Broken Thoughts for MIDI piano and computers by Keeril Makan
John McGinn, piano
20 Questions for tape by Jonathan Norton
Esquisse for flute and electronics by Ronald Bruce Smith
Mathew Krejci, flute
Incantation S4 for saxophone and electronics by Matthew Burtner
Matthew Burtner, tenor saxophone
Escuela for piano and live electronics by Christopher Burns
Christopher Jones, piano
String X-ing for violin and tape by Tom Swafford
Tom Swafford, violin
iICEsCcRrEeAaMm for four-channel tape by Fernando Lopez-Lezcano
Fracture for tenor saxophone and electronics by Bruce Bennett
Gary Scavone, tenor saxophone
Broken Thoughts by Keeril Makan
Some Thoughts on Broken Thoughts:
Technology can extend the acoustic experience. The timbres, gestures, and the very space from which the sound emanates should originate in the acoustic instrument, in this case, the piano. All sounds are based on piano sounds. I was able to separate the percussive, hammer attack from the longer, resonant decay of the struck piano note. All sounds are created in real time in response to the gestures of the pianist. The MIDI piano in combination with both a sampler and a real time, software based, additive synthesis engine make this possible. All the computer-generated sound is localized by placing one speaker under the piano, blending together the sound of the piano and the synthesis.
Being unable to continue and develop a train of thought, musical ideas repeat and change, but ultimately their physicality is more compelling than their meaning. As the pianist's gestures become disassociated from the sounds they produce, the music becomes strangely emotive, as memory is in the foreground and the pianist's presence diminishes.
Broken Thoughts was realized at CNMAT (The Center for New Music and Audio Technology), with the assistance of Amar Chaudhary, through the support of a Garrett W. McEnerney Grant. Special thanks to Edmund Campion, David Wessel, Matt Wright and Richard Andrews.
20 Questions (1997 rev. 1999) by Jonathan Norton
What is a question? How are questions formulated? As the mind wrestles to grasp the concept of a subject, inevitably, questions begin to form . But not all questions are created equal. Some may be ill-conceived and make no sense, resulting in more confusion. Some well thought out questions, once asked, can be enlightening but raise yet further questions. Some are really not questions at all, but simply a reiteration of the subject in the inquirer's own words in an attempt to understand. Sometimes frustration ensues, and the inquiry must be re-approached. From thought to vocalization this piece explores the musical texture of a question. This piece was realized through the use of granular synthesis, spectral reshaping and the re-sampling of vocal samples and computerized instruments. All signal processing was done on a Apple PowerPC.
Incantation S4 by Matthew Burtner
Incantation S4 (1997) explores the integration of the saxophone and electronics as equal elements within a single, non narrative sound-space. Techniques of digital audio synthesis such as granular synthesis, spectral mutation, and spectral resonance influenced the compositional approach to the saxophone while the electronic part was inspired by a natural and organic conception of sound. "Incantation S4" is dedicated to Barry Truax and was composed during a residency at Simon Fraser University using the PODX system for quasi-synchronous granular synthesis. It was recently released on a solo CD of Burtner's music, "Portals of Distortion: Music for Saxophones, Computers, and Stones" from Innova Records (Innova 526).
Escuela by Christopher Burns
Escuela is the second in a series of piano pieces which somehow refer to places where I've lived - in this case, my first home in California, on Escuela Avenue. The piece is also bound up in my early experiences as a graduate student, thereby enriching the meaning of the title. In Escuela, a computer is employed to modify the sound of the piano during the performance. The performer controls this process from the piano keyboard, applying ring modulations which precisely reflect the pitch structure of the original piano music. The result is a kind of mirroring - the electronics describe the piano's music in the way that they alter its sound. Thanks to Juan Pampin for assistance with the software, and especially to Chris Jones, who provided invaluable advice on early drafts of the piece.
