The Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States: Music from SEAMUS Volume 24

About

SEAMUS (Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States) releases the next in its series of back catalogue and new compilations by its composer members. Volume 24 includes music by Scott L. Miller, Ted Coffey, Nina C. Young, Joo Won Park, Chin Ting Chan, John Nichols III, and Per Bloland.

Audio

Contents May Differ was commissioned by and written for bass clarinetist Pat O'Keefe. The title refers to the sometimes unexpected world of sound contained in an instrument, once you--so to speak--open the box. In this case, I am opening the box of sound with the aid of electronic amplification. The use of multiple microphones allows for intense magnification and dissection of the bass clarinet's palette of sound, revealing beautiful spectra that often go unheard if you are more than a few inches from the instrument, let alone in the audience. -Scott L. Miller

Petals (2013) is a work drawn from an ongoing collaboration between dancers Paul Matteson and Jennifer Nugent, and composer Ted Coffey. We began to imagine co-making while performing Story/Time (2012) with Bill T. Jones. Petals explores unities of shared compositional and choreographic processes, to some degree irrespective of material. The music is presented in three scenes, each treating quite different sonic materials, developed in response to three very different compositional 'problems'. These range from tests of information-rich syntactic endurance, to making lemonade out of a lemony improvisation, to relating species of early digital sound to glo-fi. All keyed in my imagination to the sublime movement of two of the finest modern dancers in the world. -Ted Coffey

Metal Works is a suite of five pieces for piano and electronics that are tied together with a series of electro-acoustic interludes. Each movement draws inspiration from a concept of metal (be it scientific, poetic, or historic). In preparing this piece I spent time collecting metallic sounds, visiting industrial environments, and deep listening to the percussive and resonant aspects of metallic objects. The piano, with its tightly wound metal strings, becomes a resonant cavity in which I can translate concepts such as luster, torsion, and corrosion into the sonic medium. Here you are presented with the first two of five movements and their accompanying interludes. I thank Kathleen Supove for taking on this piece and would like to give my deep gratitude to the ASCAP/SEAMUS Student Commission for helping make this first installment of Metal Works possible. -Nina C. Young

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In no-input mixing, a performer controls an audio mixer by creating and manipulating feedback loop without the external sound source. With proper patching and some practice, the no-input mixer becomes powerful and expressive electronic instrument. This piece uses such instrument to narrate the following story: I am a taco on a journey to a man's digestive system, and this is what I heard inside the bowel. -Joo Won Park

time, forward explores my visions of time and the stretching of time through augmenting the sounds of a piano with live electronic processing. The performer often has the liberty to control the duration of the resonance of each sonority, both reacting to and controlling the electronics. The title, time, forward, describes such interaction and the resulting momentum in the music. -Chin Ting Chan

John Nichols III's compositions often draw from spiritual sources, as is the case with the composition featured on this volume, GATES, completed in 2013. The title refers to the gates of Jerusalem; from events described in the book of Nehemiah. The title also suggests the use of noise gates. This composition is honored with awards such as First Prize in the 2014 ASCAP/SEAMUS Student Composer Commission Competition, First Prize Absolute in the electroacoustic category of the International Composition Competition "Citta di Udine" and First Prize in the WOCMAT International Phil Winsor Electroacoustic Music Young Composers Awards. -John Nichols III

Solis-EA is loosely inspired by the novel Stillaset Brandt, by the Norwegian author Pedr Solis. Having created several other pieces that are tightly connected with the main (unnamed) character in the novel, Solis-EA is more concerned with the author himself, his unusual and dichotomous life, and his mysterious disappearance (or tragic end, depending on which biographer you read). This piece is dedicated to Ryan Packard. -Per Bloland

  • Produced by SEAMUS
  • Remastered by Scott A. Wyatt at the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios
  • Original graphic design by David Colley - revised design by Mark Hileman

Patrick O'Keefe

Pat O'Keefe is co-artistic director and woodwind player for the contemporary music ensemble ZEITGEIST, based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Pat has performed and recorded with noted new music groups, including SONOR in San Diego, the California E.A.R. Unit, the Cleveland New Music Associates, and Ensemble Sospeso in New York, as well as the San Diego Symphony and the Augusta Symphony. He is currently the clarinet instructor at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Ted Coffey

Ted Coffey makes acoustic and electronic chamber music, sound art, and songs. His work has been presented in concerts and festivals across North America, Europe and Asia. He is Associate Director of the Virginia Center for Computer Music and Associate Professor of Music at the University of Virginia, where he teaches courses in composition, music technologies, critical theory, and pop.

Kathleen Supové

Kathleen Supové is one of America’s most acclaimed and versatile contemporary music pianists, constantly redefining what a pianist/keyboardist/performance artist is in today’s world. Ms. Supové annually presents a series of solo concerts entitled The Exploding Piano. Through her numerous and varied commissioning projects, including The Debussy Effect, she has been a vital force in creating stunning, important works for the late 20th and early 21st century piano repertory. The Exploding Piano also uses electronics, theatrical elements, vocal rants, performance art, staging, and interdisciplinary collaboration. In 2012, Supové received the John Cage Award from the ASCAP Foundation for “the artistry and passion with which she performs, commissions, records, and champions the music of our time.”

http://www.supove.com

Joo Won Park

Joo Won Park (joowonpark.net) wants to make everyday sound beautiful and strange so that everyday becomes beautiful and strange. He performs live with toys, consumer electronics, kitchenware, vegetables, and other non-musical objects by digitally processing their sounds. He also makes pieces with field recordings, sine waves, and any other sources that he can record or synthesize. Joo Won draws inspirations from Florida swamps, Philadelphia skyscrapers, his two sons, and other soundscapes surrounding him. He has studied at Berklee College of Music and the University of Florida, and currently serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Music at the Oberlin Conservatory.

