The Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States: Music from SEAMUS, vol. 4

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Music from SEAMUS, vol. 4 continues the organization's series of recordings chronicling the work of its member composers. Featuring music from this 1994 edition by Jon Christopher Nelson, Mark Edward Gibbons, Eric David Chasalow, Judy Klein, Tom Flaherty, Howard Jonathan Frederics, and Daniel Weymouth, this recording affords listeners of the SEAMUS series an opportunity to hear how this dynamic sub-genre in our field has developed and what parameters have remained consistent over the last few decades.

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Jon Christopher Nelson’s Six études brèves (1990) explores individual instrumental and electronics techniques and how they shape a dynamic relationship between the two. The first etude, “Rafale,” is based on a jittery, stuttering motive that provides the framework for sinewy, connecting sustained tones. “Comédie” lives up to its name with the cello scrambling to respond to quirky, off-kilter spacialized sounds in the tape. “Contrefaçon” and “Réverie” provide the most inward music of the set, and the atmospheric harmonies in the tape part occasionally become animated and assume a life of their own. In the short “Juxtaposition,” anxious pizzicati, Bartok pizzicati, jeté effects in the cello make their way into the electronic accompaniment before a poignant melody soars over the top. “Fantasie” closes the set with vigor and virtuosity, as propulsive figures in the cello are imitated and sparred with in the tape part.

Mark Edward Gibbons’ scrub-reverse (1992) for amplified violin, interactive electronics, and tape manipulates sampled material with progressive time expansion and DSP routines. The violin part is subsequently altered with MIDI foot pedals and Lexicon effects. It begins with an unsettling, ambient halo, with short fragments of quixotic text and restless violin figurations. Midway through the piece, the atmosphere is briefly interrupted with a torrent of dry, staccato sounds before it recedes back to the sonic bog of the opening.

Eric Chasalow’s Over the Edge (1986) for flute and electronics uses the tape part to expand the acoustic properties of the instrument. Written in a fast-slow-fast form, Chasalow’s flute writing in the outer sections is angular and syncopated, a fleet vocabulary that references bebop and bluegrass. The contrasting middle section features long limbed lines over a broken chorale of bell sounds in the tape. The return of the lively music at the end features more developed and intertwined dialogue between instrument and tape, culminating in a brief recollection of the tintinnabulation of the slower section before sly syncopated material closes the piece.

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Judy Klein’s Elements 1:1, sulphur, phosphorus, diamond (1992-93) is a composition for tape alone inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Golden Pot. Hoffmann’s tale recounts a young man’s troubling spiritual journey into a mystical realm, marked by existential struggle and longing. Kline divides the work into three sections — sulphur, phosphorus, and the diamond crystal — representing elemental materials that shape the protagonist’s experience. The music is sparse and delicate, as whistling sounds and subtly refracted tolling bells invite the listener inside the character’s reflective search.

Tom Flaherty’s Trio for Cello and Digital Processor relies on two delay signals of the source signal from an acoustic cello. The result is a “trio” where the cello sound is sent to the left and right speakers with a half-second and second long delay. Within these constraints, Flaherty cleverly explores various different textures and tempi that trigger the delays in different ways. A contemplative, sustained section requires smooth bow changes to avoid triggering discrete rhythmic events in the delay patches.

The sounds in Howard Jonathan Fredrics’ The Raven’s Kiss are entirely generated from processing the composer reading the Charles Bukowski poem, all I know. Fredrics fragments the recorded reading, using phase vocoding and convulsion filtering to bring the text alive into an otherworldly landscape of electronic sound.

Daniel Weymouth’s Another Violin builds freedom into both the live and electronic parts of the work. The electronics are generated in real time by the soloist, exploding the instrument’s acoustic sound into a hyper-violin that bounces off reflective walls as if in a house of mirrors. The score itself is written in a variable form — paths are chosen by the performer and some sections leave room open for improvisation. The result is an exuberant and quixotic piece, an expression pushing past its restraints.

– Dan Lippel

Produced by SEAMUS

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

Graphic design: David Colley

Jon Christopher Nelson

Jon Christopher Nelson (b. 1960) is currently a Professor of Composition at the University of North Texas where he is an associate of CEMI (Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia). Nelson’s electroacoustic music compositions have been performed widely throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He has been honored with numerous awards including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright Commission. He is the recipient of Luigi Russolo (1995), Bourges Prizes (1996, 1997, 1999, 2002 and the Euphonies d'Or prize in 2004) and the International Computer Music Association's Americas Regional Award (2012) and Music Award (2020). In addition to his electro-acoustic works, Nelson has composed a variety of acoustic compositions that have been performed by ensembles such as the New World Symphony, the Memphis Symphony, the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, ALEA III, and others.

