Concert: Recent Electroacoustic Music

Shiley Theatre
Max Mathews, Radio Baton
Päivikki Nykter and János Négyesy
Violins Ami Radunskaya, Electronic Cello
Rachel Rudich, Flute
Lily Gunn, Program Introduction


Gold, Incense, and Mirth

Donna Kelly Eastman

Over the Edge

Eric Chasalow

Ms. Rudich

Agitato (Ergo Sum)

John Duesenberry


Jeffrey Hass


Jim Whitsitt

Metal Music

Cindy McTee


Night Traffic

Paul Lansky

A Wild and Reckless Place for Radio Baton and Electronic Cello

Max Mathews

Mr. Mathews and Ms. Radunskaya


Tod Machover


JoAnn Kuchera-Morin

Unprepared Music for Prepared Violins

Robert Willey

Ms. Nykter and Mr. N&eacutegyesy

Program Notes and Biographies of the Composers

Eric Chasalow (Brandeis University)

Over the Edge
Over the Edge uses the tape part to modulate and expand on the possibilities of the flute. The structure of the piece consists of extremely fast, articulated sections surrounding a slow central one. Fast motivic figures build by accretion, starting out in a narrow range and gradually expanding, becoming syncopated and angular. The fast repeated figures give Over the Edge a character derived from both be-bop and bluegrass musics. I have purposely set the main tempo at 132, just a little faster than comfortable, making the piece a challenge to perform.

Over the Edge was awarded the ISCM US section prize and first prize in the Washington Square Contemporary Music Series Competition in 1989. It has just been published by McGinnis & Marx, New York.

Eric Chasalow is Assistant Professor of Composition at Brandeis University and Director of the Brandeis Electro-Acoustic Music Studio (BEAMS). He was formerly Executive Director of the Guild of Composers, for whom he produced several seasons of concerts in New York City and a nationally distributed radio series called "Composers in Concert." He also has served as Executive Director of Music Alliance, an organization dedicated to improving the climate for the art of music in America through education programs.

Mr. Chasalow received the D.M.A. from Columbia University where his principle teacher was Mario Davidovsky and where he studied flute with Harvey Sollberger. He pursued his undergraduate studies at Bates College and New England Conservatory.

Mr. Chasalow has been awarded prizes and fellowships by, among others, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, The National Endowment for the Arts, and The New York Foundation for the Arts, with particular recognition for his works that combine live soloists with electronic sounds.

John Duesenberry (Brookline, Massachusetts)

Agitato (Ergo Sum) for Gustav Ciamaga

Agitato (Ergo Sum) comprises six sections of roughly equal length. Its quality of agitation (in both senses of excitement and disturbance) increases progressively throughout the first five sections. The means used to achieve this quality vary from section to section. They include highly irregular rhythms and phrase lengths, continually fluctuating tempi, sharp interruptive gestures, and angular melodic lines assigned to a hyper-flute which emits enharmonic notes at restive moments. After the overall arc of tension peaks, the final section functions as a coda-dissipating rather than resolving that tension. The piece's opening gesture-an electronic swelling which "collides" with a flute tone-recurs in mutant form throughout, and acts as a unifying device. The fourth and fifth sections of the piece are themselves large-scale expansions of this idea: a kind of perpetuum mobile builds to peak intensity and connects violently to an episode of percussive and chordal eruptions. Agitato (Ergo Sum) is the second in a projected series of electronic compositions which explore the notion of a "virtual soloist" giving a nuanced performance upon an "instrument" whose timbral and expressive qualities derive from a recognizable acoustic instrument or family of instruments. In this case the solo instrument is the aforementioned hyper-flute, which exceeds the capabilities of an acoustic flute with respect to range, timbre, and capacity for coordination and blending with the surrounding electronic ensemble. Agitato was composed in 1990, most of the work being done at the Millay Colony for the Arts. It was produced using an E-Mu Emax SE and Proteus/1, a Yamaha TX816, and Roland and Alesis effects processors, controlled via Performer on a Macintosh IIcx. The work, dedicated to my friend and fellow-composer, Gustav Ciamaga, has been released on Neuma Compact Discs.

