Friday, March 03, 2006

I've been working on the speaker layout for US4, a piece for oboe and live electronics. I say I've been working on the speaker layout, but actually it's just a tiny little aspect of the distribution of one of the delay lines. It's caused me a lot of grief trying to sort it out though. F suggested a great solution. Except I don't like it. It's too easy. Knowing when to back down from the technical challenge posed by a very small detail is not something I'm terribly good at. I've nearly got a great solution. But I've just found a flaw.

On the up side, I've decided that US4 is part of a trilogy of works that overlaps with two other of my cycles: The Star Spangled Banner for detuned violin will form the final part of my 10-part Americana cycle, and an as-yet-unnamed percussion solo will feature in An Evening with Ezra Pound. I'm thinking of calling the trilogy: American Icons or American Heroes. The heroes of US4 are Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld (at the head of the score is a quote: 'almost all our language has been taxed by war' from Ginsberg's Howl). The Star Spangled Banner (I think) will touch on Jimi Hendrix's iconic meditation whilst taking a backward glance at the rest of the cycle. The percussion solo will have something to do with Pound's American cantos (posited title: God Save Liberty, The Congress, And Adams). I call this the up side because it gives US4 a home. Also, seeing as I'm going to be applying for funding for a post doctoral project focussing on the idea of cycles, it adds an additional twist to an already polyvalent concept. Also, it allows me to begin the percussion piece as a stepping stone into An Evening with Ezra Pound... I was intending to produce it during my 30th birthday year, but thinking sensibly, I'm not going to have the time. One year late is acceptable!

I was going to explain more about this problem with the speakers in US4 but I don't want to. It's such a ridiculously small problem. It's probably not worth spending this much time on because the effect of all this fussing won't be audible. But, for whatever reason, it annoys me that I haven't come up with a satisfying (to me) solution. Once it's sorted, there's only the cosmetic side of the score to remedy. Then it's done and I can send it to Chris Redgate. And Cheney will grunt and Bush will address the faithful. And Rumsfeld will sing and Wolfowitz will squeak. Everywhere.

Received in the post a CD of music by Aldo Clementi called Punctum contra Punctum. It's amazing. If you've never heard any of his stuff you really should. The CD has four tracks and verges from the bizarre (GiAn(ca)rlo CArDini for prepared piano) to the thoroughly weird (Fantasia su roBErto FABriCiAni for solo flute with twenty four recorded flutes). I finally ordered the CD of Madrigale by the Ives Ensemble, which is the only CD of Clementi's music you'll find on

Also received the Decca LP of Brian Ferneyhough's Transit. I've been looking for this recording for about five years so I'm very happy that I actually own it now. It's a very clean recording and you can hear a lot of what's going on. I'm looking forward to getting the score out of the library again and following it with the recording. It's such a shame that the plans to reissue it on CD fell through. Transit is a great piece and it's really unfortunate that there is no CD recording of it.

Managed to do one of my favourite things last night: took a bath while listening to the latest podcast from the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland. This month it featured an interview with Judith Ring, a (largely) electroacoustic composer currently working at York university. I can't say that I was blown away either by her ideas or by her music, but she seemed to be an interesting sort of composer. She seemed to be very much against any idea of conformity. Which is great. Should be encouraged. And she has a website ( If nothing else, these podcasts are fantastic for finding out about a large number of composers that we never hear about in Britain. You can find out about the podcasts at

I feel I should attack the US4 problem again before retiring for the night. The last thing I want is to be facing it again tomorrow. I will prevail.


Blogger Diego said...

Great blog! I'm the guy of Music and thoughts/my music. You left some comments in my site. I'm not able to answer them at this moment, but I'll do as soon as I can.

By the way. It's interesting how you give detail of your work. I am a new fan of your blog!

Thanks for the prices of Ferneyhough's books, and it's true, labels can help.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

Aldo Clementi is a fairly recent discovery for me - his Concerto for violin, 40 instruments and carillons was on Hear & Now 9/10/04 and it completely bowled me over, I've never heard anything like it. I bought the Ives Ensemble CD - it took Amazon 3-4 months to get it but it eventually arrived. Did you get Punctum contra Punctum from lingering? Seems to be the only source I can find on the net.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

PS found your blog from R3 MB tho one of yr links is wrong - no "-".

I'm on there as Andy D btw - one of the few there who bothers to talk about H&N etc.

Have visited in past for composer info but didn't know about their podcasts - took a bit of locating but have downloaded them now.

1:17 AM  

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