Mark Edward Gibbons

Music by Brooklyn based-composer Mark Gibbons is widely performed throughout the United States and Europe in settings such as Alice Tully Hall and the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Posthorn Kerk in Amsterdam, and the annual SEAMUS conference. Recent commissions have come from the violinist Lydia Forbes through the Tera de Marez Oyens Foundation in The Netherlands, percussionist Danny Tunick, and clarinetist Michael Lowenstern. Awards include the National Orchestral Association Orchestral Reading Fellowship and the Ackerman prize. He also directs 5 rooms company, a production company that operates on an as-needed basis to put on concerts of less-performed and/or recently completed music in the New York area. Mark studied composition with Milton Babbitt, David Diamond, John Lessard, and Daniel Weymouth. He holds a Ph.D in composition from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and a M.M. in composition from the Julliard School. His music is recorded for the SEAMUS and New World labels.

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.

Judy Klein

Judy Klein was born in Chicago, Illinois, and later moved with her family to Los Angeles, California. She studied music at the University of California, Berkeley, and continued her studies at the Conservatory of Music in Basel, Switzerland. She graduated with a Master of Arts degree from New York University, after studying with Thomas Kessler, Reynold Weidenaar, Lilli Friedemann and Ruth Anderson. She continued her studies in computer generated music at the Brooklyn College Center for Computer Music with Charles Dodge, and also worked at the center as a guest composer. After completing her studies, Klein taught computer music and composition at New York University and founded a computer music studio there. Her music is recorded on ICMA, SEAMUS, Cuneiform and Open Space compact discs.

Tom Flaherty

Tom Flaherty is a composer and cellist who works with music for humans and electronics. He earned degrees at Brandeis University, S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook, and the University of Southern California, where he studied with Martin Boykan, Bülent Arel, and Frederick Lesemann and cello with Timothy Eddy and Bernard Greenhouse.

His composition has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Music Center, the Pasadena Arts Council, the Massachusetts Council for the Arts and Humanities, the Delius Society, the University of Southern California, "Meet the Composer," and Yaddo. His music has been performed throughout Europe and North America by such new music ensembles as Dinosaur Annex in Boston, Speculum Musicae and Odyssey Chamber Players in New York, Earplay and Volti in San Francisco, Concorde in Dublin (Ireland), Gallery Players in Toronto (Canada), Mojave Trio, XTET and Brightwork New Music in Los Angeles; and by such performers as soprano Lucy Shelton; cellists Maggie Parkins and Roger Lebow; violinists Sarah Thornblade and Rachel Huang; organist William Peterson, and pianists Genevieve Feiwen Lee, Nadia Shpachenko, Vicki Ray, Aron Kallay, and Karl and Margaret Kohn. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc. and American Composers Editions, his compositions have been recorded on the Albany, Bridge, Capstone, Klavier, Reference, and SEAMUS labels.

Howard Jonathan Fredrics

Howard Jonathan Fredrics is an American composer of mostly orchestral, chamber and electroacoustic works that have been performed in Europe and North America. Mr. Fredrics studied composition with Randolph Coleman, Richard Hoffmann and Joseph Wood and electronic music with Conrad Cummings and Gary Lee Nelson at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and graduated with a BMus in composition in 1985. He then studied composition with Donald Grantham, Karl Korte and Russell Pinkston at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned his MMus in 1991 and his DMA in 1998. He also studied at the Elektronmusikstudion in Stockholm and composition with William Brunson at the Kungliga Musikhögskolan – Royal College of Music in Stockholm, both in 1992–93, as well as composition with Mario Davidovsky at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida in 1995. Among his honours are the ASCAP Young Composers Award (1982), the ASCAP Special Award annually since 1992, an Emmy Award (1993), the Prix du Jury in the Concours International de Musique Électroacoustique de Bourges (1993), an award from the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (1994), and a Telly Award (1994). He later received the Musica Nova Special Prize (1995), Third Prize in the competition of the Tampa Bay Composers Forum (1995) and the Premio della giuria in the competition Luigi Russolo in Varese (1998). He taught at the University of Texas at Austin in 1988–89 and in 1993–94, at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1991–92, where he also taught summer sessions from 1986–91, at the Austin Community College District in 1995–96, at Western Carolina University in North Carolina in 1996–97, and at Brown University from 1997–99. He has taught as Assistant Professor of Composition, Theory and Music Technology at Texas A&M University since 1999. In addition, he has given lectures in Finland and Sweden.

Daniel Weymouth

Composer/conductor Daniel Weymouth writes for a wide array of ensembles, from standard orchestra to computer-interactive instruments. He has studied and worked at several of the world's leading computer-music facilities, including Stanford's CCRMA, Pierre Boulez's IRCAM and Iannis Xenakis' CEMAMu (both in Paris). His compositions have been performed throughout Europe, Canada and the United States and appear on the SEAMUS and New World Record labels as well as MIT Press (sound and programming excerpted on CD-ROM). Commissions have come from numerous ensembles and individual performers; grants from Meet the Composer and ASCAP. Weymouth is a current member of the Stony Brook Academy of Scholar Teachers. A ten-year stint as an itinerant musician in popular genres may have something to do with his fascination with gadgets, as well as the kinetic and compact nature of much of his music, both acoustic and electronic. At Stony Brook, he has been Graduate Director, Chair and Director of Computer Music; he is now Director of cDACT, an interdepartmental consortium generating cross-disciplinary research, art, scholarship and curriculum.

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