This piece is a composer´s statement I wrote for my participation in the New Music America: a festival organized by Walker Art Center, on June 7-15, 1980 in Minneapolis. The festival involved over 70 American composer/performers working in the realm of new and experimental music. As I look at that list of composer/performers today in October of 1996, the vast majority are still out there working the field; a number of them have achieved near-pop status -- Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich.
For me 1980 was in the middle of a ten-year period of extensive touring here and abroad for performances and public events that focused on my real-time composition work in performance multimedia. In 1980 I was also on the faculty of Texas Tech University in Lubbock teaching composition and directing the Leading Edge Music Series, a project I founded that brought up to seven experimental composer/performers a year to Lubbock for seminars, workshops, TV and radio appearances, and public concerts. My emphasis on real-time composition during that period was very strong. All my students from freshmen to doctoral students were involved in one way or another with the Real-Time Composition Band, a group that played as the warm-up band for all the concerts in the Leading Edge Music Series. The band also broke into smaller units for special pieces, special events, and touring in Texas.
What follows is exactly as it appears in the Walker Art Center catalog, New Music America: A festival organized by Walker Art Center.
Beyond static logic, sound and light waves carry messages of the spirit and the worlds beyond surface physics. Real-time composition has the form of a multidimensional matrix that functions as a channel for the other worlds to communicate with the physical world. The basis for that communication is resonance, a dynamic state of being which occurs in a system when it is excited by an external stimulus with coincidental wave characteristics. Waves are the glue of life, the means for all communication. Waves coexist with other waves by forming higher order complex waves carrying the complete history of all encounters and interactions. All resultant wave structures are eternally ephemeral. Their full significance is sensed without the aid of established linguistic systems other than intuitive symbolic analogues of ancient archetypal truths.
At the center of the sphere of the electronic arts is the notion of the synthesizer as a wave instrument, an instrument that generates, controls, and transforms electrical waves in modes analogous to much that we know intuitively, psychologically, and scientifically of the world of living phenomena. Harmonic forces, that is, periodic oscillations that have integral multiple relationships, give shape to our experience by providing easily recognizable references. The references are basic to the notions of tension, arrival, and release which are fundamental to all dynamic art. The references are also basic to birth, growth, maturation, decay and rebirth, fundamental processes for all living forms.
Once a fundamental is established, harmonic relationships create a powerful living system. Harmonic phenomena generate a set of conditions which provide openings for outside forces to come into play. The composer/performer is free to participate in the game of waves, the game of composing a hierarchy of perceptual functions and gravitational insistences generated by harmonic phenomena and dynamic wave transformational relationships.
The electronic arts of sound and light grow out of a creative approach to complex systems design. The basic system is a network of temporal events with a recognizable structure, a complex of interactive elements subject to individual changes and changing sets of relationships, an organization consisting of hierarchically and laterally related subsystems. There is no reason to expect designs that produce desirable events in one sensory sphere to produce the same in another. Each receptor system and its associated memory evolved to respond to different ranges and temporal configurations of the vibrational spectrum. Ephemeral Forms: Mother Musing´s Flight Patterns is work, five years in progress [the title was adopted in 1975 whereas the process began in 1967], toward articulating the general design principles for creating equally desirable sound and light form from a single well-tuned patch [the same wave set].
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