Randall Hall has a simple explanation for his rather complicated music duo.
"I play sax," Hall says from his office at Augustana College in Rock Island, "He plays laptop."
Hall and Jonathon Kirk, a former student of his who's now on the faculty at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., form Pendulum. It's an avant-garde music duo that's kicking off a new series called Emanations at Rozz-Tox in Rock Island.
Now in his seventh year on the Augustana music faculty, Hall creates the music and Kirk breaks it down for their duo.
"He takes the material I play, puts it in the software and deconstructs and recomposes it, and then it comes out," Hall explained. "The computer's creating its own musical part that he's improvising in real time while I'm improvising on the sax."
For his part, Hall uses his alto sax for a variety of means, including as a percussive instrument, playing multiple notes at a time and "finding the notes in between the keys of the piano."
"It could be fairly innocuous, but the materials we're starting with are not going to be traditional," he said.
Avant-garde methods, he said, can be applied to classical, jazz and rock music for experimentation.
"The avant-garde part implies something modern, but modern in a way we haven't heard it before," he said. "It's meant to challenge the listener in new territory."
The new series at Rozz-Tox, coordinated by Hall, will feature different artists on the last Friday of each month. It will start with local artists, including his fellow Augie music faculty, and grow to artists from around the area, he hopes.
Get the Weekender Newsletter
Plan your weekend with our hand-picked list of the Quad Cities' best bets for entertainment.
A Washington, D.C., native, Hall will take the lead on a proposed electronic music studio at Augustana.
Hall, 42, said it's a case of keeping up with the demand of current and incoming students.
"What the high school kids can do now in their garages is far more than anything we could dream of 20, 25 years ago," he said.
The avant-garde series will feature music ranging anywhere from frenetic to atmospheric, he said, and give its audience a subtle education as well.
"Part of this is breaking down the difference between music and sound," he added. "Think about some of the sound effects we hear in movies and think of what fits the drama. Think of what happens when we use those as raw materials."