all of these recordings were made at the Composers’ Forum, a recital put on by our professor Gyula Csapo for all student composers at the end of the 1995-96 school year, or at other student recitals during that year.  You can download the compositions as a group, by clicking on the cassette tape to the right, or you can hear and read about the pieces individually below.

 


NEW SCORE: “When She Dreams of Moonlight” for Soprano Saxophone, Piano, and Tape (1994)

This is an underwhelming piece, which I only notated in Musescore for the sake of having a copy in my archives. I don’t have the original reel-to-reel tape, though it may be slowly rotting (as magnetic tape does) in a box in my mother’s house: I’m not sure whether it got thrown out or not.

In any case, the piece is hardly worth reconstructing anyway: it was, compositionally, a failure, albeit one that reveals how I thought about music and composing at the time. Here’s the score:

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For my comments on this piece, please see my post on the piece.


Three Portraits for Two Bass Clarinets (1995)

This piece, commissioned by my classmate Lana Fribance for, I think it was, her 3rd year recital. It is performed here by Lana and Susan Clarke on 2nd bass clarinet. (Susan also very kindly copied the parts for this particular score.)

The work is in three movements, each characterizing one of the more well-known students in our department. They’re short so it’s all included in a single MP3 file. These three portraits were of music students in the department during my first year, and are titled as follows:

Mvt. 1: Grace (for Grace Yip)
Mvt. 2: Jamie (for Jamie Shupena)
Mvt. 3: Mo (for Maurice Lineman)

UPDATE (28 Feb. 2014): As part of my ongoing project to learn how to use Musescore and digitize my complete compositions, I’ve just done up a proper score for this piece. You can download it here:

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3:1:2:3, Hommage à Machaut (1995).

An experiment in a kind of modal serialism/canon, using a musical phrase taken from a composition by Guilluame de Machaut (c. 1300-1377). My effect was not so great, but the ensemble did a good job with what I gave them.

Personnel: 
Flute: Melanie Funk
Horn: Susan Mortenson
Violin: Anna Bekolay
Baritone Saxophone: Troy Linsley (replacing a cello part for an injured cellist who could not perform)
(…and others)


Dervish, or, Heatstroke on a Sand Dune Three Miles North of Yazd, Iran (1996)

A piano major who shall remain nameless promised to perform this for my recital, and then didn’t show up for the recital. To my chagrin, I found a note taped to my locker with an apology, roughly an hour before the recital began. In any case, my professor, Gyula Csapo, was familiar with the piece: he practiced it a bit backstage, and then performed a pretty solid “rendition” of it. He refused to call it a performance, just a “rendition” or “impression” of the piece, understandably, since he was all but sight-reading it. A week or two later, he actually “performed” it, and that’s what this recording is.

Personnel:
Gyula Csapo: piano


Yudhishtira’s Dice (1995-96)

This was is the largest composition I ever attempted in terms of the ensemble size, excepting a few academic exercises in arranging tunes by Thelonious Monk for orchestra and jazz quintet. I originally titled it “Arjuna’s Dice”, due to misremembering the story from the Mahabharata.

Yudhishtira’s Dice was composed for wind quintet, six voices, and percussion (including tuned water glasses). It was one of the year’s more unusual pieces, using such techniques and throat singing and the kind of voice-percussion one hears in Balinese kecak performances.

A partial list of personnel, until I can find the recital form:

Bassoon: Marie Sellar
Flute: Melanie Funk
Horn: Stacy Mortensen or Isabella Sellar (I’m not sure)
Bass Clarinet/Clarinet: probably Lana Fribance
Percussion: Mike Murza, ?, and ?
Voices: Lisa Zmud, Carrie Lee, Marie Vasquez, Anna Vasquez, Barry Ursaki, Gord Sellar.

I think I’ve never made better use of percussion, nor have I ever made worse use of voice, though the Balinese kecak-like chanting seemed to have a more powerful effect when you could actually see people chanting in front of you. Amid all the experimenting, though, I think a few small things worked.


Readings from the Necronomicon (1996)

For detuned harpsichord and electric guitar, this was one of my last compositions during the 1995-95 university year.

The title (referring to the work of H.P. Lovecraft) invokes the title of a fictional book supposedly written by a “Mad Arab” in the desert after hearing the voices of demons speaking through insects. At least one Christian fundamentalist in the audience was driven to fear for my ostensible soul by the piece, which means that even if it wasn’t a musical success, it certainly succeeded in some small way. My professor, Gyula Csapo, however, was very enthusiastic, calling it the “freak-out piece” of the concert.

I recognized that harpsichords, since they so often need to be tuned before a performance, could be tuned any way we liked for a piece of music. Therefore, I crafted a very specific chart for detuning the harpsichord; it was, however, somewhat loosely followed.

Personnel:
Kathleen Davis Lepage: harpsichord
Darryl ___?: guitar


NEW!: Some videos of Dabang Band have turned up on Youtube. I’m not happy with the videos: much better gigs were recorded, though I have no links for the videos that went out online, and those are probably gone now. But the following songs were performed just prior to the making of Pig Over Seoul, at our first big festival performance — the Ssamzie Sound Festival:

Actually far from our best performance; I include the videos here for archival purposes only.