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Various Artists | Currents

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Electronic: Soundscapes Electronic: Electronica Moods: Type: Experimental
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by Various Artists

Music by contemporary composers in the United States working in the electroacoustic medium with natural and synthetic sounds.
Genre: Electronic: Soundscapes
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Kinetics I
Preston Trombly
5:52 $0.99
2. Kinetics II
Preston Trombly
6:16 $0.99
3. Nullius in Verba
Robert Scott Thompson
9:03 $0.99
4. Arabesque
Daria Semegen
7:47 $0.99
5. Sonar Study I
Scott L. Miller
12:16 $0.99
6. Transcendental Assembly
Matthew Greenbaum
8:12 $0.99
7. Quarter Tone Fantasy
Hubert Howe
9:21 $0.99
8. White Heron Dance
Alice Shields
14:11 $0.99
9. Recollections of Gifts
Burton Beerman
9:00 $0.99
10. Interactions
Mark Thome
3:16 $0.99
11. Private Practice
Joel Gressel
8:55 $0.99
12. Almost an Island
John Gibson
5:55 $0.99
13. Electronic Miniature
Arthur Kreiger
3:20 $0.99
14. Fanfare Mix Transpose
Harvey Sollberger
8:57 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Notes from the composers on this double album:
Album 1

“Kinetics I” and “Kinetics II” (1969)
Preston Trombly

These pieces are examples of what was then called “tape music”: using electronic sounds generated and manipulated by electronic devices, recorded on magnetic tape with different sounds spliced together. Then the magnetic tape segments were further manipulated - played forwards, backwards, upside down, slower and faster - the same techniques that Bach used - to create a finished work.

In those days, the electronic music studio (at Yale School of Music) was my ‘instrument’ in the same way that the piano was the instrument of Beethoven, Chopin and Thelonious Monk.

To make a parallel comparison to the visual arts, think of the electronic music studio as my palette and the tape as my canvas. The analogy is strengthened by the fact that the composer actually produces the end result, just like a painter.
Traditionally composers create a ‘plan’ (score) that is then executed by the performer(s).

As I worked on these pieces, I began to realize that I was creating a musical world of motion and direction, a “Kinetic” music that didn’t rely on the traditional means of harmonic progression to do so.

“Kinetics II” was the first purely electronic piece of music to receive the Student Composer Award from Broadcast Music, Inc. in 1969.

Nullius in Verba (2018)
Robert Scott Thompson

2-channel stereo, 9 minutes
Nullius in Verba translates from the Latin as “on the word of no one.” This acousmatic composition incorporates field and studio recordings and their transformation and elaboration. Sound sources include vocal, percussion, flute and ‘cello sources together with mechanical and environmental sounds. The music is conceived as a kind of “song without words,” and in working on it, I was reminded of Mendelssohn: “What the music I love expresses to me, is not thought too indefinite to be put into words, but on the contrary, too definite.” Techniques used for the work include ambisonic spatialization and spectral transformation methods. Tools used include Kyma, Csound, Metasynth, Cecelia, Trajectory and Spat Revolution.

Arabesque (1992)
Daria Semegen

Arabesque is a classic analog studio electronic music composition using analog studio sound sources, modification devices, editing and mixing techniques. Buchla 200 Electric Music Box synthesizer was used to create some of the source sounds. These sounds were then modified, edited and mixed on other analog studio devices to transform their originally coarser aesthetic qualities into musically more expressive sonic personas for this piece.

Arabesque was commissioned by the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) and Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center-NYC. It was completed at the Stony Brook University Electronic Music Studio in 1992. The work is dedicated to the memory of electronic music pioneer Bülent Arel whom Vladimir Ussachevsky invited to worked at CP-EMC. Arel designed and installed the first electronic music studios at Yale University and Stony Brook University. He was a colleague and friend of Edgard Varèse. In 1962 they collaborated in the creation of the electronic-music portions of Varèse’s landmark work Deserts for wind ensemble and percussion.

