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Electroacoustic Music by Women Composers

presented by CEMI (Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia) in coordination with the Women's Studies Department at UNT

Tuesday, March 23, 1999 5:00pm - Merrill Ellis Intermedia Theater

In Celebration of Women's History Month

Du Libe Tu? (1997) - Elsa Justel (FR)
Unfold Entwine (1998) - Diane Thome (USA)
Voices of a Place: Hildegard Westerkamp Inside the Soundscape (1998) - Sylvie macCormac (CAN)
Chat Noir (1998) - Elizabeth Anderson (USA)
Hard Cash (and small dreams of change) (1997) - Katharine Norman (UK)


Arabesque (1992) - Daria Semegen (USA)
FAMILY STORIES: SOPHIE, SALLY (1998) - Anna Rubin and Laurie Hollander (USA)
Aquasphere (1990) - Elizabeth Hayden Pizer (USA)
Tech Support (1998) - Kristi McGarity (USA)

Introduction article by Elainie Lillios

Du Libe Tu? - Elsa Justel

Tombeau de Pierre Schaeffer

“ Les dieux sont devenus machines... les machines pensent, elles font donc elles sont, elles fabriquent dont elles agissent, elles agissent donc elles vivent. De la vie ellessont le mouvement, le souffle, le style... Au terme d'un tel périple, seul le courage importe, l'imagination, l'intelligence... ou l'homme s'arrêtera fatigué, embarrassé de ses conquêtes, ou il se souviendra qu'un même mot -clé de l'entendement-, signifie écouter et comprendre. Ce musicien là fera ?a un rien du tout, que ce soit Dieu, table ou cuvette, de la même oreille musicienne, il épiera la modulation du rossignol, le souffle des machines, et des oiseaux des tropiques, il saura tirer sa propre partition." Pierre Schaeffer

Tomb of Pierre Schaeffer

"Gods had become machines... the machines think, they make  so they exist, they build so they work, they work so they live. They are the movement of the life, its blow ... its style... At the end of that promenade, only the courage cares, the imagination, the intelligence... the man will stop tired, confused by his own conquest or, he will remember that one word -key of the understanding- means to hear and to understand. That musician will know how to do his own score. It doesn't mind if the source is God, a table, or a washbasin, he will spy the modulation of the nightingale, the noise of machines and the tropical birds, with the same musical ear. " Pierre .Schaeffer

Elsa Justel, compositeure de musique électroacoustique, cherche à intégrer des éléments sonores réels et virtuels dans un discours fusionné. Sa conception de l'espace sonore et structurel vise à refléter l'interaction dynamique des deux, ainsi l'instrument en direct est alternativement protagoniste et acteur imperceptible du matériau de la bande. Le langage d'Elsa Justel, fondé principalement sur les surfaces rugueuses, demeure énergique et par moments, violent; il garde néanmoins une nuance fortement poétique.

Elsa Justel, composer of electroacoustic music, seeks to integrate real and virtual elements into a fusion of discourse. Her conception of sound space and structure aim to reflect the dynamic interaction of the two, thus the direct instrument is alternately protagonist and impercptable actor of the tape material. The language of Elsa Justel is blended principally on rigorous surfaces, at times without energy, and other times violent; it retains nevertheless, a strong poetic nuance.

Unfold Entwine - Diane Thome

Music for me is often connected with visual, spatial and kinetic experience. It was with this awareness that I began to conceive of this work as a mysterious, slowly-unfolding journey with an astonishing, even magical, destination that would appear much later in the compositional narrative.

The sense of the unknown - the unforeseen - the invisible - was present in my mind throughout the compositional process motivating a trajectory of sonic events. The single stream of sound which opens the piece ultimately devolves, after a series of briefer digressions, into a realm of multiple, concurrent tributaries. The processes of unfolding, disclosing, interleaving and entwining which characterize the architecture of the work also suggested its title.

UnfoldEntwine was created primarily with a Capybara-66 signal processing system in conjunction with Kyma 4.5 software. Additional software used included Deck II, Sound Designer, Audiosculpt and Sound Hack, all running on a Power Mac.

I thank Eleanor Hovda for permission to incorporate a quotation from her Borealis Music and Robert Austin for his help in the production of the tape.

