CD 1 Program Notes CD 1 - Audience Favorites
Part Three: The CDs
Emergent Music And Visual Music: Inside Studies
Ronald A. Pellegrino

Please note that as of 10/25/10 this and the other 7 CD pages on my site will include one sound sample and its associated program note, all the track titles for the particular CD, and an excerpt from the essay associated with the CD desciption found in my latest book, Realizing Electronic Dreams: A Composer's Notes and Themes. The new book includes complete essays for each CD plus detailed program notes for every track on every CD as well as numerous related photographs and illustrations.

If you do not have a good quality satellite sound system connected to the audio output of your computer, as the composer I would prefer that you NOT download the sound samples. My pieces are like my spirit children and I don't want them to be treated badly by inadequate transducers. It's already bad enough that the sound samples are compressed versions (a current internet requirement) of what you would hear from the CDs which are in themselves digitized (distorted) versions of the analog sounds as I heard them originally. To navigate those shoals I test and adjust all my sound samples on 7 different audio systems and 3 different computers in my personal studios and scores of audio and computer systems out in the field. In a nutshell, what I've found is that all built-in computer sound systems STINK and should never be used for music. If you are more than half-serious about music, connect at least a good audio system to your computer. The better the audio system, the richer and deeper your musical experience, and the closer to hearing the music as the composer did.

Furthermore, please remember that the sound samples are just samples--not highlights, not the pieces, just out of context highly compressed excerpts that hang together in ways that give a sense of what one might expect to hear from various tracks. It's important to get beyond confusing the samples for the pieces. If you are at all interested in the quality of music, listening to a CD via a good audio system gets your ears reasonably close to the original music. In any case, avoid settling for dumbed down audio. The difference between even a decent satellite audio system hanging on the end of a computer and what you would hear from a good standalone audio system is like the difference between night and day. Often I hear from young people who've grown up with buds in the ears that they doubt they could hear the difference between mediocre and good audio. My response to them is that now is a good time to educate your ear so you can have a lifelong deeper appreciation of the power and beauty of sound to affect your soul. Much is lost when music is considered no more than a commodity to be squeezed into smaller and smaller storage spaces. Go for the systems that can handle bigger files; they tell better stories.


CD 1 - Audience Favorites

Excerpt from associated essay, Personal Studies

"CD 1 - Audience Favorites is composed of a never-before-now-published collection of 12 pieces that have been field tested in hundreds of concerts and radio and television broadcasts in North America, South America and Europe. Of the numerous pieces showcased in those events, this collection emerges as audience favorites. That anyone actually likes my music is always a pleasant surprise; that’s because my compositions tend to be a bit on the esoteric side, mainly personal studies that take the forms of answers to questions I pose to myself about instruments, mechanical or organic systems, feelings of the moment, dream states, or future projections.

I never compose pieces for the approval of audiences but I always expect to test them on audiences, to test whether my answers to my questions have forms that communicate beyond my own circumscribed world. Of course I’m pleased when they do communicate, but I’m just as pleased when they don’t, because that always stimulates a search for answers to questions about the nature of musical communication. Why was I moved and they weren’t? Will more of them eventually be moved? What was I thinking musically that they couldn’t follow? Does it make any difference? Should I make adjustments? And if so, what sorts of adjustments? Why are some people always irritated by challenges of any kind, particularly in the arts? And so on with the questions. It’s just one more form of mental gymnastics.

Unlike most composers, until the past few years, I never felt compelled to publish my work in any of the traditional recorded forms—scores, vinyl, tapes, CDs, DVDs, etc. There were a number of reasons for my position. One was that I was making a living doing live performances and I wanted to present only my latest work without feeling pressured to include pieces people knew from recordings. Another was connected with the physical, almost mystical notion of experiencing sound, once excited, being free to move in a variety of ways—to bounce off some obstacles in directions determined by the angle of incidence, to induce some obstacles to resonate and to produce their own sounds thus adding their signature to the mix, to curve around some obstacles, to be absorbed more or less by other obstacles, to fall on the ears of fellow performers to influence what music might come out of them, and to be there in person to sense the music of my fellows as well as the feedback from the audience. Plus I am as intrigued with and excited about performance spaces as I am the art processes and people who fill those spaces. So, for the most part, beginning in the late 1960s I chose as a composer to continue my history as a performer and to integrate that history with all that I discover about composition in a lifetime of studying all facets of music and closely allied fields in the dynamic arts, science, and affordable emerging technology…"