String X-ing by Tom Swafford
My goal in writing String X-ing was to combine my interests in composed and freely improvised music. I recorded myself playing short improvisations (the longest was about 2 minutes) and organized the material by category (pizzicato, glissando, lyrical melody, etc.). I used this palette of musical fragments to create the tape part. The live violin part (which is partly improvised itself) is made up of material derived from transcriptions of the original improvised fragments. The name String X-ing is an abbreviation I used to label one of the categories of musical fragments. I also like the X because it conjures up the name Xenakis, whose use of extended technique for strings inspired me during the composition of this piece.
iICEsCcRrEeAaMm by Fernando Lopez-Lezcano
iICEsCcRrEeAaMm is now definitely in beta test. As in the software world, Marketing informs me that in future versions bugs will be squashed and new features will be added for the benefit of all listeners. "iscream" refers to the origin of most of the concrete sound materials used in the piece. Screams and various other utterances from all of Chris Chafe's kids were digitally recorded in all their chilling and quite upsetting beauty. They were latter digitally fed into the "grani" sample grinder, a granular synthesis instrument developed by the composer. "ICECREAM" refers to the reward the kids (and myself) got after the screaming studio session. The piece was composed in the digital domain using Bill Schottstaedt's Common Lisp Music. Many software instruments and quite a few other samples of real world sounds made their way into the bit stream.
Fracture for tenor saxophone and electronics (1995, rev. 1998) by Bruce Christian Bennett
Fracture, for tenor saxophone and four-channel signal processing, was commissioned by Michael F. Zbyszynski during the Fall of 1995. The signal processor used in this work is the ensoniq DP/4, controlled by a Macintosh computer running MAX software. I programmed MAX to change presets on the DP/4, to cross-fade between presets, and to control various parameters of the signal processing and the midi-mixer in real time. The performer uses a midi-foot switch to trigger the events stored in the computer. Most of the musical material of Fracture is derived from the opening measure; my intention was to fragment and elaborate the opening gesture over the course of the work in a way that was interactive with the electronics. The signal processing is carefully prepared to respond dynamically to the performer's playing. I was not interested in merely composing a piece for saxophone and electronic accompaniment; rather, I hoped to effectively allow the electronics to influence the musical material of the saxophone itself. For example, nearly two-thirds of the way into the piece, the saxophone line dissolves into noise and an exploration of harmonics; also, at various points throughout the piece the opening motif fragments and is offset by fractions of the beat in play with digital delays spatialized across all four channels. In this manner I hope to have more fully integrated the saxophone and its electronic complement into a more unified whole.
Bruce Christian Bennett (b. 1968) is a native of Seattle who has lived in San Francisco since 1991. He is a Ph.D. candidate in music composition at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is a student of Richard Felciano and is involved in research and composition at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT). He received his M.M. in composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1993, where he studied composition with Andrew Imbrie and Elinor Armer, and his B.A. in music from Reed College in 1990, where he was a student of David Schiff. He is active not only as a composer, but also as a conductor and presenter of new music, an improviser, a vocalist, pianist, and an electro-acoustic musician. His works have been performed throughout the United States and abroad.
Christopher Burns is a graduate student at CCRMA. A founding member of the Balinese gong kebyar ensemble Gamelan Jagat Anyar, his compositions reflect his experiences with Indonesian music as well as his study of computer techniques.
C. Matthew Burtner (1970) is a doctoral student in composition at Stanford University. A native of Alaska, he studied philosophy at St. Johns College, composition at Tulane University (BFA '93), computer music composition in Paris at Xenakis's CEMAMu/UPIC studios, and computer music at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University (MM '97). His pieces, commissioned by performers such as Phyllis Bryn-Julson, the Spectri Sonori Ensemble, Norway's MiN Ensemble, the Peabody Trio, and the Quiescence Dance Ensemble, have been performed throughout the United States and Europe as well as in Japan, Canada, Australia, and Brazil. As a saxophonist Burtner is interested in experimental electroacoustic music and enjoys performing works which explore the unique acoustical properties of the saxophone.
Amar Chaudhary (b. 1973) has long pursued both musical and technological interests. Amar grew up in suburban New York, where he studied piano and composition with Ruth Schonthal at the Westchester Conservatory of Music, and also spent countless hours playing around with the family computer. Honors for his early musical work include a 1991 National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts award in music, and a 1992 premier of his clarinet quartet at Weill Recital Hall in New York. He received a B.S. with honors in Music and Computer Science from Yale University in 1995, and is now a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. As a researcher at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT), he is developing advanced software for music composition and performance. In his bountiful spare time, Amar continues to compose independently.
