Day 1: 8/05/1998
16:15 St Paul’s Hall Electric Spring Awakening
19:30 St Paul’s Happy Birthday, Karlheinz Stockhausen

Day 2: 9/05/1998
12:30 St Paul’s Hall Alan Thomas Performs
15:00 M5/01 Forum: The Future of Sonic Art in Yorkshire
19:30 St Paul’s Hall Composers of University of Huddersfield


Electric Spring Awakening

The culmination of an educational project supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England, involving students from Huddersfield Technical College and Bradford and llkley Community College, directed by Chris Adams and Dave Collins.

A year ago electric spring applied for funding from the Arts Council’s Lottery- funded A4E Express scheme to expand its activities. The application was successful and the results can be heard in today’s complementary events: a concert of music by one of the founding fathers of electronic music, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and before that, an entirely new work, created by students of Bradford and llkley Community College and Huddersfield Technical College. (As a pre-festival curtain-raiser, some of the students’ individual works were heard in a night of dance-music at the Eden nightclub on Wednesday.) They have taken Stockhausen’s ideas about the relationship of music and technology as a starting point but have then translated those ideas from the standpoint of a generation who have grown up in a world where imaginary soundscapes are an everyday reality rather than a utopian dream.


Happy 70th Birthday, Karlheinz Stockhausen

Karlheinz Stockhausen – Mikrophonie I
In Mikrophonie I performers use a wide variety of materials to bring a large tam-tam into vibration; two performers pass hand microphones over the surface of the tam-tam, a third group of performers uses electronic filters and potentiometers to transform the vibrations picked up, which are played through loudspeakers at the same time as the original sounds of the tam-tam The separation of the musical process into three independent areas (production, presentation and transformation of sounds) makes possible a continuous combination of all the experience of instrumental practice with that of the techniques of electronic sound. Thereby any sound-source whatsoever (traditional instruments, acoustical events of any type) can be integrated in a composition which tends towards coherence, and the dualism between instrumental and electronic music is dissolved. The title “Mikrophonie” also points to the fact that vibrations that are normally inaudible (in this case those of the tam-tam) can be made audible by means of an active process of auscultation with microphones (in much the same way as a doctor uses a stethoscope): in contrast to its previous passive function as an extremely faithful recorder of sounds, the microphone is used actively, as a musical instrument. The procedures of working on the sound and of monitoring it, which hitherto occurred only during protracted programmes of work in the electronic music studio, are carried out in Mikrophonie I in virtually no time at all, hence simultaneously with the production of the original sounds, and the result is made audible immediately.

Karlheinz Stockhausen – Refrain
A quiet and spaciously composed continuity of sounds is disturbed six times by a short refrain. This refrain contains glissandi and clusters, trills, bass notes (in the piano) and brief snatches of melody, elements which are absent from the first form. The points at which the refrain is played are chosen by the players themselves and can change from one performance to the next; once they are fixed, however, the final shape of the refrain will be influenced by its immediate context (thus trill, glissandi and melody should be based on notes of the chord standing before or after the refrain in the text); conversely, every time it has sounded, the refrain exerts a modifying influence on the music which follows it: the characteristics of piano, celesta and vibraphone sounds are altered by the intervention of “colouring” percussion instruments, this happening in increasing or decreasing degrees depending on the points chosen for the refrain’s entry. Thus, within a static condition, a dynamic formal process is awakened by unforeseen disturbances; and the one influences and leaves its mark on the other without any conflict arising.

Karlheinz Stockhausen – Kurzwellen
In Kurzwellen, the six players react on the spur of the moment of performance to the utterly unpredictable sounds received on short-wave radios. What I have composed is the process of transforming: how they react to what they hear on the radio; how they imitate it and then modulate or transpose it in time – longer or shorter, with greater or lesser rhythmic articulation – and in space – higher or lower, louder or softer; when and how and how often they are to play together or alternately in duos, trios or quartets; how they call out to each other, issue invitations, so that together they can observe a single event passing amongst them for a stretch of time, letting it shrink and grow, bundling it up and spreading it out, darkening it and brightening it, condensing it and losing it in embellishments.

