Combustible (2008-09, 9:30) Intricate combinations of combustible materials (fuels, oxygen and ignitions) are brought into close proximity, sparking processes in the early phases of the piece that sputter and die out, leaving trails of heat and exhaust. The combinations become more efficient and volatile and begin to propel semi-stable processes that strive to connect and evolve. But after a few false steps this theater self-destructs, blowing itself to smithereens. Then nothing; an interlude in a void. But the vacuum gets penetrated and smashed then refilled and pulverized, only to make way for new combustible combinations and processes to flourish.
Squelch (2005-06, 14:10) The title Squelch refers to two things. First, repression. It is about the tendency of forces, both internal and external, to repress or squelch self-expression. One battles and negotiates with these forces, striving to give priority to the creative endeavor but not always winning. The second reference is to the so-called "squelch filter" that was built into higher priced consumer radios during the 1970s and 1980s. Before the squelch filter, tuning into a station meant you had to continuously dial through and listen to all of the "out-of-range" noise and distortion; stuff in the nether-regions of terrestrial signal emission and reception. (It was great fun hearing it, if you were aurally warped.) The squelch filter helped, kind of. It detects when the coherent signal becomes too weak and it mutes (squelches) the radioŐs output. Often the gate came down only after you got a very noticeable glitch of noise or a faint but apparent fuzzing out of the signal. You would hear silence until you dialed into a clearly receivable signal again. I found a metaphor in the two references to "squelching." Inspiration and creation is a fragile state, like the small frequency bands and physical ranges to which a radio station transmits and receives. Concentration and steadiness is required to maintain that state, and it can be so easily interrupted, much like a radioŐs reception is thwarted by the slightest turn of the dial. Inspiration evaporates until it can be dialed in again. In this composition, which is three interwoven pieces, there is some music, representingÉ music. You may hear it. There is also a lot of everyday concrete sound -- real life, interrupting yet fueling inspiration and self-expression. And, there is the noise, fuzzing-out, distortion and breakage, representing the pre-squelch moment -- that point just before the squelch filter kicks, or you reach a new "station" in the composition. The squelch moment can be either the end or the beginning of creation and abstraction. It just depends on how the dial is moving and your reception.
Cycle (2004, 7:22) After 30 years of composing and exploring diverse styles, Cycle is another of my little mutants. This deviant takes the form of so-called "Spectral Music". The source sounds for Cycle are drawn almost exclusively from
traditional orchestral instruments -- thanks to The Electronic Music Studios of The University of Iowa . These sounds are processed to varying degrees, from untouched to completely unrecognizable, depending on the function they serve within the piece at any moment.
Note from Patzcuaro (2003, 4:17)
The latest in a series of "audio postcards" (or abstract travelogues), which also includes portraits of Japan, Morocco, New York City, and Dalyan, Turkey. Patzcuaro is a relatively small town (population 45,000) nestled in the volcanic hillsides of the State of Michoacan, Mexico. The cultural center of this town is found in its 16th Century churches, outdoor markets, and Lake Patzcuaro. The piece is assembled from raw and processed field recordings that I made while visiting Patzcuaro in 1995.
An artistically licensed (loose knit) plaid, woven from disparate sonic threads, broadly grouped by bandwidth and density -- from pure sine tones to white noise, from continuous to particulate. Many switchbacks occur and the threads doubleback on themselves as the fabric materializes. But the end reveals the patternęs loop point, and the plaid is complete. This piece is dedicated to Debra.
Things Frankie Heard (2002, 12:23)
What if we heard the world the way cats do? To start with, our perceptible
frequency range would increase five fold, topping out at 100kHz (versus
human's measly 20kHz). Our ability to pinpoint the location of a sound
source would also improve immensely. Cats can distinguish the locations
of two sounds emitted just 18 inches apart, at a distance of over 60 feet.
J-Wake (2001, 12:45)
J-Wake was inspired by the gradual erosion of footprints in sand, caused
by forces such as wind and repeated waves lapping up and over the shoreline.
It is a process of deconstruction; the disintegration of that which was
initially whole and identifiable, into that which is indistinguishable
from its surroundings.
five haiku (2000, 20:38)
The inspirations for this work came during sittings atop the Broadway steps,
overlooking San Francisco's Financial District, North Beach, and Chinatown.
Here, numerous "haiku" blew into mind, effortlessly and as naturally as
old day, café
big city glowing
bright day car
a pin dropping, sounds
five haiku is electroacoustic music. The raw materials include
field recordings made on walks in San Francisco that were processed and
mixed using a variety of computer software: U&I Software's MetaSynth,
Digidesign's ProTools, Cloud Generator (Roads and Alexander), Alberto Ricci's
SoundMaker, various signal-processing and effects software created by Muscle
Fish, Steinberg and Digidesign.
Maroc (1998, 21:13) is an audio
postcard, or abstract travelogue, composed from over 500 found (live) and
imaginary (constructed) recordings, which were drawn from a trip I made
to Morocco in December 1997. The sounds include many street scenes made
in the medinas (old cities) of Fez, Tanjer, Marrekesh, and Chef-chaouen.
Both secular and sacred life of the country is represented.
All of these raw recordings were digitized
into an Apple Macintosh computer, and then mixed and processed by the composer
using a variety of sound-processing software including Turbosynth and Sound
Designer II (Digidesign), Cloud Generator (Roads & Alexander), Hyperprism
(Arboretum), Deck II (OSC), and MF-DSP (Muscle Fish). The work was realized
over a four-month period, from December, 1997 through March, 1998.
To My Son Parker, Asleep in the Next Room
(1996, 9:34) The poem To My Son Parker, Asleep in the Next Room was written
by Bob Kaufman sometime around 1960 as an ode to his son, named after Charlie
Parker. Although less famous than his cohorts in the Beat movement (Ginsberg,
Ferlinghetti, Corso, McClure, etc.), Kaufman was nevertheless held in high
esteem by them and with good cause.
Japanese Postcard (1995, 14:18) is the first in a series of "audio postcards". It is mixed from on-location recordings I made in Japan in the late 1980s and early '90s. Japanese Postcard is somewhat narrative in that it attempts to document the impressions, before and after the visits. The source recordings were made in Tokyo, Hamamatsu, and Kyoto. The sounds are intentionally left in a somewhat raw, unprocessed state so as to capture the actual Japanese soundscape. In general, my "postcard" pieces are more documentary than musical but, of course, that opinion may vary from listener to listener depending on the ear of the beholder.
Three Studies for Pedal Steel (1995,
9:07) "Pedal Stolen", "Stedal Peel", "Sample Bash Rag". These brief pieces,
each approximately 3 minutes in duration, are a culmination of the
composer's life-long love for the pedal steel guitar, and the genres
in which it is typically heard. The original content for these pieces
consists entirely of recordings of pedal steel which were digitally processed
using Turbosynth and Sound Design II (Digidesign), Hyperprism (Arboretum),
Alchemy (Passport), and Max (Opcode).