The Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States: Music from SEAMUS, vol. 3


SEAMUS (Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States) continues its project of releasing its extensive back catalogue of recordings, including Volume 3 which features works by Scott A. Wyatt, Larry Nelson, Joseph Koykkar, Joseph L. Anderson, Charles Norman Mason, Stephen David Beck, Eric David Chasalow, and Paul Koonce.


Larry Nelson’s Order and Alliance for piano and tape, performed by Barry Hannigan, merges electronic sounds generated by computer controlled synthesizers with a rhythmically taut and vigorous live keyboard part. The tape part alternates between pointed gestures in dialogue with the punctuated figures in the piano and passages that diversify the timbral and sonic language of the piece. Buoyant exuberance is contrasted with wistful lyricism in this playfully complex work.

Opening with a quick, dramatically panned “whoosh,” Scott Wyatt’s Counterpoints builds multiple linear voices between the soprano saxophone, tape, and live electronics that interlock in various ways. Trills, rapid scalar passages, and fluid melodic lines in the sax are mirrored prismatically in the live electronics, as the tape provides contrapuntal accompaniment. A more static middle section explores a haunting sax line, harmonized by the live electronics, and enhanced by ethereal swells in the tape. A trill serves as the transitional link back to the dynamic material of the opening and builds to a powerful climax, before a closing coda evokes the echoes of the middle section.

Joseph Koykkar’s Triple Play, as per its title, employs three keyboards: the concert piano, a sampled piano sound tuned in eighth tone tuning, and a MIDI piano controlled by a computer. The result is akin to the mechanistic sound of a player piano, with the added warmth of the performed concert piano part. Triple Play opens with a moto perpetuo figure in octaves, jumping from register to register, before bluesy interjections begin to break up the established pattern. At times the eighth tone tuned sampler sounds like insects running along the strings inside the piano. A pop inflected progression unfolds over a pedal point in the middle section, more sparse but still locked into the same steady groove established from the opening of the piece.

Joseph L. Anderson’s in mosaic uses granular synthesis to manipulate a recording of a short text by one male speaker into a collage of voices, timbres, and drones. Layered chants contrast with urgent utterances in a mixture between meditative and anxious elements. As the piece evolves, Anderson explores discontinuous gestures composed of fragments of the material from the denser opening, deconstructing the text into small spurts of language that echo in an unsettling sound world.

The Blazing Macaw for piano and tape, by Charles Norman Mason, explores what he calls “human time and machine time,” intentionally examining the tension that arises as the performer comes closer to matching the timing and feel in the tape part. The macaw also refers to the parroting that is so often integral to closely coordinated electro-acoustic work. Syncopated figures fit together like cogs in a well oiled mechanism, as Mason shifts around a series of characteristic gestures, between piano and tape, within the meter, and to different pitch levels and registers.

In his Love’s Not Time’s Fool, Stephen David Beck explores the interdependence between humans and technology by constructing a relationship between a virtual instrument and computer generated processing. A structured improvised part for “wind controller” triggers synchronized and delayed material that becomes less tethered to the performed material as the piece evolves. The result is a sort of disembodied courtly dance, as inextricably linked partners drift from each other before they reassert their dependence on one another.

Eric Chasalow’s Fast Forward for two percussionists and tape exists in a continuum of Davidovskian electro-acoustic works wherein the tape part both augments and is in dialogue with the live instruments. The percolating marimba part is enhanced by tape gestures that quickly crescendo; the unpitched percussion punctuates phrases and lands in synchronicity with the jagged rhythms of the tape. Chasalow writes out quasi-rubati passages by varying the subdivisions of the pulse, creating a music that ebbs and flows with a mysterious internal logic and energy.

The final work on the collection, Paul Koonce’s Whitewash, is the only electronics alone piece on the album. Created using the CMUSIC sound synthesis language, Koonce introduces three primary sounds at the beginning of the work: two piano tones, one high and one low, and a third chordal sound, generated by granular synthesis. The “whitewash” of the title happens gradually, as the three sounds are manipulated and fused with each other to strip them of their initial identities and create new textures.

