Jeffrey Hass | Signals:  Instrumental and Electroacoustic Music of Jeffrey Hass

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Signals: Instrumental and Electroacoustic Music of Jeffrey Hass

by Jeffrey Hass

New music for wind ensemble, chamber group, piano, electronics, and violin. An IUMusic-Composers series production from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Concerto for Amplified Piano and Wind Ensemble: I. Signals
IU Wind Ensemble, Paul Barnes & Ray Cramer
5:06 $0.99
2. Concerto for Amplified Piano and Wind Ensemble: II. Remembrance
IU Wind Ensemble, Paul Barnes & Ray Cramer
4:17 $0.99
3. Concerto for Amplified Piano and Wind Ensemble: III. Running With Scissors
IU Wind Ensemble, Paul Barnes & Ray Cramer
4:45 $0.99
4. Keyed Up: I. Gadget
Paul Barnes & Ann Chang-Barnes
6:34 $0.99
5. Keyed Up: II. Early Reflections
Paul Barnes & Ann Chang-Barnes
10:00 $0.99
6. Keyed Up: III. Loose Canons
Paul Barnes & Ann Chang-Barnes
4:12 $0.99
7. Lost in the Funhouse: I. Cheap Trills
IU Wind Ensemble & Ray Cramer
3:40 $0.99
8. Lost in the Funhouse: II. Upon Reflection
IU Wind Ensemble & Ray Cramer
5:23 $0.99
9. Lost in the Funhouse: III. Lost in the Funhouse
IU Wind Ensemble & Ray Cramer
4:38 $0.99
10. Fantasy for Violin and Piano
Lina Bahn & Paul Barnes
11:19 $0.99
11. City Life
IU New Music Ensemble & Akira Mori
9:26 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

1 Concerto for Amplified Piano and Wind Ensemble - Signals

I must confess a certain fondness for the epic score of Richard Rodgers and the arrangements of Robert Russell Bennett for the 1952 documentary Victory at Sea. The series depicts the naval action of World War II, frequently through silent black-and-white footage, which required the scoring not only to evoke the drama of combat and but also to provide a musical post-production of sound effects. My most lasting memory of the music was the quasi-synchronization of high winds and percussion to the flashing semaphore lights between ships, often shot in a panoramic view, capturing many such signals in counterpoint. The rhythmic scoring of these messages, which would become the archetypal code accompaniment for film composers over the next forty years, suggested itself to me as a model for a complete concerto movement—a mode of communication between the soloist and various groups in the ensemble, and ultimately the listener. The movement opens with both trumpet and xylophone soli marked quasi Morse Code, a style indication that runs throughout. While I have always had a fascination with code, be it Morse or computer programming, I can assure the listener that no intentional secret messages are embedded, tempting as it was at the time of composition. The attentive listener may, however, hear signals from the past, such as a famous horn call, stealing into the musical fabric.

2 Concerto for Amplified Piano and Wind Ensemble - Remembrance

This movement took shape in the months following the death of my father. It reflects my discovery as time went by that, with each recollection, memories of our time together were stripped of their unimportant detail. The movement is characterized by simplicity and repetition, on both a large and a small scale: the opening wind chorale, anchored by pedal tones at the very bottom of the tuba range, is answered by a simple canon in the piano where the imitative voices move at varying relative speeds; and chorale and responses reappear in slightly different guises with each iteration.

3 Concerto for Amplified Piano and Wind Ensemble - Running with Scissors

Titled for the precarious metric and rhythmic mesh that holds it together, the movement begins attacca (without pause) after the preceding one. The scherzo-like figurations of both soloist and ensemble constantly pull at one another, creating a tension between duple and triple meters that alternate frequently. True to the title as well are various taunting gestures in the brass and woodwinds. The several cadenzas of the piano and the demand for virtuosic effort from all instruments certainly put the musical progression on treacherous footing—but as most children have discovered, it is much more fun to run with scissors than to walk!

4 Keyed Up - Gadget (1996)

This work was composed for duo pianists Paul and Ann Barnes with funding from an Indiana University Fellowship grant. The tape portion, created at the University’s Center for Electronic and Computer Music, utilizes sampled piano sounds modified with current digital processing techniques, as well as a host of other sounds adapted from the Center’s extensive library. My approach to the challenge of combining acoustic and electronic media was to shape the interaction as a double concerto, the electronics providing a broad canvas against which the expressive and technical brilliance of the pianos could shine. The central movement of the work is without tape, designed to stand alone for performances where electronic playback is not available. Keyed Up received the 1996 Lee Ettelson Composer’s Award

Gadget was inspired by the arrival at my home of a package containing a mysterious toy, consisting of hundreds of parts but no directions. As my four-year-old waited impatiently for me to construct the toy, it soon began to take on a life of its own, no doubt due to incorrect assemblage, finally self-destructing into the original heap of parts. The tape portion of the movement uses a wide range of modified piano sounds, as well as other timbres suggestive of the subject.

5 Keyed Up - Early Reflections (1996)

For two pianos alone, this movement borrows its title from an acoustical term referring to the first sound waves that bounce back from a wall, a concept expressed in the movement’s arch form (ABCBA) and the pervasive use of inversion and double invertible counterpoint. The sections are related in their use of a progression of intervallic sixths, but each takes a distinctive stylistic approach, from pastoral to ragtime with an attitude. As the title suggests, the musical material derives from a composition written early in my career.