Arabesque was premiered at Columbia University’s Miller Theater at a 1992 ISCM concert during which composer Milton Babbitt was honored with the William Schuman Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music. The New York Times wrote that Semegen’s “Arabesque avoided electronic cliché through lighthearted inventiveness and showed an interesting sonic imagination at play.”

SonAR Study I: St. Cloud State University (2018)
Scott L. Miller

The Sonic Augmented Reality (SonAR) project by composer/sound designer Scott L. Miller explores the artistic potential of smartphone-based music connected to the environment of its locale. This connection is inspirational, logistic, and literal.

The music of SonAR Study I is composed of 11 different audio tracks. Each track is inspired by the actual ambient sound(s) that dominate various locations on the St. Cloud State University campus. These sounds were identified and selected by conducting soundwalks, documenting what I heard and what my ear was drawn to. In response to these soundwalks, I created synthesized sound tracks (with the exception of the piano track, recorded in the Performing Arts Center Ruth Gant Recital Hall).

The smartphone version is experienced by downloading an app, which includes a map displaying the listener’s physical position on the campus during playback. Each track plays back from virtual speakers located in different campus locations, generally corresponding to the source of the individual inspirational sounds. As the listener navigates campus, GPS tracking compares the phone location relative to the virtual speaker locations. The 11 audio track levels are adjusted based on the listener’s proximity to the virtual sound sources, changing the “mix” of the tracks. Some locations on campus will completely obscure the presence of some tracks. Different paths through campus will produce unique musical experiences with the same audio tracks. This recording is one possible realization of the piece.

Transcendental Assembly (2016-2018)
Matthew Greenbaum

Transcendental Assembly (2016-2018) is an electronic work for fixed media. It is derived from an earlier chamber work, a setting of a Ralph Waldo Emerson text, Wild Rose, Lily, Dry Vanilla for soprano and five instruments. The older work is treated as an abstract sound source from which Transcendental Assembly was made. The source material was reworked and distorted to create the sense of a choral work in which the voices are made of instrumental as well as vocal timbres. The title refers to the Transcendentalist Emerson, as well as the “assembly” of the derived sound material.

Quarter Tone Fantasy (2018)
Hubert Howe

Like my other inharmonic fantasies, this work consists of tones with different components that fade in and out over the course of the duration. In this work, however, all the components are quarter tones, or notes that are squeezed between the half steps of the 12-tone tempered scale. The background structure of the piece is based on tempered pitches and can be perceived on the entrances of the notes. The components both fade in and out or are attacked individually. The piece was synthesized using the program Csound.

Album 2

White Heron Dance (2017)
Alice Shields

The original White Heron Dance (Sa-gi Mai) is a 600-year-old Shinto rite held at Yasaka Shrine in Japan, in which dancers dressed as white herons perform an elegant dance as a prayer for good harvests and health. The Noh Theater performer Mayo Miwa with whom I study the music and chant of Noh, suggested this Shinto ritual to me.

I created my White Heron Dance to be a ritual in sound in which a human being experiences a moment of union with nature in the form of a Great White Heron. In the piece you can hear Mayo’s electronically transformed voice singing the ritual song in simple folk style, and then in elaborate Noh recitational style. The words mean: “Something landed on the bridge --- it’s a bird. ---Which bird? Oh, it’s a heron. ---Yes, it’s a heron, a heron crossed the bridge. The bird is wet with gentle rain. Yes, it’s a heron, a heron crossed the bridge.”

There are four sections in the piece: Entrance, Song, Union and Exit. The Entrance music gradually builds in intensity over 5 minutes; then we hear the heron’s raucous voice. The soft, gentle Song follows, inviting the heron to communicate. The tension heightens into the Union, and we are for a moment overwhelmed by the sounds of nature – herons, hawks, eagles, songbirds, frogs, crickets. Then the heron flies away, the sounds of nature disappear, and the Exit takes us back where we came from.

In the piece I use ProTools and GRM Tools plug-ins, some Csound, and samples of natural sounds. The Heron samples come from Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; the eagles, song thrushes and wing flaps from Freesound.org.