- Dan Lippel

Produced by SEAMUS

Remastered by Scott A. Wyatt at the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios

Graphic Design: David Colley

Larry Nelson

Larry Nelson is on the faculty at West Chester University School of Music, where he is Professor of Composition, Director of the Center for Music Technology, and Co-Director of the Concerts of New Music concert series. He has recently completed Terpsichore, a composition for solo percussionist and interactive computer, Greeley Songs, a set of songs for mezzo-soprano and double bass, AuraMotion, for wind controller and interactive electronic sounds, and In Silence, In Memory, for piano and chamber orchestra. Nelson has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Meet the Composer, and fellowships from the Norlin Foundation and the MacDowell Colony. His music is published by Carl Fischer and recorded on the CRI label.

Debra Richtmeyer

Debra Richtmeyer has performed as saxophone soloist in the United States, Canada, Europe and Mexico, and was a medal winner in the 1978 World Saxophone Competition in Gap, France. Ms. Richtmeyer has performed and recorded as featured soloist with such ensembles as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the U.S. Navy Band with RCA, Pro Arte, Reference, CPI, DBH and Educational Records, She is Associate Professor of Saxophone at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is Second Vice President of the North American Saxophone Alliance.

Scott A. Wyatt

Scott A. Wyatt, composer and Professor of Composition, is also the Director of the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios. His compositions include works for voice, acoustic instruments, electronically-synthesized sound, and computer-generated sound for various applications from theater and dance, to radio, television, film, and indoor/outdoor laser presentations. Among numerous awards which he has received, Scott Wyatt was the winner of the 1984 International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music Grand Prize, the 1984 Concorso Internazionale Luigi Russolo Competition, a 1986 University Scholar Award, a 1989 finalist in the International Electro-Acoustic Music Competition in Bourges, several artist fellowships, and a 1990 Arnold Beckman Research Award for the development of digital timescaling applications in music composition. His compositions are available on CENTAUR, Library of Congress, MARK, OFFICE, and VERIATZA Records. He currently serves as President of SEAMUS.

Todd Welbourne

Todd Welbourne, Professor of Piano at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is an active recitalist and chamber musician with appearances in this country as well as in Europe. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the "Studio de Musique Contemporaine" (1977-78, Geneva) and holds a doctorate in piano performance from the University of Iowa where he was the pianist for the Center for New Music.

Joseph L. Anderson

Joseph L. Anderson is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. His works have been performed on both sides of the Atlantic at various electro-acoustic and new music festivals. His composition teachers have included Russell Pinkstone, Karl Korte, and Dan Welcher. At this time he plans to continue his studies with Denis Smalley at City University in London. During the 1993 SEAMUS national conference, he was recognized with the "Board of Directors' Award of Recognition" given to a young composer having displayed significant compositional talent.

Thomas Bagwell

Thomas Bagwell, a native of Alabama, graduated from the Mannes College of Music where he studied with Stephanie Brown, Arthur Balsam, and Robert McDonald. A performer equally adept at solo, chamber music, and vocal accompanying, Mr. Bagwell has been the recipient of many awards including a Fulbright Grant, First Prize in the 1994 Five Towns Music and Art Foundation Competition, and First Prize in the 1992 Olga Koussenzky Competition.

Charles Norman Mason

Composer Charles Norman Mason is chairman of the music department at Birmingham-Southern College and is Managing Editor of the international journal, LIVING MUSIC. His compositions have received several awards including an NEA Composers Grant, a Broadcast Music Inc. Award for Young Composers for his wind ensemble piece SHIFTINGS, First Prize in the Panoply of the Arts Competition for THREE HOPKINS SONGS, First Prixe in the City Stages Classical Music competition for THE CAGED SKYLARK and his tape piece SOME FIND ME was a finalist in the International Bourges Electroacoustic Composition Competition and was featured in an article by Barney Childs in THE CONTEMPORARY MUSIC REVIEW.

