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Scores by Alvin Lucier

Alvin Lucier

Publication Year: 2012

Chambers is a virtually complete collection of composer Alvin Lucier's major works from 1965 to 1977, interspersed with twelve interviews with the composer by Douglas Simon. Each score is written in prose and may be read by musicians as instructions for performance or by general readers as descriptions of imaginary musical activities. In response to Simon's searching questions, Lucier expands on each composition, not only explaining its genesis and development but also revealing its importance to the vigorously experimental American tradition to which Alvin Lucier belongs.

Many of his compositions jolt conventional notions of the role of composer, performer, and listener, and the spaces in which they play and listen. His works are scored for an astonishing range of instruments: seashells, subway stations, toy crickets, sonar guns, violins, synthesizers, bird calls, and Bunsen burners. All are unique explorations of acoustic phenomena - echoes, brain waves, room resonances - and radically transform the idea of music as metaphor into that of music as physical fact.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Title Page

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pp. ix-x

I first met Alvin Lucier in 1968 when he came to Wesleyan University, where I was an undergraduate, to offer a course in new music. He was still teaching at Brandeis University then and traveled to Middletown, Connecticut, once a week from Waltham, Massachusetts. It...

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1. Chambers

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pp. 1-14

Sounds of portable resonant environments such as sea shells and cupped hands may be carried out into streets, countrysides, parks, campuses, through buildings and houses, until outer limits are reached where minimum audio contact can be maintained by a player with at least one...

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2. Vespers

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pp. 15-27

Accept and perform the task of acoustic orientation by scanning the environment and monitoring the changing relationships between the outgoing and returning clicks. By changing the repetition rate of the outgoing clicks, using as a reference point a speed at which the returning clicks...

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3. "I Am Sitting in a Room"

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pp. 29-39

Rewind the tape to its beginning, transfer it to tape recorder #2, play it back into the room through the loudspeaker and record a second generation of the original recorded statement through the microphone attached to tape recorder...

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4. (Hartford) Memory Space

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pp. 41-52

Go to outside environments (urban, rural, hostile, benign) and record by any means (memory, written notations, tape recordings) the sound situations of those environments. Returning to an inside performance space at any later time, re-create, solely by means of your voices and...

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5. Quasimodo the Great Lover

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pp. 53-65

Use one or more microphone-amplifier-loudspeaker systems to lengthen the distance over which the sounds may be sent. In large, single places such as prairies, glaciers, or ocean basins, use single systems of great power or several weaker systems in series. Connect small, separated spaces...

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6. Music for Solo Performer

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pp. 67-78

The alpha rhythm of the brain has a range of from 8 to 12 Hz, and, if amplified enormously and channeled through an appropriate transducer, can be made audible. It can be blocked by visual attention with the eyes open or mental activity with the eyes closed. No part of the motor system...

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7. The Duke of York

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pp. 79-91

Two persons design a musical performance in which one of them, the synthesist, uses an electronic music synthesizer or equivalent configuration of electronic equipment to alter the vocal identity of the other, the vocalist, who selects and orders any number of songs, speeches, arias...

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8. The Queen of the South and Tyndall Orchestrations

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pp. 93-108

Sing, speak, or play electronic or acoustic musical instruments in such a way as to activate metal plates, drumheads, sheets of glass, or any wood, copper, steel, glass, cardboard, earthenware, or other responsive surfaces upon which are strewn quartz sand, silver salt, iron filings, lycopodium...

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9. Gentle Fire

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pp. 109-125

Record these transformations on tape in any sequence on any number of channels, using any manner of mixing, overlapping, or fading, taking care only that the process of change from each original sound event to its final state of transformation is slowly, gradually, and clearly heard...

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10. Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas

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pp. 127-144

Create standing waves in space caused by constructive and destructive interference patterns among sine waves from loudspeakers. With single sine wave oscillators, amplifiers, and pairs of loudspeakers, design sound geographies for dancers consisting of troughs and crests of soft and loud...

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11. Outlines and Bird and Person Dyning

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pp. 145-158

Position any number of loudspeakers behind persons and things. Through the loudspeakers mix clusters of sine tones of short enough wavelengths in relationship to the sizes of the persons and things so as to create audible diffraction patterns around and in front of them...

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12. Music in a Long Thin Wire

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pp. 159-170

Extend a long metal wire (#1 music wire or equivalent) across or lengthways down a performance space. Affix both ends to the far edges of the tops of tables or other similar platforms and tighten them with clamps, hanging weights over pulleys, or other tension-creating devices. Route...


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pp. 171


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pp. 173-177

E-ISBN-13: 9780819573087
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819550422

Page Count: 190
Publication Year: 2012