Tyondai Braxton

Notes from the Composer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Platinum Rows part I

Performed by the Wordless Music Orchestra


Platinum Rows is a large-scale work for orchestra with guitars, electronics and extended percussion. It blends different musical interests into one succinct mission statement. Reconciling my interest in modern music with an unhealthy, romanticized vision of 20th Century composition, I wanted to create a vacuum where they could coexist aesthetically and environmentally. Moreover, the goal was to blur the line where one ends and the other begins. The piece is an homage to the likes of Stravinsky and Bernstein just as much as it is to Autechre and Black Dice.

Based on the process I use as a solo performer, I created the piece using voice, guitar and a series of effects pedals. It was composed section by section with loops created in real time. Each layer would be simulate an acoustic instrument by molding the instruments with guitar effects pedals—turning a guitar into, say, a horn by using distortion through an autofilter or whistling a part and imagining it was a piccolo. All the percussion was originally “beatboxed.” It was very important to have a visceral connection to the music so I could see how it should be performed and to test our sound combinations in a way that seems more natural than composing strictly with midi. In the end, I ended up fashioning the piece from what I thought would be placeholders for the real instruments. The whisting, beatboxing and kazoo (which was supposed to be a trumpet or horn) ended up defining the nature of the piece more than I had originally intended.

Platinum Rows part II

Performed by the Wordless Music Orchestra

I might say that Platinum Rows is unapologetically grandiose to the point of parody if I didn’t happen to know that it was born from a genuine love of music.

The piece is scored for four male voices, four kazoos, two synthesizers, piano, six guitars, two basses, electronics, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, piccolo, two trumpets, two horns, xylophone, glockenspiel, harp, drums/percussion, and strings.


More in:

Comments [73]

Aaron from NYC

This should be interesting!

Oct. 13 2010 05:05 PM

Very accessible and fun.

Sep. 27 2010 08:30 PM

His works are the most reasonable experience for me for the last year. They bring back to so 60's at the same time being something from the future. Extremely exact structure and sequence. I'd be happy to see it performed live somewhere in the world.

Sep. 15 2010 02:52 AM
Todor Karastoyanov from Bulgaria

His works are the most reasonable experience for me for the last year. They bring back to so 60's at the same time being something from the future. Extremely exact structure and sequence. I'd be happy to see it performed live somewhere in the world.

Sep. 15 2010 02:49 AM
Russ from Boulder

I was immediately grabbed by the tonal characteristics of this piece, which was already In Progress on Q2. The more I listened, the more I was captivated and couldn't continue my usual parallel activities. Thank you Ty, Wordless Orchestra and Q2 for providing an interruption in the stream of usual.

Sep. 08 2010 03:53 PM
keegan from Hollywood

This is awesome! Would love to see this. Like would fly in from California to see this.

Aug. 30 2010 06:37 PM
Mark Attebery from Nyack, NY

This music is exhilarating, fresh, rhythmically vital with a ear-opening tonal palette and invites an immediate re-listen.

Aug. 23 2010 08:47 PM
Steven Carl Farrell from Manchester, England

Ty is quite simply going to make a great impact within contemporary music, his work with Battles and his solo efforts on 'Central Market' is proof of a new kind of pop-genius. Hire him whilst he's available.

Aug. 14 2010 09:03 AM
Alex Porter from South England

This would without a doubt benefit the most from a large scale recital.

Platinum Rows simultaneously defines and reinvents modern music.

Its bizzare, exciting, beautiful and unique.

For me Tyondai Braxton sits comfortably next to Johann Strauss and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.


Aug. 06 2010 02:36 PM

This is truly a work of ineffable genius. Braxton has stretched the tonal capabilities of each instrument used, created a new tonal palate from self-engineered sources and stretched the concepts of musical genre creating a beautiful and honest piece of musical mythos. Now tell me that isn’t ‘serious’. This music was not created by reading a manual, pressing buttons and ‘a little kazoo to boot’. This is the fruit of a life-long passionate endeavor of an astonishing talent. As a professional musician, I know we’re all looking for an answer to the question of dwindling attendance in the symphony halls. Are we doomed forever to a world of mind-numbing pops concerts? Or can we imagine a bustling musical culture of impassioned musicians and stimulated audiences growing together towards a more honest expression of who we are as a society? I hope for the latter and believe that Tyondai Braxton has placed us at the threshold.

Jul. 21 2010 12:31 AM
Michelle MIA from Miami, FL

In the interest of full disclosure, I must say I've known Ty since college. Therefore, I can attest to the enormous amount of musical growth that Ty has powered through in just over a decade. He is incredibly versatile and sees no boundaries between genres- an approach, no a natural tendency, with which I heartily agree. His music is amazing, thoughtful, fun and sophisticated. The small snippet you hear in the provided sample is just the tip of the iceberg. With regard to his musical trajectory, in my book the future can't come soon enough. This commission would be a fitting celebratory forum for his ever-inspiring compositions.