John Duesenberry studied composition at Boston University with Joyce Mekeel, Allan Schindler, and John Goodman. He also studied electronic music at the BEEP Workshop and at the affectionately-remembered Boston School of Electronic Music. He continued composition studies with Robert Stern of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, earning his M.M. After working for a time as instructor and later Director at BSEM, he left to pursue studies in computer music at MIT and to produce a recording of his work. At present, Duesenberry is employed as a software engineer, and composes and teaches electronic music in his private studio.

Duesenberry's music has been widely performed in North America, as well as in Europe and Australia. He has been an Artists Foundation Fellow, a winner of the League/ISCM New England Composers Competition and a Millay Colony resident. He has authored technical articles in publications such as Computer Music Journal and Electronic Musician. His music has been recorded on the Neuma and Opus One labels and on a CD released at the 1989 International Computer Music Conference.

Donna Kelly Eastman (Springfield, Virginia)

Gold, Incense, and Mirth
Gold, Incense, and Mirth-A Souvenir of Thailand is a tape piece realized on the Fairlight III, using sampled sounds of instruments collected by the composer during a three-year stay in Thailand. The collection includes assorted bronze bells and gongs; a clay drum; a ranad-a rosewood mallet instrument which is the major melodic instrument of the classical Thai ensemble; the ching-cupped hand cymbals which serve as the tactus or beat-keeper for traditional dance music; a teak elephant bell worn by all the working elephants in the teak forests; and brass temple bells which hang from the ornate eaves of all Thai temples, offering a gently hypnotic welcome. The sounding of the temple bells in the middle of the piece call the instruments of the classical ensemble to their traditional positions, ranges, and tunings, as they would be heard in a typical temple offering of music and dance. Soon, though, the lure of Western electronics returns them to the altered sounds and ranges of the opening section.

Donna Kelly Eastman is a Fellow of the Charles Ives Center for American Music, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Ragdale Foundation. Her compositions have been performed throughout the United States and Europe and the Far East where she has lived for extended periods of time-an experience which is reflected in the style and content of her musical expression. She has studied composition with Cecil Effinger, Charles Eakin, Charles Bestor, Mark Wilson, and Lawrence Moss. Ms. Eastman is currently completing an opera in collaboration with librettist, Dona Stein.

Jeffrey Hass (Bloomington, Indiana)

Liaisons was created at the Indiana University Center for Electronic and Computer Music. Various sounds from an oboe-short notes, key clicks, and multiphonics (a method of playing several different pitches simultaneously)-were recorded and stored digitally. A method called digital signal processing (DSP) was used to explore, dissect, modify, and reassemble these sounds to produce the primary material of the piece. By drastically slowing down some of the oboe sounds, intriguing microscopic elements not heard in "real time" could be isolated and enhanced. The piece, then, is a collaboration between real world sounds and digital technology. The form of the piece takes advantage of the computer's ability to process the oboe sounds in increasingly obscure ways. It is, in fact, a traditional theme and variations. Each variation, or repetition of the opening gesture, utilizes a different and more extreme technique of modification.

Jeffrey Hass is currently Assistant Professor of Composition at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he serves as the Director of the Center for Electronic and Computer Music (CECM). He previously taught music theory and composition on the faculties of Rutgers University and the Interlochen Center for the Arts. His compositions have been premiered by the Louisville Orchestra and Concordia Chamber Orchestra, and have had performances at Lincoln Center, NY, at national conferences of the Society of Composers, at Florida State University, and the University of Las Vegas (1990), as well as at regional conferences of S.C.I., and the College Music Society at the University of Washington and Capital University. His orchestral works have won several national competitions. His works have been published by the Ludwig Music Company and MMB Music Publishers. He has had several international radio broadcasts of his electronic music recordings.