Composer of a wide variety of works which span solo, chamber, choral, orchestral and electronic media, Diane Thome is the first woman to write computer-synthesized music. Her compositions have been presented in Europe, China, Australia, Israel, Canada, and throughout the United States. She has been a guest of the Ecole Nationale Claude Debussy and featured on French radio, composer-in-residence at the University of Sussex and the Bennington Chamber Music Conference and Composers Forum of the East. Recent awards include 1994 Washington Composer of the Year, 1995-6 Solomon Katz Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, and a 1998 International Computer Music Conference Commission. Her collaborative works include Night Passage, an environmental theatre piece presented in the pavilion of the Moore College of Art in Philadelphia and Angels, for virtual reality artwork shown at the Biennale des Arts Electroniques in Paris. Her music has been recorded on the CRI, Crystal Records, Capstone and Centaur labels including Palaces of Memory, an 18-year retrospective of her electro-acoustic music on the Centaur label. She holds a Ph.D. and M.F.A. in Composition from Princeton and a M.A. in Theory and Composition from the University of Pennsylvania. Diane Thome is Professor and Chair of the Composition Program at the School of Music at the University of Washington.

Voices of a Place: Hildegard Westerkamp Inside the Soundscape (7:15) - Sylvi macCormac

Voices of a Place: Hildegard Westerkamp Inside the Soundscape (7:15) - Sylvi macCormac

This composition came into being by way of preparation for writing the essay Talking Rain: Towards an Understanding. At Simon Fraser University, Barry Truax's FPA 347 Electroacoustic course gave me the opportunity to diffuse Talking Rain in an eight speaker environment as well as study the work in more detail towards the essay. Introduced to Hildegard at the concert, i asked if i might email or phone her about the work. When she offered to meet me in person i thought it would be interesting to record the session and asked if i might bring along my walk-DAT. By the time i met with her i had sifted three pages of words from Masters thesis Listening and Soundmaking. Along with interviewing her about sound and composition it was my intention to give her these pages of her own words asking her to read them in any order and also to improv on the words of those sounds that she recorded. The three sections of Voices of a Place correspond to those three aspects of the interview and recording session. i thought that i would like to write an essay in words for Talking Rain and to compose an audio portrait or audio essay of Hildegard Westerkamp as a Soundscape composer. i included recordings from my own library as well as from the library of the World Soundscape Project@SFU, whose founding members include Westerkamp, Barry Truax and R. Murray Schafer. In this way i was able to pain the portrait, setting her own words and voice in the Canadian West Coast Soundscape familiar to Hildegard Westerkamp.

Working with voice, instruments and real world sounds, sylvi macCormac studies with Barry Truax at Simon Fraser University in Canada within the genre of Electroacoustic known as Text-Music-Soundscape. She works with field recordings from her own library as well as the library of the World Soundscape Project at SFU and with several kinds of processes including Truax's granular synthesis. Finding a musical niche in Electroacoustic, sylvi enjoys composing with sound and is presently working on two compositions for 8 channel diffusion. An interdisciplinary artist, sylvi works with mask, music, poetry, dance, theatre and film.

Chat Noir (9:46) - Elizabeth Anderson

Chat Noir (9:46) - Elizabeth Anderson

"Chat Noir" is the second work in a cycle of works that are based on the book "Owning Your Own Shadow - Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche" by Robert A. Johnson. Chat Noir explores the paradox of opposition in the psychological reality of mankind in particular the shadow-making process in a young human being.

Being that "the civilizing process culls out characteristics that are dangerous to the smooth functioning of our ideas, the shadow becomes that which has not entered adequately into consciousness. It is the despised quarter of our being that is pushed to the bottom of the spiritual pool. We divide the self into an ego and the shadow because (Western) culture insists that we behave in a particular manner".

Chat Noir explores this shadow. It is a scherzo. The human being, now awake assimilates its own contradictions of the soul presented here in the form of a game. The young being learns as he plays, however the socializing process is at work here. At every game a "right" and "wrong" are established, thus sewing the seeds for internal conflict. The shadow roars up in the musical form as "knots", moments of great tension which predictably, or sometimes suddenly, appear.

Running counter to the image of the young being and its turbulent development is the counterweight of a small being - like a cat - who's presentation in the piece is parallel to that of the human. This figure represents the ego in us, the pure shadow. It does not develop or become cultivated; its personality is limpid. The presence of this small character in the piece is important as it demonstrates "the existence of the "pure gold' part of our personality which is often relegated to the shadow because it can find no place in that great leveling process that is culture".

Much of the sound material for Chat Noir was composed in the studio "GMEM" in Marseille. Parts of this piece were mixed in the studios at City University (London) and also at "Métamorphoses d' Orphée", in Ohain, Belgium. The final mix was done in the composer's studio. This work was created with the support of the ministry of the French speaking community in Belgium.

The music of Elizabeth Anderson has been performed in North and South America as well as in Europe and in Asia. She won the Audience Prize in the "1997/1998 Noroit Prize for Acousmatic Composition, 5th Edition" (Arras, France) for her work "L'éveil". Her music has also been selected at the "Grands Prix Internationaux de Musique Electroacoustique, 22ème Concours" in Bourges, France in 1994, " The Stockholm Electronic Arts Award 1994 ", the "2nd International Electroacoustic Music Competition of Sao Paulo 1997", as well as having received an honorable mention at the "1st International Electroacoustic Music Competition of Sao Paulo 1995".