Recollections of Gifts (2018)
Burton Beerman

Recollections of Gifts is a digital fixed media composition that draws some of its source material from live performances of Gifts an original composition for violin piano and dance ensemble. Recollections of Gifts exists as an acoustic memory of Gifts and it quickly interweaves to another dream-like world of suggestive memories of the violin and piano then reverts to its original source material. Much of it is digitally modified but some is presented as unprocessed fragments, keeping true to its organic form. The open musical structure of Gifts was influenced by the music of John Cage, whose open-form and improvisation were guided by arbitrary aides such as I-Ching. In the case of Gifts, the choices are given by the composer. Rather than avoiding compositional decisions, a range of choices is given to infuse the performance with a sense of an innate organic spontaneity. Recollections of Gifts is not bound by order or content but has only one arrangement since it is digital fixed media and is intended to be available as digital fixed media.

Interactions (2018)
Mark Thome

My idea for Interactions was to assemble sounds recorded on my iPhone into a composition. For the piano sounds, I sat at the piano and played random notes, chords, and short phrases. The remaining sounds were from objects inside and outside my home as well as the surrounding neighborhood. I wanted to search for sounds with no preconceived idea about the theme or overall goal at first. After gathering sounds for a few weeks, I examined each sound and edited out all unusable parts. I was then left with a palette from which to begin creating my composition. No digital effects were used to manipulate the sounds except for volume and panning. Digital software was used to isolate the portions of each sound incorporated in the composition.

Private Practice (2017)
Joel Gressel

Aside from all technical and theoretical pursuits, most importantly, the computer allows me to play my own music. Settling on a final performance seems very much like practicing pieces on the piano used to be: How should phrases be shaped? Which voices should be brought out? How fast should the music go? For the last four decades I have been playing with three primary tools, two of which can only be done with computers: 1) Shaping melodies, on the beat and measure level, with an interrelated set of ratios; and playing them, often overlapped, at different speeds. 2) Using twelve-tone sets that order and reorder three ascending diminished-seventh cycles rather the chromatic scale. Transpositions of themes are more like cousins to one-another than siblings. 3) Generating sounds by pure mathematical processes, many of which produce a wide range of timbres.

For its first few minutes Private Practice works with a number of themes with increasing complexity and intensity. It then settles into what seems an inescapable trance, only to be interrupted, Surprise Symphony – like, by a return to the beginning material, and then proceeding to a close.

Almost an Island (2018)
John Gibson

Almost an Island is the product of my visit to a wooded peninsula at a nearby lake. An early spring morning, the wind was up and driving small waves into the sandy shore at the tip of the peninsula. Such furious action, but somehow it sounded only in miniature and failed to disrupt the calm of the scene. The piece represents these small, but vigorous, waves in an imaginary close-up view, colored with superimposed harmonies. This vision clears briefly in the middle to reveal the natural soundscape.

All audio comes from the recorded water, even when explicit water sounds are absent. Instead, spectral audio analysis of the water yields streams of notes that mimic the dynamic shape of the waves.

“Electronic Miniature” (2014)
Arthur Kreiger

“Electronic Miniature” had its origins in a small collection of exercises designed to demonstrate various electronic music possibilities to students who were encouraged to explore audio suite plug-ins in my Electroacoustic Music course.
The emerging composition became a brief study in musical contrasts: pitch vs. noise, soft vs. loud, tune vs. chords, simple sine waves vs. layers of timbral complexity, sustained lines vs. rapid rhythmic interjections, agitation vs. calm, violence vs. peace. The work was realized at the Cummings Electronic and Digital Sound Studio at Connecticut College where it was completed in January of 2014. “Electronic Miniature” received its premiere performance in late February of that year at the 14th Biennial Symposium on Arts and Technology at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut.

Fanfare Mix Transpose (1968)
Harvey Sollberger

Fanfare Mix Transpose is part of the music I composed for a New York City production of Sophocles' "Antigone." It was composed in 1967 and 1968 by means of the "classical" cut and splice method, the work being done in the studios of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. I haven't composed a bit of electronic music since then but am planning a new work for 2019 that will incorporate recorded and electroacoustic sounds.

Thank you for listening. For any licensing inquiries please contact American Composers Alliance, New York City. All Rights Reserved.



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