Program Notes

Forest Murmurs (2009)

(recording of Richard Wagner’s Forest Murmurs (Waldweben) from Siegfreid, the third opera of Der Ring des Nibelungen, performed by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York conducted by James Levine, combined with original electronic music, sounds of rain, a brook, insects, small and large animals, and birds)

There are seven recorded tracks, plus the orchestral music. The ‘environmental’ samples on each track were arranged independently of one another and separated by varied durations of silence. Only those ‘natural’ sounds were used that are indigenous to German woodlands.

My Favorite Things (2010)

(from The Sound of Music by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein performed by mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade from the 1987 studio recording, film star Julie Andrews from the movie track, the John Coltrane Quartet from the 1961 recording, vocalist Bobby McFarrin ‘live’ in Copenhagen, concert pianist Stephen Hough from his recording of virtuoso encores and transcriptions*, and popular singer Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose. along with a variety of electronic sounds)

The popular song My Favorite Things is one of the most arranged, recorded, and performed songs of all time. I must confess I was unable to resist an attempt to uncover the hidden meaning, or essence, of this simple music. The melody seems to reside in both major and minor modalities simultaneously, which, faithful to its subject, evokes a deep sense of nostalgia that is nearly irresistible to the listener.

In this recording, there are nine recorded tracks, six ‘performance’ tracks and three electronic tracks. The performances of the five primary artists were divided into short musical segments. The segments were then separated by silences. Finally, the segments were recombined to form various duets, trios, etc. and mixed with electronics.

* (It is Stephen Hough’s transcription for piano that he performs on his album My Favorite Things.)

What Would Berio Say? (2016)

(most of the original recorded music from Luciano Berio Sequenza IX – Alain Damiens, Clarinet Solo, and Sequenza IV – Florant Boffard, Piano Solo, along with digitally modified animal sounds and a few electronic sounds by John Holland)

Various mammal and bird songs from America and Europe were mixed with two musical tracks of the famous Sequenzas from the pen of Italian-Americam composer Luciano Berio. The result is an artificially programmed duo for Clarinet and Piano, with electronic accompaniment. The clarinet and piano tracks were produced in the order in which they occur in the original, except for a minute or so of music deleted from the beginning and end.

I have played this duet repeatedly in my mind for a number of years before finally succumbing to the urge to actualize it.

Conversation Piece (2006)

(recorded segments from throat-singers of Asia and Canada *, throat patients ‘speaking’ through implanted electronic larynx devices **, digital and processed human voices, and voices of animals)

I think of this composition as an electronic choral work, founded on the tradition of the unaccompanied motet. The recordings of throat-singing are from northern Asian and Canadian tribes, and include Tuvan, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Canadian Inuit Katajjaq songs. Recorded animal sounds were sampled from animals around the world in their various habitats, including a bison, camel, chimpanzee, dolphin, elephant, jungle frog, hyena, leopard, monkey, moose, panda bear, polar bear, prairie dog, whale, zebra. Digital sounds include John R. Pierce’s first version of Bicycle Built for Two, and a reference to Charles Dodge’s Any Resemblance is Purely Coincidental. Recordings of throat patients with an artificial voice box often sound similar to modern computer voices, and at other times are nearly indistinguishable from certain animal voices.

Each recorded track was separated into short musical segments, naturally bounded by silences. The segments were then recombined independently of one another, and separated by varied durations of silence.

*   by permission of Robert Beahrs (throat-singing.blogspot.com)
** from recording of unknown origin (c. 1960’s)

Love and Death (2010)

 (Richard Wagner’s Prelude and Libestod from his opera Tristan und Isolde, performed by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York conducted by James Levine, Maurice Rave’s Bolero with Claudio Abbado conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, combined with original electronic music, and Luciano Berio’s Visage (1961) containing electronic sounds, and vocal sounds by Cathy Berberian)

There are four recorded tracks, altogether. The music, I would hope, is self-explanatory.

Chaconne (2008)

(recorded and digitally modified violin samples of J. S. Bach’s Chaconne from Partitia No. 2 in d minor for Solo Violin BWV 1004, combined with original electronic music)

I separated the iconic Bach Chaconne into 49 violin segments based on the natural breaks or character distinctions that occur within the music. I used all of the original music.
These violin segments were numbered, then recombined randomly onto a single track, with little or no separation of silence between them. True random numbers were used, generated by noisy conditions in the Earth’s atmosphere. The segments range in duration from several seconds to half a minute.

After reconfiguring the Chaconne, I digitally modified the segments then added various tracks of original electronic music.

The recorded violin samples were selected from the complete set of Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by J. S. Bach, recorded by Henryk Szeryng in 1968.

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