Professor Hass has recently been a guest composer at Washington State University, the University of Louisville, and Indiana State University, with other performances at the University of Wisconsin and the International Double Reed Society 1987 Conference. He was a recipient of a 1990 Master Fellowship sponsored by the Indiana Arts Council/National Endowment for the Arts as well as an Indiana University Grant-in-Aid of Creative Activity. Of his music, Judi Hazlett of the Tribune-Star says, "it is so intelligently constructed, so clean and crisp, and so easy to listen to that it fairly takes the breath away." He has studied composition with Frederick Fox, Donald Erb, and Robert Moevs, receiving a doctorate in composition in 1989.

Mr. Hass' most recent activities include overseeing a $130,000 grant from Indiana University to design a new computer music studio for CECM, a performance at the national meeting of the Society for Electro-acoustic Music in the United States, and a performance of his award-winning work, City Life in New York by North/South Consonance.

Cindy McTee (University of North Texas)

Metal Music
Metal Music was created with an Apple Macintosh computer, two Yamaha TX81Z tone generators, and software by Mark of the Unicorn entitled Performer. Sixteen different metallic "voices" are presented throughout the work's five short movements, eleven of which are derived from a single "source voice" employing audible fixed-frequency modulation such that each note produces its own distinctive timbre. Metal Music is recorded on Centaur's, CDCM Computer Music Series Vol. 9

I. Bins and Bells-The sounds of large bowed bells.

II. Kettles and Cans-Canonic treatment of non-retrogradable rhythms.

III. Tins and Tanks-Three-timbre metallic polyphony.

IV. Buckets and Bolts-Octatonic melodies in various permutations with the sounds of large bowed bells.

V. Pots and Pans-The beating of metal drums.

Cindy McTee (b. 1953) studied with David Robbins at Pacific Lutheran University (B.M. 1975), Krzysztof Penderecki, Jacob Druckman, and Bruce MacCombie at the Yale School of Music (M.M. 1978), and Richard Hervig at the University of Iowa (Ph.D. 1981). She also completed one year of study in Poland with composers Penderecki, Marek Stachowski and Krystyna Moszumanska-Nazar at the Higher School of Music in Krakow.

Dr. McTee taught at Pacific Lutheran University from 1981 to 1984, and subsequently joined the faculty of the University of North Texas where she is currently Associate Professor of Music and Chair of the Division of Composition Studies.

Her awards include a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a Barlow Commission, a Senior Fulbright Scholar Lecturing Award in electronic music at the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland, two grants from the Washington State Arts Commission, and a BMI award.

McTee has been commissioned to write a new work for the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and in January will receive a performance of her Circuits by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie hall under the direction of Dennis Russell Davies. Widely performed, her works are published by MMB/Norruth Music Inc., in St. Louis, Missouri.

Jim Whitsitt (San Diego, California)

Tokamak is the name the Russians gave to an experimental reactor which was built in an attempt to obtain energy from nuclear fusion. It often happens that when I work on a computer/electronic composition, the composition gets completed before an idea for a title comes to mind. In this particular case, I am indebted to David Ward-Steinman for the title, which he indicates came to him as he experienced the concentration and dispersion of rhythmic, melodic, and textural energies occurring as the piece unfolds. The general shape of the composition is that of a greater concentration of energies gradually dispersing into wider areas of emptiness. The materials of the composition consist of fragments of jazz-derived figures and recognizable motives. In general, these elements are combined in a collage.