Chin Ting Chan

Composer Chin Ting (Patrick) CHAN has gained awards and recognitions from the Interdisciplinary Festival for Music and Sound Art, Soli fan tutti Composition Prize, American Prize, APNM, ASCAP, newEar, and New-Music Consortium. He has been featured in festivals such as ICMC, IRCAM's ManiFeste, June in Buffalo, Wellesley Composers Conference, and many others. He currently teaches audio programming at the University of Missouri—Kansas City.

Kari Johnson

Pianist Kari Johnson has performed at a variety of venues including the 2013 Seoul International Computer Music Festival, SEAMUS, the 2011 Thailand International Composition Festival, and ICMC 2014. Johnson has an affinity for new music performance, evident in her fearless interpretations and willingness to explore new techniques. Her playing has been praised for its "firm musicality" and "sensitivities [that are] rather extraordinary." She received her DMA in Piano Performance from UMKC in 2013.

Per Bloland

Per Bloland's compositions range from solo pieces to works for large orchestra, and incorporate video, dance, and custom built electronics. He has received awards and recognition from organizations including IRCAM, SEAMUS/ASCAP, Digital Art Awards of Tokyo, the Salvatore Martirano Competition, and ISCM. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Technology and Music Theory at Miami University, Ohio, and recently completed a Musical Research Residency at IRCAM in Paris. A portrait CD of his work is scheduled for release in fall 2015.

Scott L. Miller

Scott Miller's music has been described as 'inspir[ing] real hope & optimism for the future of electroacoustic music.' (Simon Cummings, 5against4.com). He has twice been named a McKnight Composer Fellow (2001, 2013), is a Fulbright Scholar, and his work has been recognized by the Jerome Foundation, the American Composers Forum, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and other organizations. His music is recorded on Innova, Eroica, CRS, rarescale and SEAMUS labels, and published by ACA (American Composers Alliance), Tetractys, and Jeanne. He is a Professor of Music at St. Cloud State University, and is President of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the U.S. (SEAMUS). www. scottimiller.net

Nina C. Young

Nina C. Young (b.1984) writes music characterized by an acute sensitivity to tone color manifested in aural images of vibrant, arresting immediacy. Young's music has garnered international acclaim through performances by the American Composers Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Either/Or, JACK Quartet, and Sixtrum. A recipient of the 2015 Rome Prize, a Charles Ives Scholarship, the Martirano Memorial Award, the Druckman Prize, and honors from BMI, Young has held fellowships at the Atlantic and Aspen Music Festivals, and the Tanglewood Music Center. A graduate of McGill and MIT, Nina is completing her DMA at Columbia University. She worked as a research assistant at the MIT Media Lab and CIRMMT and is currently an active participant at the Columbia Computer Music Center.

http://ninacyoung.com

Reviews

Fanfare

I already have reviewed Volumes 25 through 27 in these pages; now I have received Volume 24 for review. Go figure! Its contents, democratically chosen, are the results of voting at the annual SEAMUS conference that was held in 2014.

SEAMUS is the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States. It was founded in 1984, and is a non-profit organization of composers, performers, and teachers, working in many styles of music, but all having one thing in common: the use of electronic technology. In addition to its conferences, it publishes a journal, and it encourages its members to create new works. Previous winners of the “SEAMUS Award,” an annual recognition of contributors to the field of electro-acoustic music, include Wendy Carlos, Laurie Anderson, and Morton Subotnick—all very cool people.

Each SEAMUS volume has a different texture and temperature. Overall, more than the other three that I have reviewed, this one sounds like the soundtrack for a dystopian future—perhaps one imagined by cyberpunk author William Gibson. (His most famous book is Neuromancer.)

Despite its metallic and threatening tone, the music on this disc illustrates electro-acoustic music’s variety. Some works require a live performer whose sound is modified in real time by electronics. Here, an example of this is Chin Ting Chan’s time, forward, which allows the pianist herself or himself to modify the electronic processing in performance. In other works, such as Nina C. Young’s Metal Works—Part 1, the acoustic performer’s relationship with the electronic material has been determined ahead of time. The work is “a suite of pieces for piano and electronics that are held together with a series of electro-acoustic interludes.” Pianist Kathleen Supové, eschewing the career of a traditional pianist, instead has collaborated with probably hundreds of modern-day composers who use electronics to create a new palette for the piano. Her contribution to Metal Works is haunting and intense, if unconventional. It must have been a trip to see this performance live. In Scott Miller’s Contents May Differ, Patrick O’Keefe’s bass clarinet is figuratively dissected through the use of multiple microphones and electronic amplification. It often sounds nothing like a bass clarinet.

The only lighthearted work here, relatively speaking, is Joo Won Park’s Large Intestine. As suggested by the title, its premise is rather gross. In it, the composer imagines himself to be a taco “on a journey to a man’s digestive system, and this is what I heard inside the bowel.” Fortunately, this is not a music video. Park created this with a “no-input mixer” (in other words, a mixer is used, but without an external sound source) and a computer. No tacos were harmed in its creation.

My award for the most beautiful composition on this CD is Ted Coffey’s Petals 1, 2, & 3, which was composed to accompany a work for two dancers. There is an extended passage near the end in which a ping and a twitter call to each across the void, only to be annihilated by a stentorian electronic onslaught. At least that is how I hear it!

Not as approachable as other volumes that I have reviewed, Volume 27 in particular, Volume 24 is nevertheless consistently thought-provoking and challenging. Strike a blow against the same old same old and explore the world of SEAMUS, in which what we think of as music is just one more interesting sound.

-Raymond Tuttle, 4.3.19, Fanfare

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