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World’s First Work of Programmable Classical Music “Betty’s Notebook” Brings in Over $375,000 in Total Sales

May 11, 2021 | By Jonah Creech-Pritchett
PR Assistant at Bucklesweet

World’s First Work of Programmable Classical Music “Betty’s Notebook” Brings in Over $375,000 in Total Sales

Multi-layered, multi-media choral piece created by Verdigris Ensemble breaks new record for single NFT sale at Async Art

Metapurse, the largest NFT fund in the world that purchased Beeple’s digital artwork EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS at a record price earlier this year, successfully bid on the master and three of the four “stems.”

May 10, 2021 – Dallas, TX: On Saturday, May 8, the world’s first piece of programmable classical music entitled “Betty’s Notebook” by the Dallas, Texas choral ensemble Verdigris Ensemble went to auction at Async Art, a digital art auction blockchain platform. Metapurse, the largest NFT (unique digital assets) fund in the world, successfully bid on the programmable master track “Betty’s Notebook” for $215,989 (56.56 Ethereum). The auction shattered expectations of $150,000, bringing in over $375,000 in total sales for Verdigris Ensemble and breaking the Async Art monetary record for single NFT sale. 

 Drawing inspiration from an unusual artifact, Verdigris Ensemble commissioned “Betty’s Notebook” by Texas composer Nicholas Reeves in 2018. In 1937 in St. Petersburg, Florida, 15-year-old Betty Klenck recorded what she believed was Amelia Earhart’s distress signals and final words breaking through her family’s shortwave radio in a notebook alongside sketches of mid-century glamour models and other youthful writings. Neither Earhart’s plane nor body were ever recovered, and while Klenck’s story was dismissed, she maintained the veracity of her account throughout her life. The resulting work “Betty’s Notebook” premiered in February 2019 in several Dallas venues—Royal Lane Baptist Church, Texas Theatre, and at a private residence.

Rather than releasing the 20-minute-long choral work as a traditional recording, Sam Brukhman, Founder and Artistic Director of Verdigris Ensemble, aspired to become the first classical music organization to utilize cutting edge technology to appeal to a much wider and novel audience by selling the work on the blockchain.

Recorded under strict coronavirus measures at Luminous Sound in North Dallas, “Betty’s Notebook” consists of a layered performance of four individual programmable components, or “stems,” each sold as separate NFTs (MP3 files imbued in algorithmic code): 

  • “The Choir,” the 16-person Verdigris Ensemble singing the voice of Amelia Earhart and her demise at sea 
  • “Betty’s voice,” a late-in-life interview with Klenck narrating what she heard
  • “Betty’s Radio,” jazz songs—also composed by Reeves—that recall the music Klenck may have been listening to on that July evening 
  • “Betty’s Choir,” Verdigris creating a choral complement from Betty’s voice, inserting pitches and overtones from a spectral analysis of her speaking voice into the overall texture of the piece

The four stems are also programmable with multiple settings: the owner of “Betty’s radio” can determine which jazz tracks are played, the owner of “The Choir” may choose from several different acoustic settings such as concert hall or studio, the owner of “Betty’s Voice” may choose whether Betty Klenck focuses her memories on Amelia Earhart or Earhart’s doomed navigator Fred Noonan, and the owner of “Betty’s Choir” chooses the overall emotional feeling that the piece evokes, from reminiscence to distress. Together, each stem owner can alter the creation of the master track with 81 different permutations. 

 “In each stem, there are multiple variants creating different narratives,” Brukhman explains. “This is an ever-evolving piece of art, and we become like Betty, turning the dials on the short-wave radio with different sounds and voices coming to the forefront, fading away, or becoming scrambled. Betty was a detective trying to make sense of this, and we are too as we listen and interact with the work.”

Bidding opened and was live streamed on VerticalCryptoArt at 3 PM ET (12 PM PT) with the stem “The Choir,” bought by highest bidder Metapursefor $19,094. Metapurse also purchased two additional stems “Betty’s Voice” and “Betty’s Radio” for $26,732 and $43,916, respectively. “Betty’s Choir” sold for $49,644 to the bidder MaximoNX, and finally “Betty’s Notebook: The Master Track” was also sold to Metapurse for $215,989, concluding an exciting auction. 

Twobadour, the steward of Metapurse, adds: “Betty’s Notebook has essentially birthed crypto music, paving the way for a new and innovative medium of creating and experiencing music. Adding the master and 3/4 stems to the Metapurse collection is a true honor, and in our eyes, a natural step in our pursuit to collect the most culturally significant NFTs of our time.”

“Betty’s Notebook: The Master Track” will be physically represented in a vintage 1930s wooden radio console repurposed to include an LCD screen displaying digital art and playing the latest iteration of the four-stems combined. The accompanying digital art, also inspired by the sketches in Klenck’s notebook of vintage pinups and airplanes, is animated by EMMY Award-winning graphic artist Bryan Brinkman (NBC’s The Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live). Metapurse has confirmed that the physical component will be available to lend to museums interested in displaying this polychronic, immersive, sound and digital art installation piece. 

 In addition, there are blank digital albums for sale that allow owners to record and resell master track recordings. The three platinum blank albums ($3,000 each) and ten gold albums ($1,000 each) are sold out; many of the 1,000 silver albums ($100) remain available for purchase. 

 “Music was first notated for vocal music. That’s what we preserved centuries ago, and now we are moving into a new way of documenting music on the blockchain,” 

Reeves shared during the streamed auction. “And it’s not without some irony that it’s also vocal music.” 

 “Sam is not just a conductor of music, but he conducted the project,” Brinkman congratulated and thanked Brukhman on the success of the project and auction. 

 “This is an opportunity for listeners to press, record, and resell unique versions of ‘Betty’s notebook,’” Brukhman explains. “This is revolutionary for classical music. Choral music is an important medium, the purveyor of the human experience, and now, too, this ancient art is the most cutting edge crypto-art, too.”

 Verdigris Ensemble uses choral music to tell shared stories of the human condition, weaving intricate choral programs into multi-layered experiences. Both in concert and outreach, Verdigris’ mission is to enrich, inspire, and invest into the community through honest choral storytelling, meaningful outreach initiatives, and collaboration. Learn more about Verdigris Ensemble and “Betty’s Notebook”: https://www.verdigrismusic.org/ and composer Nicholas Reeves https://www.nicholasreevesmusic.com.

 About Metapurse:

Async Art is a new art movement built on the blockchain. Create, collect, and trade programmable art: digital paintings split into "Layers", which you can use to affect the overall image. Art that can evolve over time, react to its owners, or follow a stock price is now all possible with programmable art. Launched in February 2020, there has already been over $8M in bid volume on the platform and over $2.5M in artist sales. Learn more about Async Music: https://edition.async.art/blog/programmable-music-coming-to-async  Browse Async Music: http://async.art/music 


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