Born in 1924 in Paragould, Arkansas, James Whitsitt attended public schools at Little Rock, Arkansas, where he played first trombone in the Little Rock High School Band. A veteran of World War II, he served in European Theater. He earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees (major in composition) at the University of Southern California where he studied with Halsey Stevens, Ingolf Dahl, and Roger Sessions. He received his Masters degree in 1950. Currently retired, Whitsitt has held the following positions: (1) Instructor in Theory, Composition and Brass, Eastern New Mexico University, 1950-3; (2) Recording Artist (trombone) in the Los Angeles area from 1955-1970; (3) Assistant Conductor, Arranger, and Trombonist in the Disneyland Band from 1955-1961; (4) Instructor in Theory and Electronic Music at San Diego Mesa College from 1970 to 1990; and (5) Founder/ Conductor, Mesa College Community Orchestra 1970-9.

JoAnn Kuchera-Morin (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Aquaformes is a one-movement composition for computer-generated tape which explores various timbres that give the effect of light refraction under water. Atmospheric depth and pressure of the water environment is accomplished by movable reverberation and filtering with a variable band pass filter whose center frequency is at least two octaves above the fundamental frequency. Underwater flute instruments are constructed by the process of spectrally warping synthesized flute tones.

The musical structure of the composition is based on set theoretic principles utilized in obtaining harmonic structures. Procedures of transposition, inversion, complement mapping, similarity relations, multiplicative transformation and other mathematical operations are applied to generate the harmonic vocabulary.

The piece was realized on a VAX11/750/SUN computer system at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Aquaformes was completed in March, 1987.

JoAnn Kuchera-Morin is Associate Professor of Composition and Director of the Center for Computer Music Research and Composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She received her Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music in 1984. Her recent commissions include Concerto for Clarinet and Clarinets, a composition for solo clarinet and computer-generated tape and Dreampaths, a cantata for soprano, Elizabeth Mannion, computer-generated tape and five singers. Her most recent performances include a premiere of <I<>Concerto for Clarinet and Clarinets at the 1991 International Computer Music Conference in Montreal, Canada, a tour of Concert Artists Guild's 1990 performance winner, clarinetist Hakan Rosengren, who performed Yugen, for solo clarinet, in Los Angeles, New York City, Boston and Miami, a premiere of Dreampaths at the 1989 International Computer Music Conference, and a reading of Tachyons for string orchestra, performed by members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Santa Barbara Symphony with Varujan Kojan conducting. Other performances include Aquaformes for computer-generated tape, premiered at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and performed at the 1987 New Music Festival in Brazil and the 1987 International Computer Music Conference. Her works have also received many other performances throughout Europe and the United States. Aquaformes was also chosen to compete in the 1988 Bourges Festival Competition. Awards include the ASCAP/Hanson award for innovative chamber music and the 1989 Harold J. Plous Award for excellence in research.

Paul Lansky (Princeton University)

Night Traffic
The sounds of traffic are probably among the most explicitly unmusical noises we can imagine-music to no one's ears. Even so, there is a kind of randomness, violence, and rhythmic intensity (great Doppler shifts!) which draw upon all sorts of musical perceptions. Night Traffic is a musical filter on the noises of a local four-lane highway recorded one night in 1990. The imposition of slowly shifting harmonies and timbres create large-scale musical shapes which attempt to impose some order and sense on this chaos, while explicating whatever implicit music there is in the movements of these large violent machines. I got the idea for this piece from a former student, Eric Forte, whom I taught when I visited the California Institute of the Arts in 1987. Eric did a wonderful piece called 5, which was a quiet, and simple processing of United States Highway 5, which runs past Cal Arts. I decided to see what my more high-strung sensibilities would come up with if I dealt with this sort of material, and Night Traffic is the result.

Paul Lansky was seduced by the musical potential of computers when he was a graduate student at Princeton in the mid 1960s (he is now Professor of Music there). Abandoning a promising career as a French Horn player (Dorian Wind Quintet, 1965-66) for less certain realms of composition, he found that creating his own sounds on the computer was not unlike performing. During the 1970s his interest in computer music shifted from "the search for new sounds" to the use of the computer as a kind of aural camera on the sounds of the world, and since that time he has written a number of pieces which use computer technology to find new music in familiar places. His works have been recorded on CRI, Columbia-Odyssey, Nonesuch, Wergo, New Albion, Centaur, Neuma and Bridge Records.