Elizabeth Anderson received a Master of Music in composition from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in 1987. She obtained a certificate in instrumental composition from the Royal Conservatory of Music of Brussels in 1990. In 1993 she received the final diploma in electronic music composition from the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. In 1994 she earned the first prize and in 1998 the superior diploma both in electroacoustic music at the at the Royal Conservatory of Mons. She is the recipient of an "Overseas Research Scholarship" which will allow her to pursue doctoral studies in electroacoustic music at the City University in London starting in 1998.

Elizabeth Anderson is currently the professor of electroacoustic music at the Academy of Music of Soignies (Belgium).

Hard Cash (and small dreams of change) - Katharine Norman

What would you do if you won a million ? We've all played that game.

Hard Cash (and small dreams of change) uses interviews made on the streets of London, and recordings of a fun-fair and amusement arcade on Brighton Pier. Throughout the piece, the texture is woven with the sound of a spinning coin, in various guises. The work is an ironic elegy for the sound of hard cash, and a scherzo for our small dreams of change. It seeks to merge the hard, unfinished quality of location-recorded sound - perhaps the aural equivalent of the hand-held camera- with the computer-transformed reality of filtered tones and pitches, creating a computer processed world that explores how things are, how things seem, and how they might be.

This piece was made using SGI and NeXT computers.

Hard Cash (and small dreams of change) is available on Sonic Circuits V (Innova 114) available from the American Composers Forum

Dr Katharine Norman PhD MA MMus BA, Lecturer, Director of Stanley Glasser Electronic Music Studio, graduated from Bristol University before being awarded a Fulbright scholarship and a Wingate fellowship to study composition and computer music at Princeton University, where she received her doctorate in 1993. She has taught at Bristol University, Dartington College of Arts, Sussex University and The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. From 1994-7 she was Lecturer in Composition at Sheffield University. Her work as a composer/sound-artist encompasses instrumental, electronic and collaborative pieces and her pieces are performed and broadcast internationally. Research interests lie in the field of computer and electroacoustic music, in particular the use of recorded "real world" or documentary sources as musical material. Articles and papers are published, or forthcoming, in Contemporary Music Review, Microsoft's Encarta and The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. She has been a director of Sonic Arts Network, and was artistic director of their 15th birthday South Bank festival, PLUGGED!. She has also been a board member of the ICMA (International Computer Music Association), editing the ICMA newsletter, Array.

Arabesque - Daria Semegen

In Arabesque, various original timbres are developed into interesting textures which, in turn, generate musical tension and movement. The resulting soundscape reflects some of the complex and expressive possibilities (such as sudden, diverse timbral juxtapositions) in the electronic music medium.

This music depends primarily neither on pitch nor rhythm, which are the quantifiable parameters of conventional scores. Here, other parameters --such as spatial perspective, stereo alternation, density and precise volume balances of mixed layers -- are important to the expressive quality and structure of the music. Electronic music works are inherently experimental and less predictable then more familiar instrumental music: expect the unexpected.

The work was commissioned by the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) and composed at the SUNY-Stony Brook Electronic Music Studio. Arabesque is dedicated to the memory of electronic music pioneer Bulent Arel. (1992)

Daria Semegen is a composer of chamber, orchestral, vocal, dance, electronic and film music. She is a composition professor and Director of the Electronic Music Studio at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1965 she created Six Plus, a pioneering work for six instruments and musique concrete sounds on tape. During 1971-76 she worked at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center as composer, teacher and sound technician.

Semegen studied at the Eastman School of Music, Yale and Columbia universities, and in Poland as a Fulbright scholar studying with Witold Lutoslawski. Her music has received many international performances and awards including two BMI awards, six National Endowment for the Arts grants, a National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences prize, fellowships to Yaddo, MacDowell Colony and Tanglewood; the ISCM International Electronic Music Competition prize and other awards. In 1987 she was the first woman to be awarded the McKim Commission from the Library ofCongress.

Her music is recorded on New World Records, CRI, Finnadar/Atlantic, Opus One and Columbia Records.

FAMILY STORIES: SOPHIE, SALLY (16:18) - Anna Rubin and Laurie Hollander

FAMILY STORIES: SOPHIE, SALLY (16:18) - Anna Rubin and Laurie Hollander

FAMILY STORIES, SOPHIE, SALLY is a text/sound piece using narrative, sampled ambient sounds and computer-generated music. It tells the story of Anna Rubin's mother, Sophie Rubin, the child of Russian Jewish immigrants in Atlanta, Georgia. Because Sophie Rubin's mother became ill and then died when she was seven, she was raised by an African-American woman, Sally, who had been hired by the family to care for her and her siblings. The racism and anti-Semitism in early 20th century Atlanta are the atmosphere in which this story of a child's unbearable loss--the death of her birth mother and then the leaving of her surrogate mother--is told. The text was written by Anna Rubin with help from actress/choreographer Aleta Hayes who portrays Sally in song and text.