Composer and pianist, Christopher Jones was born in 1969 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As a pianist, Christopher has extensive experience performing contemporary music. In addition to numerous solo performances, he has worked with the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, the New Vienna Ensemble at IU, New Works Calgary, the University of Calgary New Music Ensemble, and the Group for Contemporary Music at the University of Washington in Seattle. Christopher has had performances recorded for radio broadcast by WGBH in Boston, and CBC in Calgary. Christopher completed his Bachelor of Music in piano performance at the New England Conservatory, and a Master of Music in piano at Indiana University. Currently, he is completing a Master's degree in composition at the University of Calgary, and is pursuing a DMA in composition at Stanford University.
Flutist Mathew Krejci, born in Cleveland to a family of musicians, was a member of the Sacramento Symphony for nineteen years. He is now Professor of Flute in the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California and Principal Flute of the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra. He has studied with James Pellerite at Indiana University, and Maurice Sharp, of the Cleveland Institute of Music. Active in chamber music, he has performed with the contemporary music ensemble, Music Now in a concert at the Los Angeles Museum of Art and is a member of and President of the Board of the Chamber Music Society of Sacramento. He also performs with San Francisco's Earplay, an ensemble which specializes in new music. In March, Mr. Krejci performed Pablo Furman's Matices Coincidentes at the SEAMUS convention at San Jose State University and will perform Jennifer Higdon's spectacular solo flute piece, Rapid Fire in concerts in Sacramento and at the Music Teachers Association of California convention in Monterey. For fourteen years, Mr. Krejci has been Principal Flute of the Bear Valley Music Festival. He has appeared there as soloist on the Bach, Suite in a minor and the Concerto for Flute and Harp by Mozart. In 1997, Mr. Krejci and his violinist son, Evan, were invited by the Slovak government to tour the Slovak Republic as part of the Slovaks Living Abroad Festival. They performed solos and chamber music with other Slovak artists from around the world. He has been invited to tour Slovakia again in July of 1999. His CD, music from the jazz suites of Claude Bolling, has been issued by Klavier Records.
Fernando Lopez-Lezcano (Buenos Aires, 1956) received both a Master in Electronic Engineering (Faculty of Engineering, University of Buenos Aires) and a Master in Music (Carlos Lopez Buchardo National Conservatory, Buenos Aires). He started working with electroacoustic music by building his own analog studio and synthesizers around 1976. After graduating he worked for nine years in industry as microprocessor hardware and software Design Engineer while simultaneously pursuing his interests in electroacoustic music composition. His 1986 piece "Quest" won a mention in the 1990 Bourges Competition. He spent one year at CCRMA as Invited Composer, as part of an exchange program between LIPM in Argentina, CCRMA at Stanford and CRCA at UCSD, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. He latter did research and taught for one year at the Shonan Fujisawa Campus of Keio University, Japan. He is currently Lecturer and Systems Administrator of the computer resources at CCRMA, where he splits his time between the company of good friends, keeping computers and users at CCRMA more or less happy and enjoying the arts of composing music and writing software. His music has been released on CD's and played in the Americas, Europe and East Asia.
Keeril Makan has completed his M.A. in Composition at the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently in the Ph.D. program, where he has studied with Jorge Liderman, Richard Felciano and Edwin Dugger. In the spring of 1998 he received a grant to work at CNMAT (Center for New Music and Technology), where he studied with Edmund Campion and David Wessel, and created a new work (Broken Thoughts) for MIDI piano and computers. He received a B.M. in Composition from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a B.A. in Religion from Oberlin College. Keeril has received awards from the ASCAP Foundation and from the University of California, Berkeley. His music has been performed by the New York New Music Ensemble, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, the Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players and the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, among others, and has participated in June in Buffalo, the Advanced Master Class at the Aspen Music Festival and the Composers' Workshop in Long Beach.