Griffin Campbell

As a recitalist and lecturer on the performance of new music, Griffin Campbell has appeared throughout the southern and central United States and in Japan. Recent performances include appearances at the national conferences of the Society of Composers, Inc., and the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, He has received grants from the Louisiana Foundation for the Arts and from LSU. Campbell is featured in a performance of Paul Hayden's Cherubs on the Ceiling with the Valcour String Quartet on the Centaur compact disc release, "Elegy for Mossland." He is an Associate Professor with the Louisiana State University School of Music.

Stephen David Beck

Stephen David Beck teaches at LSU where he is an Associate Professor of Composition and Director of the Electro-Acoustic Music Studio. He holds a Ph.D. in music composition and theory from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was a student of Henri Lazarof, Elaine Barkin, and Alden Ashforth. His music has been performed throughout the world, including performances at Weill Recital Hall, Sao Paolo Bienal '91, SCREAM '93 Radio Series, New Music America, World Harp Congress, and on the Triforium Series in Los Angeles. His music and research involving "virtual musical instruments" has been presented at meetings of the International Computer Music Conference and the SEAMUS National Conference.

Arthur Jarvinen

Arthur Jarvinen, percussionist, is an active composer, multi-instrumentalist, and physical poet. He is a member of the California E.A.R. Unit, has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, and with Steve Reich, and has worked on several projects for Frank Zappa.

Amy Knoles

Amy Knoles, percussionist, performs regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Cyber Arts Festival, and the Ojai Festival. She also performs interactive computer music as a soloist and with Morton Subotnick, Tod Machover, Basso Bongo, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, and the California F.A.R. Unit.

Eric David Chasalow

Eric David Chasalow is Assistant Professor of Composition at Brandeis University and Director of the Brandeis Electro-Acoustic Music Studio (BEAMS). He was formerly Executive Director of the Guild of Composers, for whom he produced several seasons of concerts in New York City and a nationally distributed radio series called "Composers in Concert" He also has served as Executive Director of Music Alliance, an organization dedicated to improving the climate for the art of music in America through education programs. Mr. Chasalow received his D.M.A. from Columbia University where his principle teacher was Mario Davidovsky and where he studied flute with Harvey Sollberger, Mr. Chasalow has been awarded prizes and fellowships by, among others, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Paul Koonce

Paul Koonce received his M.M. in composition from the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. in Music from the University of California, San Diego. He has produced compositions in the electronic, computer and acoustic media which have been performed by the SONOR Contemporary Music Ensemble and the Diverse Arts Ensemble of Chicago. His music has been presented in the International Festival of Computer Music, Japan; the Roulette Music Series; the Darmstadt Festival for New Music, Germany; the Logos Foundation, Belgium; the Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland; and New Music America, Montreal. He has received awards and commissions from the Luigi Russolo International Competition for Composers of Electronic Music, the National Flute Association, Prix Ars Electronica Electronic Arts Competition and is the recipient of a McKnight Foundation fellowship.

Joseph Koykkar

Joseph Koykkar, is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is a member of the Interarts and Technology faculty and music director for the Dance Program. His music has been performed throughout the United States and in Europe and South America by leading new music ensembles, orchestras, and chamber ensembles. Among his honors are awards from ASCAP, the Wisconsin Arts Board Individual Artist Award, and grants from the American Music Center and Meet the Composer. His discography includes a 1992 release on Northeastern Records EXPRESSED IN UNITS featuring six compositions and a 1994 release of an orchestral composition, COMPOSITE, on the CD "Robert Black Conducts" produced by MMC Recordings.



An Earful

Various Artists - Music From SEAMUS, Vol. 3 and Vol. 23 These archival releases from the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States are consistently fascinating, whether it's the mutating piano on Larry Nelson's Order And Alliance (1991) from the first or Chester Udell's assemblage of metallic and white noises on Steel Golem (2011-12) from the second. And how cool to see Switch~Ensemble crop up here, in a recording of Christopher Chandler's Smoke And Mirrors from 2013, a gorgeous miniature of enhanced chamber music.

— Jeremy Shatan, 1.02.2021

Related Albums