This work represents for both composers their abiding interest in the human voice, both in its specra-morphological content as well as its inherent narrative and referential richness. FAMILY STORIES represents a journey into complex racial/ethnic identity issues which are so strongly identified with the United States because of this country's complex history of immigration and slavery.

Anna Rubin composers instrumental and computer-generated music. Her work has been performed internationally and she is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (1988, 1994) and commissions from the New York Council for the Arts, New American Radio, WNYC Radio, and such performers as Thomas Buckner, F. Gerard Errante and Isabelle Ganz. Her work is recorded on the Neuma, Sony and SEAMUS labels and she is published by Leisure Planet. She is currently on the composition faculty of Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.

Laurie Hollander composes computer-generated music. She has studied at both Princeton and Yale Universities. Recent performances have occurred at the SCAN Festival (Small Computers in the Arts), Franklin Institute of Philadelphia; Yale School of Music; Concordia University Electro-Acoustic Series, Montreal; SEAMUS (Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States) Conference, Dartmouth; Princeton University, and in Berlin.

Aquasphere (10:22) - Elizabeth Faw Hayden Pizer

Aquasphere (10:22) - Elizabeth Faw Hayden Pizer

Aquasphere was composed in 1990. Much like an aquatic world, it is built upon multiple layers and textures -- in this case, translated into sounds and musical motifs. Although not a "minimalist" work, Aquasphere does utilize several repetitive motifs which suggest the ebbing and flowing of the tide. And certain effects are employed that simulate various sounds of the sea.

Aquasphere received its premiere performance at Abilene Christian University (Abilene, TX), and has subsequently been featured during the Electric Mountain Music Festival held at Central Wyoming College, the 1994 Bates New Music Festival at Bates College (Lewiston, ME) and the 1995 National Conference of SEAMUS (Society of Electro-Acoustic Music in the U.S.) held at Ithaca College (Ithaca, NY).

Aquasphere was realized and recorded in the Pizers' home studio utilizing the following equipment: Yamaha Clavinova electronic piano (controlling keyboard), two Kawai K-1m synthesizer modules, Kurzweil K-1000 keyboard synthesizer, Yamaha EMT-10 synthesizer module, Kawai MX-8R mixer, Alesis Quadraverb sound processor, and Macintosh computer with Mark of the Unicorn Performer sequencer software (plus Sony DAT recorder).

Elizabeth Faw Haydn Pizer is a composer, pianist, music journalist and archivist. Her musical compositions have been performed and broadcast throughout the U.S. and overseas, including New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Memphis, Baton Rouge, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, England, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Holland, Mexico, Australia, and Brazil.

Recent events include: Elegy in Amber (In Memorium Leonard Bernstein) released on CD by MMC Recordings, and performed by the Dayton Philharmonic, St. Paul Civic Symphony, Macalester College Symphony, and Ohio University Symphony, and scheduled for performance by Iowa State University Symphony; Elegy for Strings performed by the Lowell Philharmonic; Expressions Intimes broadcast on WGBH-Boston, WCNY-Syracuse, and 4MBS in Australia; and Madrigals Anon performed on southeastern U.S. tour by the Kenyon College Chamber Singers and scheduled for performance by New Mexico Pro Coro. Pizer's biography appears in the recently published The New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers.

Tech Support (6:46) - Kristi McGarity

Tech Support (6:46) - Kristi McGarity

Tech Support is a musical poem set to the sounds of various office machines. The narrator in this recording is Craig Clark, with additional voices by Carlos Barrón and Kristi McGarity.

Kristi McGarity is a graduate student in music composition with a background in both acoustic and electronic media. While growing up in Austin, she studied oboe with Beth Sanders, and went on to earn a degree in oboe performance from the University of Michigan under the tutelage of Harry Sargous. In Ann Arbor, she wrote and produced an album of electronic dance music under the name Opposite Day, which resulted in a number one regional radio hit. Kristi has since returned to Austin to seek a Master of Music degree from the University of Texas, where she studies composition with Russell Pinkston and Donald Grantham. She free-lances as a performing oboist, and has played with the UT New Music Ensemble under the direction of Dan Welcher. Her teaching experience includes electronic music classes at Austin Community College and a full studio of oboe students. Kristi is an active member of SCI (Society of Composers, Inc.), TCMN (Texas Computer Musicians Network), and SEAMUS (Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States.) Recently, her work "AM Fugue" for violin and tape was selected for performance at both the 1999 SEAMUS National Conference and the 1999 SCI National Conference.

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