6 Keyed Up - Loose Canons (1996)

Not surprisingly, this piece is loosely canonic—as well as potentially explosive. In many ways, its figuration pays homage to the great two-piano composers of the past, including Rachmaninov and Bartok. It is here that the pianists, as well as the electronic “performer,” get to demonstrate their virtuosity in a scherzo-like flurry of musical interaction.

7 Lost in the Funhouse - Cheap Trills (1996)

Lost in the Funhouse was completed with a commission from Indiana University,celebrating the school's 175th anniversary, and is dedicated to Professor Ray Cramer and the Indiana University Symphonic Band. The title comes from a collection of short stories by John Barth, where the funhouse provides a metaphor for life. Growing up along the New York-New Jersey shore, I experienced some of the great literal funhouses dotting the beaches' many amusement parks. Lost in the Funhouse is full of extramusical allusions to these remembered thrills: the first movement suggests the attraction's entrance, complete with pounding heartbeats and sudden slides down trick steps manipulated by some unseen hand; the second movement, a series of variations on a chorale, distorts musical statements much like “funny mirrors” do reflections. Listeners can recall their own funhouse experiences in the last movement. Lost in the Funhouse received first prize in the 1994 National Band Association/Revelli Composition Competition, and also garnered the 1995 Walter Beeler Memorial Award.

While gathering the musical materials for the first movement, I had a conversation with a composer friend who admitted an unnatural dislike for Mozart’s
cadential trills. Perversely perhaps, I was inspired to go a step beyond Mozart and base entire melodies on this common musical figure. “Cheap Trills,” therefore, revolves around an alternation between oscillating whole- and half-steps (not unlike the uneven steps of a funhouse).

8 Lost in the Funhouse - Upon Reflection

Upon Reflection features introductory solos from the oboe and piccolo followed by a chorale, which proceeds through several rhythmic and harmonic variations before returning to and extending the original statement.

9 Lost in the Funhouse - Lost in the Funhouse

The final movement develops the close-knit figures of “Cheap Trills” into expanding wedges and open harmonies. There is a high-energy exchange between the musicians and the electronic tape, particularly showcasing the percussion. The electronic portion of this multi-movement piece, which was realized at the Indiana University Center for Electronic and Computer Music, plays an equal, not dominant, role in the ensemble; it expands the timbral and rhythmic palette of the band without eclipsing the brass, woodwind, or percussion sections. All in all, the true funhouse for me turns out to be the modern computer music studio, where, in the midst of remarkable technology, almost anything acoustically possible can—and sometimes does—happen.

10 Fantasy for Violin and Piano (1991)

Fantasy for Violin and Piano was written for the 1991 New Music Festival at Washington State University and is dedicated to fellow composer Charles Argersinger. From the start, the work sets out in cadenza-like fashion, making equal technical demands on both players. Though quite traditional in its use of arch form, sectional¬ization, and tempo, it exploits many contemporary techniques: players are asked to coordinate unusual rhythmic patterns, to color lyrical lines with rapidly repeated notes and tremolos, and to make sudden changes in mood.

11 City Life (1990)

City Life (1990), written for the Indiana University School of Music, is a lighthearted fantasy of a happily displaced New Yorker—its architecture, instrumentation and often frenetic tempi all suggested by the contemporary urban scene. The piece was, in fact, conceived as an “update” to Aaron Copland’s Quiet City, and concludes with a not-so-quiet drive-by shooting. The musical design is sectional, the short blocks or “neighborhoods” often related in underlying material and pulse, but each having a unique character drawn from a range of urban musical styles: jazz, featuring muted brass solos, piano, percussion and amplified bass; “downtown” minimalism, reflected by pervasive ostinati (short, repeated patterns); and “uptown” pointillism. The work is scored in thirteen parts (for either chamber orchestra or single strings), combining woodwind trio, brass trio, string quintet, piano and percussion. Each fami¬ly of instruments plays in blocks of sound, often in opposition with other groups, and individual instruments rarely venture out alone. A notable exception is a violin solo in a slow section marked “molto rubato—with drunken abandon,” evoking a street musician with vapor trails of some unidentified fortified wine. The demanding pas-sage-work, wide instrumental ranges, and fast tempi require virtuosity from all players. City Life won the national composers’ competition of the Concordia Chamber Orchestra in 1991.


Jeffrey Hass composes music for electronics combined with large and small acoustic ensembles, video and dance. His current work involves design of interactive wireless sensor systems for performers and dancers. His music, dance and video works have been premiered at International Computer Music Conferences, SEAMUS, Australasian Computer Music Conference, Pixilerations, Spark Festival, American College Dance Festival, the World Dance Alliance and many more. He has also delivered papers at the New Interfaces in Musical Expression Conference, Toronto Electroacoustic Conference and several dance festivals.

Awards include ASCAP/Rudolph Nissim Award, National Band Association Competition, Walter Beeler Memorial Award, Lee Ettelson Composer's Award, United States Army Band's Composition Award, Heckscher Orchestral Award, Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship and the Utah Arts Festival Orchestral Commissioning Award. Recordings of his works have been released by the Indiana University Press, SEAMUS, Arizona University Recordings, Albany Records and RIAX Records. His works are published by Magnetic Resonance Music, Ludwig Music Company and MMB Music Publishers.

Hass is a Fellow at the Indiana University Digital Arts and Humanities Institute. He is a former composition and theory instructor at Rutgers University and Interlochen Center for the Arts.



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