Over the past decade, composer/keyboardist John McGinn has achieved widespread acclaim as a performer of new and recent music, appearing with such groups as Earplay and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (San Francisco), American Camerata, Opera Americana and the Kennedy Center Orchestra (Washington, D.C.), the Orchestra of St. Luke's (New York), and operatic and theatrical groups around the United States and Europe. This Spring, the AmCam label will release his tenth professional recording, a CD of 20th-century solo piano works plus three improvisations. Other recording credits include several works by Berkeley composer John Adams (Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, Fearful Symmetries), song cycles by Russell Woollen with soprano Linda Mabbs, and numerous chamber works with American Camerata. Mr. McGinn has recently received his D.M.A. in composition from Stanford University.
Jonathan Norton (b.1966) He is currently finishing a Ph.D. in computer-based music theory at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University. During his time at Stanford he studied with John Chowning, Julius Smith, Max Mathews, Chris Chafe, and Jonathan Harvey. He received his masters in music composition at Northwestern University. His works for dance, acoustic instruments, tape, and soundtracks have been performed and heard throughout the world in festivals and on television in the USA, Russia, Spain, Japan, Monaco, Italy, France, and Switzerland. For a full list of his compositions can be seen at http://www-ccrma.stanford.edu/~norton.
Gary Scavone specializes in the performance of contemporary concert music and encourages new works incorporating the saxophone. He studied saxophone with Ronald Caravan and Sigurd Rascher at Syracuse University, as well as with Jean-Marie Londeix at the National Conservatory of France in Bordeaux while on a Fulbright Scholarship. While living in New York, he was a member of the Aeolian Saxophone Quartet and principal alto saxophonist with the New York Chamber Saxophones. Mr. Scavone is currently Technical Director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University, where he received a Ph.D in "Computer-Based Music Theory & Acoustics" and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. On a lighter note, Mr. Scavone prides himself with having performed in almost every major European capital --- as a street musician during the summers of 1987, 1988, and 1990.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Juan Pampin has studied composition with Oscar Edelstein and Francisco Kröpfl. He holds a Master in Computer Music from the Conservatoire Nationale Supérieur de Musique de Lyon, where he studied with Denis Lorrain and Philippe Manoury. As a Visiting Composer at CCRMA in 1994, he composed the tape piece Apocalypse was postponed due to lack of interest that received an award in the Concours International de Musique Éléctroacoustique de Bourges 1995. He has been composer in residence at the LIEM-CDMC studio in Madrid, and guest lecturer at Quilmes National University in Argentina. As a Ph.D student at CCRMA, Juan Pampin has collaborated with professor Jonathan Harvey creating the electronic sounds for his pieces "Ashes Dance Back" (1996), and "Wheel of Emptiness" (1997). As part of his research work he has developed the ATS spectral modeling software used both for Harvey's pieces and for his own compositions. He has created a computer-based version for the live electronics of Karlheinz Stockhausen's piece "Mantra", performed by Tom Schultz and Joan Nagano in the Alea II concert series. In the present, Juan Pampin's main compositional project is a cycle of percussion pieces with electronics. This cycle will be completed by the end of next year with a percussion quartet, the final project for his DMA in composition at Stanford. Mr. Pampin's music includes works for acoustic instruments, computer music and mixed media, that have been performed in the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia.
Ronald Bruce Smith studied composition at the University of Toronto, McGill University and the University of California, Berkeley from which he received the Ph.D. in Music Composition. He has also studied in Paris with Tristan Murail and at IRCAM. He has received many awards and commissions for his works. Recent performers of his music include the Aitken/Tureski Duo, the Arraymusic Ensemble, Artemis, the California E.A.R. Unit, Cikada Ensemble, Continuum Ensemble, Earplay, Pierrot Ensemble, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Sirius Ensemble, Sonus Imaginorem, New Works Calgary Ensemble,Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and at festivals in Europe, the Americas and Australia.
Tom Swafford is pursuing a Ph.D. in composition at U.C. Berkeley.
He grew up in Seattle and studied violin with Bryan Boughten and
Karla Kantner. He also was a member of the Seattle Youth Symphony
under V. Sokal. In addition to composition, Tom is active as an
improviser in the Bay Area. He plays with the not24c improvisation
ensemble and has performed with Bay Area improvisers John Schott
and Dan Plonsey. In 1997 he received an Eisner Prize, the most
prestigious prize in the arts given at U. C. Berkeley, for his
orchestra piece Friend or Fiend. His compositions have been performed
in Boston, Berkeley and Seattle.