Max Mathews (Stanford University)

Max V. Mathews (b. 1926) is currently Professor of Music (Research) at Stanford University. He received a Bachelors degree from the California Institute of Technology (1950 with honor) and a Masters degree (1952) and a Doctorate (1954) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Mathews directed the Acoustical and Behavioral Research Center from 1962 to 1985. This laboratory carried out research in speech communication, visual communication, human memory and learning, programmed instruction, analysis of subjective opinions, physical acoustics, and industrial robotics. Mr. Mathews' personal research is concerned with sound and music synthesis with digital computers and with the application of computers to areas in which man-machine interactions are critical. He developed a program (Music V) for the direct digital synthesis of sounds and a program (Groove) for the computer control of a sound synthesizer. Music V and its successors are now widely used in the United States and Europe. His past research included development of computer methods for speech processing, studies of human speech production, studies of auditory masking, and the invention of techniques for computer drawing of typography. He is currently investigating the effect of resonances on sound quality.

Tod Machover (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Flora, Machover's shortest piece, was composed in 1989 as a collaboration (mostly by Fax) with Yoichiro Kawaguchi, a Japanese computer graphics artist. Although much of Machover's music of the last ten years has encompassed the combination of acoustic instruments and voices with computer electronics, Flora is his only work that was imagined for pre-recorded medium only, without any live performance version. This piece is based on soprano Karol Bennett's voice, recorded, transformed, and complemented by computer electronics at the MIT Media Lab, including a Synclavier Direct-to-Disk and Sampling system controlled and manipulated by specially developed "hyper-instrument" tools. Flora was commissioned by Tokyo's Fuji Television and Nippon Electronics College. Its premiere was at the 1989 Tanglewood Festival.

Tod Machover (b. 1953, New York) studied at the Juilliard School with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at the Juilliard School. He was in Paris at Pierre Boulez's IRCAM institute, where he served for five years as its Director of Musical Research. Since 1985 he has worked at the MIT Media Laboratory, where he is Associate Professor of Music and Media, and Director of the Experimental Media Facility. Mr. Machover's music has been widely performed throughout the world, and has been awarded numerous prizes and honors. His highly acclaimed opera Valis, commissioned for the 10th anniversary of Paris' Pompidou Center, received a new production at Tokyo's Bunkamura Theater in 1990, and the recording of the work was named a "best recording of the year 1989" by The New York Times. Mr. Machover's most recent compact disc, Flora, was named a "best recording of the year 1990" by The Boston Globe. Besides his composing, Mr. Machover performs as a cellist and conductor, and has concentrated on the design of new technology, called "hyperinstruments," to augment the expressive power of acoustic and electronic instruments. His most recent work, for hyperkeyboards, was premiered last month in Chicago. Mr. Machover has recently composed a hypercello work for Yo-Yo Ma, and a hyperviola concerto for the Los Angeles Philharmonic; he is currently working on a hyperviolin concerto for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In addition, he is working on two new opera projects, one with director Peter Sellars.

Robert Willey (University of California, San Diego)

Unprepared Music for Prepared Violins
Unprepared Music for Prepared Violins was the first in a series of pieces for a variety of instruments (voice, recorders, keyboard, guitar, saxophone, ballerina) in which the composer/programmer prepares an environment for a performer. It is hoped that this gives the performers new experiences to stimulate their improvisations.

Robert Willey has been making music with computers at the University of California, San Diego for over ten years. Since receiving his Ph.D. in music he has been a research associate at the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts working with an exchange program with CCRMA (Stanford) and LIPM (Buenos Aires). He is deeply involved in the development of performing systems which he uses in his compositions and in collaboration with violinist János Négyesy. He also teaches electronic music and computer programming for UCSD Extension and the department of Applied Mathematics and Engineering Sciences. In the last year he has taught and performed in Argentina, Brazil, and Finland.