What can be more world-wide, more ego-transcending, more all-embracing, more universal and more momentaneous than the broadcasts which in Kurzwellen take on the guise of musical material? How can we break through the closed world of radio waves which spread as it were a cutaneous network of music around the globe? Does it not already hold many sounds to be picked up by our short-wave receivers that seem to come from utterly different worlds- worlds beyond speech, beyond reportage, beyond “music”, beyond Morse s signals?

Kurzwellen is at one and the same time the summary of a long development and the opening up of a new consciousness. What happens consists only of what the world is broadcasting NOW; it issues from the human spirit, is further moulded and continually transformed by the mutual interference to which all emissions are subject; and finally it is brought to a higher unity by our musicians in their performance. The earlier antitheses between old and new, between far and near, between known and unknown, are resolved. EVERYTHING is SIMULTANEOUSLY the WHOLE. The notion of time is swallowed into the mind’s past.

And now? We have come to the edge of a world which offers us the limits of the accessible, of the unpredictable: it must be possible for something not of this world to find a way through, something that hitherto could not be found by any radio station on this earth. Let us set out to look for it!


Composers of University of Huddersfield

Geoff Cox – Vita Interior
This piece uses four stereo samples all derived from long tones played on a tenor saxophone. Each tone, from a different register, was first sampled then “granularised” using the sequencer and recording on to DAT via some signal processing (chorus, reverb and pitch changes) and equalisation . These recordings were then themselves sampled, trimmed and looped, creating the only sounds used in the music.

Three of the granular textures (x, y and z) are fixed on a single tone, whilst one, (w) uses different pitches taken from note sequences used in the harmonic structure of the processor. Careful adjustment of its EQ in conjunction with this, created a sound most distant from its origins. With the other three textures I found that by adjusting the envelopes on the sampler I could finely tune their noise/pitch ratio. Thus: x – very rough, noisy, y – a kind of breathy chord and z – mostly pitch with a delivery like steel.

Taking a deliberately conservative approach to the music I based it, structurally on pitched (even tonal) harmony. Various note sequences (all derived from one set), build up, overlap and abate – each note entry determining both metre and tempo which are changing every bar. All pitches are accompanied by their own crescendo/diminuendo. Two macro-forms are also operating, i.e. a varying textural density which gradually increases to a climax, then thins out and a slow upward then downward trend, pitchwise. For the first two thirds of the piece only samples x, y and z are heard but at the climax, sample w enters to lead the music off to its calming conclusion.

The title refers to the ” inner life” of a music superficially ambient in nature but which reveals, on closer listening, a rich rhythmic and textural interplay, derived largely from the overlapping and thus the moving in and out of phase of looped pitches, made more complex by the continually changing tempo.

Lisa Reim – Dies lrae
This work was inspired by the Dies lrae from the Requiem Mass. Having spent many years in choirs I have often found the power of human voices overwhelming. Similarly, the sound world of acousmatic music often has an intensity of musical experience that can be all engulfing, even when there is no human performer.

Tonight’s version will be performed as a tape only piece, for which I have concentrated on the attempt to capture some of the spirit of the text. This composition was written as part of an electroacoustitc module in Huddersfield University. I would in particular like to thank Michael Clarke for his generous support throughout the process of writing this piece.

Rob Scorah – Shimmerance of Ether
The origins of this piece are found in the strange world thrown up as one tunes between radio stations on any portable radio. It is as if, with the aid of the machine. one has become clairaudient, able to dip into the thoughts and dreams of the world at will. Two main characteristics of this sonic wasteland are the ever-present biting and spitting interference, and the floating, glass-like tones which rise and fall, singing their own strange melodies, sometimes in tune with the other music that overlays them.