Jul. 20 2010 08:48 PM
Aster Luu from Zoo York City

You are an innovator and mover. i had to take a step back and everything do a double take. AWESOME WORK!!!!!

Jul. 15 2010 12:16 PM
Carl S. from Bloomington, IL

great, great, funny, great, fun, great stuff.

Jul. 14 2010 05:32 PM

in a word - big!

Jul. 03 2010 09:29 AM
percevalmusic from France

Great works, when the austerity of classical music is contained in the funny box!
Smurfs music for intellectual people;)

Jul. 03 2010 02:16 AM
Ian A from Ridgewood

Tyondai writes some really fresh music that's fun for everyone. There's a really solid connection to the past while also throwing in an authentic dash of some more current trends. Ty is overflowing with ideas and I think an Orpheus commission would be wonderful. (I would love to see a concerto with Ty as both composer and soloist!)

Jul. 02 2010 03:31 PM
Aaron from NYC

Wow, this piece is something else.

I don't know if I can hear Orpheus doing something like this, but I'm glad it's being done. Bravo, Tyondai!

Jun. 30 2010 10:49 PM

The blend of modern and traditional sounds created an innovative texture, one that added complexity to emotions typically accessible through a common symphony. It just kicked a$$.

Jun. 30 2010 06:06 PM
Jessica from Brooklyn

This piece is brilliant. The well crafted details cause a listener to desire multiple listening. Expert use of orchestration. The work is extremely unique and the composer is charting his own voice in an innovative way.

Jun. 29 2010 12:22 PM
Jess from Brooklyn

What a unique piece! I feel that there are multitudes and much humor to be appreciated in re-listening (several times).

Jun. 29 2010 11:11 AM
Stacey from New York City

Complex, layered, energetic... as a former dancer and performer, the energy in Braxton's sound brings me full circle from post-classical to mid-century ending in the chaos that is today. I am moved to move again!

Jun. 29 2010 11:09 AM
Lillie from NY

fresh and clear - a wonderful dynamic piece. daring invention/vision. This is a unique creative voice. super

Jun. 29 2010 12:00 AM

Platinum Rows part I: I'm not a fan. I didn't like it. That said, I can tell this is a work of quality and can hear the detail in it. Some real thought went into this.

Jun. 28 2010 05:50 PM
Carl from Manhattan

I don't understand what's so funny about four kazoos. The piece sounds like cartoon music to me. Let's face it, there is very little "fun" in classical music, that's why it's also called serious music. (And no, I'm not being ideological here, I'm just looking at music history!) Even Ligeti's "Grand Macabre" is not "fun" in a blatant way, and Stravinsky never is (except for the Circus Polka, maybe). And even Stravinsky would have not been selected for an Orpheus commission if he had only submitted the Circus Polka!

Jun. 28 2010 03:14 AM


Jun. 27 2010 03:35 PM

Exciting piece which could go further than it does, and it seems clear to me that Tyondai Braxton's got the talent to take it further too. Sometimes it seems like technology gets in the way (MIDI percussion for instance). If I were the composer I'd revisit this piece because it's loaded with promise (and NOT grandiose at all: it's too much fun!) … BTW I don't understand the personal vitriol in this comment thread. Shouldn't we be talking about the music, not the identities of the commenters?

Jun. 26 2010 01:57 PM
Jason Randazza from Oceanside, NY

This is quite possibly the most innovative and beautifully written piece ever concieved by the human mind. I love this man.

Jun. 24 2010 11:56 PM
derek from brooklyn

i'm blown away, think this piece is incredibly dynamic and powerful. the cyclical weaving of key musical phrases led me to find something familiar in a seemingly-foreign soundscape. i felt like each time a phrase came up anew, it helped me re-contextualize and see the music/ idea from a new perspective, which was very cool! i don't think "platinum rows" doesn't go anywhere, i think it takes you out to explore and then brings you home again

Jun. 24 2010 07:38 PM
Annie from NYC

I really love this piece! Nevermind that it's fun (how wonderful that it is), but I think it's crafted really well. I don't understand the criticism that it doesn't go anywhere and is unimaginative....This music is an adventure at every listening! I hear the musical references but I also think it transcends them. There is only one Stravinsky, there's only one Bob Dylan - but lets be honest - I don't think anyone will be confusing this piece with a Stravinsky piece, and I mean that in a good way. I think the composer is looking toward something...I want to see where he goes!