Track Titles for CD 1 - Audience Favorites
plus program note and sound sample for Track 6

Track 1, Cloud 7 (1987)
Track 2, Alpha Strings (1985)
Track 3, Milwaukee River (1967)
Track 4, Score to Too (1971)
Track 5, Laser Seraphim - Slow (1987)

Track 6, Laser Seraphim - Fast (1987). In my public presentations of laser animations this piece is usually followed Laser Seraphim - Slow. The two pieces were invitations for my cyberspirit pals to come play with me in public; if the conditions were right, they did. But, as might be expected, mostly just the sensitives in the audience picked up on it. The laser animation designs that I've used since 1975 actually have their roots in the work I did in oscillographics beginning in 1967. The oscillographic work led to the Lissajous Lives series of films I did in the early to mid 1970s and, except for music composition and physics class demonstrations, pretty much ended when I assembled the laser system in 1975.
When I designed a portable laser animation/projection system for research and road shows I found myself building my performance instrument designs on the foundation of the knowledge and experience acquired through my eight years of previous work with music synthesizer-driven oscillographics. However there are major differences between the two visual worlds they create because the oscilloscope is electrostatic (virtually without a signature) and the laser animator is electromechanical (marked by a unique signature). “Signatures” are caused by inherent nonlinearities in the transducers, the translation systems.

In terms of expense and tedium there was a significant level of resistance built into creating oscillographic films whereas the live nature and instant feedback of the laser animator invited extended play and experimentation. In the final analysis there wasn't much of contest between oscillographic films and laser animations; so the laser system quickly took over my visual music research and composition work with Lissajous figures, although the oscilloscope still figured prominently in my electronic music, computer music, and psychophysics classroom teaching and public demonstrations.

Along with a strong predilection for real time composition I also found myself in the mid 1970s being influenced by what I was discovering about the classical Indian compositional approach based on the notion of ragas — the idea that, over a period of many years, a musician evolves to higher levels by studying, refining, and mastering collections of melodies, rhythms, scales, and inflections so as to be prepared to use them compositionally on-the-fly according to the requirements of the moment including the place, the nature of the audience, the occasion, the time of the day and year, etc. What I discovered was that the classical Indian approach was one and the same as what I had intuitively been developing since my early teens and that all the traditional education required by my academic degrees in music had not undermined that perspective one iota. I was lucky; I survived 20 years of intense cultural programming with my experimental tendencies still intact.

The raga approach to composition was a perfect fit for my work with laser animation. Over the decades I've performed the laser system in ensemble with other musicians, other light artists, and dancers. But since 1985 the majority of my laser performances have been with my own music and this is where the Laser Seraphim set of pieces comes into play in my public events. The title includes the word seraphim because I've often had the sense that cyberspirits, sometimes angelic, come to play through the medium of complex interactive electronic sets of wavetrains. My laser ragas are designed to create openings for the seraphim to enter and play. The openings are complex finely tuned music synthesizer designs that generate stereo wavetrains with just the right balance of ebb and flow involving frequency ratios, frequency modulation, amplitude modulation, waveshape modulation, ring modulation, phase modulation, and signal mix.

The music on this track emerges from my experiments with synthesizer orchestra design and the idea of melodically floating around in a sonic playfield (definitely one of my favorite musical amusements). I've used this music so often with a particular set of laser images that hearing the music always brings the image raga to my mind's eye. Sound Sample

Track 7, Glasssongs (1983)
Track 8, Cynthia's Dream Straight (1981)
Track 9, Cynthia's Dream Evolved (1990)
Track 10, Cymatic Sail (1982)
Track 11, Soft Candy (1989)
Track 12, S&H Explorations (1972)

To view selected sections of Emergent Music And Visual Music: Inside Studies, Part 1: The Book, click on one of the following:
Chapter 1, Emergent Music
Chapter 15, Visual Music Flavors

Information on Part 2: The DVDs.

Click Here to buy this CD or other parts of Pellegrino's projects.


©1996-2010 Ron Pellegrino and Electronic Arts Productions. All rights reserved.