To recreate this world, the obvious first task was to record the static chaos itself. Once the tiny electronic songs were caught, the best means of replicating and developing them turned out to be an old Roland analogue, modular synthesiser. This could produce almost identical sounds itself, which could be further explored by the synthesiser, or put through the processing units of the computer. The hiss and crackles attendant to the Roland were left in the sounds and indeed added to those that had been made by ‘cleaner’, more modern digital synths, and also to the voice and singing samples used in the composition of the piece.

Shimmerance of Ether is meant to reflect that electro-magnetic clairaudience: the hearing of all things together, of things far off and far away in both time and space. It is an alembic of such things, distilled and refined by some alchemist, and put in a bottle.

Margaret Lucy Wilkins – Fearful Apathy
Thanks to David Lennox (voice) and John Hodgson (percussion).

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Jew

Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out –
because I was not a communist

Next they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out –
because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Neimoeller, victim of the Holocaust

Michael Clarke – Prism (Eight Part Invention #2)
Both the trumpet and octaphonic tape parts of Prism are based on just 8 notes and on the unpitched sound of air blowing through the instrument. The trumpet is not so much a solo in the traditional sense as a reference point for the computer transformations for which spatial distribution is crucial. The computer acts like a prism: the trumpet recordings are broken into 8 harmonic components (partials) which are then treated independently. On one level, therefore, Prism might be thought of as a meditation on the sonority of the trumpet.

In the first section, 64 partials make up the eight note chords. At first these are grouped spatially according to the notes from which they are derived but as the section progresses, the same 64 partials re-position into more and more distant groupings, subtly transformrng the texture. In the second section, the partials derived from extended versions of one of the notes rotate around the speakers at different speeds in proportion to their frequency (higher partials rotating more quickly). In the third section the transformations become more wide-ranging and the solo trumpet develops a more sustained melodic line. Finally, against the background of the breath which inspires the trumpet, the instrument’s harmonic structure is turned through 90 degrees, on to its side, and takes on a new, ethereal quality.

Stewart Worthy – Sonata for percussion and voice
The word ‘sonata’ is used in its most general sense and does not relate to the form of the piece. The music consists of sections constructed from just percussion samples (including piano) interspersed with sections made from just voice samples- all of which derive from two words- ‘shadows’ and ‘light’- sung by a female singer. To begin with the first percussion section becomes twice the length of the initial section whilst the subsequent voice section becomes half the length of the previous one. The basic outline of the piece therefore is a merging of two differently constructed sections which inversely change their duration.

The most used intervals in the piece are that of a 4th/5th, mainly because chords of looped samples can be built up evenly, all twelve tones being used before octaves appear. I also tried, whenever I could, to use 4th/5ths in the melodic shapes of single lines.

Mark Bromwich – Ghosts
Ghosts is a narrative piece based on three legends from the Aboriginal Dreamtime – a mythological time when man was in direct contact with the spirit world. Ghosts was composed in 1995 as part of a dance programme that featured the work of four choreographers working in collaboration with four composers. Ghosts was reworked in 1997 for the concert hall and is regularly performed and broadcast internationally. The sound sources for the piece are samples from a C sharp Didgeridoo and a variety of home made aboriginal Spirit Catchers. Samples were then manipulated using a variety of electro-acoustic processing techniques. Ghosts is available on the MPS Music & Video label.

Christopher Fox – Insecurity
Insecurity was commissioned by the BBC as part of Alarmed and Dangerous, a radio piece I made for Radio 3 in 1996. Like all of Alarmed and Dangerous, Insecurity is about the relationship between the trumpet and warnings, a relationship first drawn to my attention by Mark Robinson, the trumpeter whose ideas and playing sparked off Alarmed and Dangerous. In pre-industrial societies it is with trumpets (or their relatives) that alarms are sounded, that good or bad news is announced, that people are called to war. In the modem world we use electronic alarm signals instead…