Jun. 24 2010 07:25 PM
Thoughts from California

Agree 100% w/ SpiritManager below. This music IS exciting, certainly much more fun than most of the music on this site, much of which is lacking in the sort of exuberance or unabashed passion which makes music so enjoyable.
So if all you've been listening to is long meandering oboe lines mysteriously creeping out of a post-Schoenbergian brooding string texture, hell, this music is a huge relief! It "lets loose," to borrow a term from SpiritManager.
But the thing is, in comparison with other music that I would personally enjoy listening to—bold music rather than timid music, to be frank—this doesn't hold up that well.
Once you get over the shock of it being actually fun music, it doesn't really do anything else or go anywhere else, and turns out as a bit of a disappointment. I would much rather hear a piece of Braxton's than many of the others on this site, but I think that the composer has a long way to go before his music gets to where it can be along its path.
My two cents.

Jun. 24 2010 03:20 PM

I really wanted to like this, and was sure I would at the first few measures. I happen to love big over-the-top multi-layered opulent unusually orchestrated heavily textured music - so thought for sure this would excite and transport me. But instead I found it disappointingly conventional and rather dull.
I have no formal training in music - just someone who listens to alot of music - mostly 20th/21st century - not just classical but jazz, 'creative', folk, world, rock, too. Music for me needs to do one of two things - it either needs to bring me back to a place I haven't been in awhile - a place which re-centers my being and puts all my insides back in order - such as last fall's four hour long solo Terry Riley concert at the Berkeley Art Museum, or it needs to take me to the edge of a new vista I've never seen before - such as Sofia Gubaidulina's amazing piece at the SF Symphony which I can almost still taste even though I heard it only once (no recording) over a year ago. I want music to open my perceptions to a world I can't get to any other way. And I don't necessarily want it to be one I've visited too often before or which landscape I find flat and unimaginative.
I feel like this composer needs to let loose more (I realize that sounds odd in this context since it's so much looser than many of the other composers on this site), and have more to say - that it's not just the trappings of using fun orchestration (which I do like) - it also needs to have somewhere to go and for a reason.

Jun. 24 2010 02:45 PM
Jane from New York City

I don't see anything exception in this. Sorry. We should all pay homage to Stravinsky & Bernstein, but this guy does not compare. Sorry

Jun. 24 2010 12:14 PM
Mary Burke from London

Love, wonder, imagination. Ty is a mythical genius. xx

Jun. 24 2010 12:04 PM

Massive! And T.B's album "Central Market" is even more massive. Check it out.

Jun. 24 2010 11:02 AM
Chris from U.K.

Overblown and lacking in a solid central idea or a meaningful flow. Sounds a bit like that American institution of big bands I had the misfortune to encounter last time I was over there.

Jun. 24 2010 10:24 AM

this is awesome. one of the most talented musicians period!!

Jun. 23 2010 01:49 AM
Melissa from Brooklyn

A wonderful piece of music. Truly inventive, playful and full of interesting and captivating sounds. Wow!

Jun. 22 2010 10:21 PM

I now have a new found love for the Kazoo!

Jun. 22 2010 10:19 PM
Chris Szewczyk from Avon, CT

Wow this song truly took me on a musical journey. Never before have a I listened to a song with almost no words that told such a story. Wonderful... and is that a Kazoo?!!!! Good Stuff can't wait to hear what else this guy comes up with.

Jun. 22 2010 09:41 PM

Very creative! It's like a cartoon crossed with Gershwin. Ty's compositions are not predictable. Check out the album this is from, "Central Market."

Jun. 22 2010 08:16 PM
jennifer liseo

imaginitive. seamless. playful. inspiring. love this piece!

Jun. 22 2010 08:09 PM


Jun. 22 2010 04:20 PM
YS from New York, NY

Otherworldly and imaginative. It is fun to think about narratives that go with the piece.

Jun. 22 2010 02:53 PM
Haena Kang from Brooklyn, NY

Cinematic and thought provoking. His ability to layer things, cohesively and intricately, is mind boggling. Keep up the great work!

Jun. 22 2010 10:11 AM
joceline from London


Jun. 22 2010 06:33 AM
Andy Clarke from Dublin

Incredibly inspiring music. Listening to Tyondai's album helped me complete a screenplay when I was stuck. It's so visceral and evocative.

Jun. 22 2010 06:22 AM

I started listening to Straviskij and a lot of music that I've always ignored thanks to Tyondai Braxton. When the same standard progressions and structure was terrible and too simple for my ears and also the noise and the jazz was not a good solution, Braxton found a new and innovative way to speak. His fantasy mix together the past being in the future. He's the right artist that need possibilities to work with an orchestra!

Jun. 22 2010 05:40 AM

Emotional & complex. Great.

