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  • Sound and Video Anthology:Program Notes

Women in Computer Music: Mara Helmuth, Curator

About the Music

This collection of works represents a journey through different sonic perspectives, from composers who have impacted us, and compelled us to think differently about music, sound art, composition, gender, or technology. They disrupt stereotypes about what music by women should be. Each composition represented here is an uncommon and meaningful adventure by a sound-exploring composer, ranging from Laurie Spiegel's 1987 work to Elizabeth Hoffman's piece from December 2019, and the approaches taken are diverse.

The pieces are arranged to provide three concert-length listening sessions. The first session begins with the scratchy, driving rhythms of Judith Shatin's "Tape Music" in stereo or 5.1 audio, proceeds to explorations of remote, underwater sounds in Annea Lockwood's "Dusk," to Elizabeth Hoffman's subtle and timbrally churning "Clouds Pattern." The precise and playful acousmatic composition, "Bastet" by Elsa Justel, precedes Judy Klein's mesmerizing tribute to lost lives in "Railcar." An exuberant memorial follows this, to a former teacher, in Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner's "EvenMoreduSt."

Laurie Spiegel's timbral rhythms from her piece "Passage" begins the second session, followed by Hildegard Westerkamp's sonic love poem "Für Dich—For You," based on a text by Rainer Maria Rilke. Natasha Barrett's intricate audio work, "Pockets of Space," was originally created for a virtual reality environment and may be heard here in binaural (for headphones) or stereo audio versions. The new, spirited composition by Margaret Schedel, "QfwfQ," for the duo Hear | Say, presents melodic and rhythmic drive. The final work in this session is a compelling video by Loadbang performing Paula Matthusen's "Old Fires Catch Old Buildings."

The third session begins with Carla Scaletti's extraordinary "H→gg," involving sonification of potential Higgs boson particle data from the Large Hadron Collider atom-smasher at CERN, in stereo, and in multichannel, or video, of a dance collaboration version of the piece. Next, Katharine Norman's "A Walk I Do" reveals elegantly unfolding flute-based sounds and graphics. Frances White's "The Old Rose Reader," written for and performed by violinist-composer Mari Kimura, is a meditation on the beautiful French names of old rose species and related stories. "Sound Dunes" is my third compositional collaboration with tárogató performer Esther Lamneck, whose incredible improvisations, as well as the natural contours of sand dunes, inspired this piece.

To make the number of pieces manageable, I decided to include works that are not installations, because those could not be fully experienced online, and pieces by living composers who are usually not focused on performing. I also wanted a measure of geographical diversity. There were more composers' works I would have liked to include, as well as other strategies for inclusion. I hope you will find them in a future anthology. I would like to thank Judy Klein for the perceptive advice she gave me at many steps in the curatorial process.

To set playback levels at an appropriate uniform volume, you could first set the level for the loud beginning of piece six, Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner's "EvenMoreduSt."

Part 1 (50 minutes)

Tape Music (2015)—Judith Shatin

"Tape Music" is a meditation on tape as a collection of materials that are emblematic of our throwaway culture, and can still be used to mend items that would otherwise be consigned to the trash heap. It is also a nostalgic tribute to the genre of tape music that persists despite the ongoing changes in playback media. The initial spur for "Tape Music" came from an NPR broadcast about a factory. As I heard the sounds of boxes being taped up, I immediately decided to compose "Tape Music." Assisted by sound engineer Mark Graham, I made recordings of myself ripping, cutting, squashing, and otherwise messing with a wide variety of types of tape, as well as taping, and then slashing, boxes. Various microphones were used and isolated on different tracks to maximize the sonic potential. The original version of "Tape Music" is for 5.1 surround sound, but it also exists for stereo and quadrophonic versions.

Track Duration: 7:09

Judith Shatin is a composer and sound...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1531-5169
Print ISSN
0148-9267
Pages
pp. 110-120
Launched on MUSE
2020-11-20
Open Access
No
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