Jun. 22 2010 04:02 AM
Hrishikesh from Los Angeles

As with much of Mr Braxton's work, I'm struck by how the piece turns from thunderous to whimsical so deftly within sections that the two contrasting feelings are intertwined — a double helix like the DNA of a baby storm god.

Jun. 22 2010 02:33 AM
Kirk from Cali

Vibrant sounds with rich textures, pulsing forward in a synchronized rhythm. Interesting blend of new and old instruments create a futuristic musical dialogue. Shades of Stravinsky and maybe Orff color the developing harmonies of Mr. Braxton. It leaves you wanting more.

Jun. 22 2010 12:43 AM

face it...

Jun. 21 2010 10:30 PM

The man is powerful.

Jun. 21 2010 10:18 PM
Amanda Blair from Texas


Jun. 21 2010 09:44 PM
terry from california

Like a ray of light shining under the doorway for the first time his work illuminates the dark recesses of the human condition and hints at a world where anything can happen and the mortal ability to recycle the old and reinterpret it for the future.

Jun. 21 2010 09:31 PM
jacob j from Alpine Tx


Jun. 21 2010 08:41 PM
jacob j


Jun. 21 2010 08:34 PM
Clarissa Vincent from East Anglia, UK

Bright and fully developed piece.

Jun. 21 2010 05:11 PM
C T from NYC

An audacious piece of work. Brilliant and fun.

Jun. 21 2010 04:27 PM
Adam Metzger, MD from NYC, NY

Adventurous, and meticulously created. A lively piece from this young man. I notice the Stravinsky influence, as well as his strong electronic, and classical background. I heard of young Mr. Braxton through the chain of innovative music and visual artists radiating from the UK, and through Warp Records. I believe he is based in Manhattan. Very happy indeed to hear his evolution. Im awaiting his next works.

Jun. 21 2010 04:24 PM
Ali Mobasser from London, England

Beautifully structured and bold. The various sounds and instrument create a colorful narrative full of intensity. Brilliant!

Jun. 21 2010 04:18 PM
Berbank from Cambridge, UK

Platinum Rows is evidence of a great, wilful and creative spirit which, at its axis, has a deep and profound enthusiastic and outstanding talent for music. It is energetic, exciting, experimental and cheeky. How rarely these properties can be attributed to music.

Tyondai is unique because his process and background is unique, and what greater merit is there than the successful articulation of uniqueness.

Jun. 21 2010 03:57 PM
Richard L from New York, NY

This is a beautiful piece. I can't imagine how one composes something as beautiful as this.

Jun. 21 2010 03:50 PM
jenn from brooklyn, ny

unique & cutting edge piece.

Jun. 21 2010 03:48 PM
Kyra Caruso from New York, NY

wonderful piece. refreshing. Tyondai Braxton - Thank you!

Jun. 21 2010 03:47 PM
Grace Villamil from brooklyn, ny

A beautiful, original and successful modern piece fitting perfectly into this generation. I further see how he evolved as an artist by reading how he used his original loop pedal setup to write Platinum Rows. I hear in this piece how he uses his musical experience (from his beginning solo looping venture, to Battles, to the present). It is exciting to hear an artist develop like this, and not abandon any part of himself.
Being a visual artist, Tyondai Braxton is a huge inspiration to my work.

Jun. 21 2010 03:26 PM
Charlie from Brooklyn NY

Totally thrilling piece. Humorous while still being intensely serious. The meshing of the electronic and orchestral textures is not only totally seamless, but it amounts to way more than the sum of its parts.

Masterfully made, but not at all precious or academic. This music has a real rugged spirit throughout. Stravinsky would definitely approve.

Jun. 21 2010 02:01 PM
James Whisenand from Denver, CO

Peculiar, angular, colorful, and quirky.
"Platinum Rows" is one of the most imaginative pieces I've ever heard. A step in the right direction for modern music.

Jun. 21 2010 01:39 PM
athena from amarillo, tx

this is some great stuff.

Jun. 21 2010 01:39 PM
liz zacher from Bend OR

A striking talent. The innovation is absolutely awe-inspiring!

Jun. 21 2010 01:08 PM
Guillermo Herren from New York, NY


Jun. 21 2010 12:17 PM
James Bryant from New York, NY

I love this piece, it manages to be fun and serious, reserved and complex - and has a very high re-listen-ability factor

Jun. 21 2010 12:00 PM
Ben from Chicago

This is really something different. And that might be the best compliment there is in today's landscape of musical sameness.

Jun. 20 2010 11:59 AM
Alice Artzt from Princeton NJ

Very interesting and innovative imaginative orchestration. A fun piece.

Jun. 19 2010 11:41 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Follow WQXR