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Track listing detail

Klang

Jonty Harrison

  • Year of composition: 1982
  • Duration: 9:00
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: MAFILM, Magyar Rádió
  • ISWC: T9104074080

Stereo

ISRC CAD500014140

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

The title (‘Klang’ is the German for ‘sound’) reflects the onomatopoeic nature of the family of sounds providing the raw material for the piece — sharp, metallic attacks with interesting resonances rich in harmonics. The real starting point for Klang was the discovery (in Denis Smalley’s kitchen!) of two earthenware casseroles, the sounds of which were recorded in the Electroacoustic Music Studio of the University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK) during the summer of 1981. Material of two kinds was recorded — attack/resonance sounds made by tapping the lids on or in the bowls, and continuous rolling sounds made by running the lids around the insides of the bowls. Different pitches resulted from the various combinations of lids and bowls, and different qualities of resonance emerged according to the attack position. The microphones were placed very close to the bowls to maximize the movement within the stereophonic image. Other related material, accumulated over the previous three or four years, was also used. This included both real-world sounds, such as cow-bells, metal rods and aluminum bars, and electronically generated sounds, both analog and digital. The final impetus to compose the piece came in June 1981 when I was invited by János Décsenyi to work in the Electronic Music Studio of Magyar Rádió in Budapest. As studio time would be limited I was advised to take a certain amount of taped material with me; the two weeks prior to the visit were therefore spent in preliminary work in the Electroacoustic Music Studio of The University of Birmingham. Much of the opening two sections of the piece were composed before going to Hungary.

Although continuous, Klang falls into six short, fairly clearly defined sections: Introduction; Development 1: duet; Development 2: interruption of duet and increase in complexity towards the first climax; Development 3: relatively static section; Development 4: proliferation of material from the previous section into glissando structures, build-up to the second (main) climax; and slow release to the final Coda.

The listener can trace the development of the material from raw statements of casserole sounds in the Introduction, through more complex, highly transformed events in the four sections, back to the opening sound-world in the Coda. The most obvious transformation technique is mixing, using multiple but only slightly transposed versions of simple sounds. Besides mixing and transposition with tape recorders and a harmonizer, the main modifications were achieved by filtering and, most important of all, montage. This last technique is the principal means of controlling the timing and rhythmic articulation of the material and its organisation into phrases (which may be a single line or a mix of many layers, edited together into the desired sequence).

[ix-00]


Klang [Timbre] was realized in 1982 in the Electronic Music Studio of Magyar Rádió (HEAR) in Budapest (Hungary) and premiered later that year at the University of Birmingham (UK). The piece was commissioned by MAFILM. It was awarded 2nd prize in the Analogue Category of the 1983 Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Awards (France) and it was awarded a 1992 Euphonie d’or “as one of the twenty most significant works from two decades of the Bourges Awards.” Thanks to János Décsenyi. It has been performed and broadcast in many parts of the world, including at the 1984 ISCM World Music Days in Toronto (Canada). Klang has been previously released in 1984 on the UEA label (UEA 84099) and in 1996 on the NMC label (NMC D035).


Premiere

  • December 7, 1982, Concert, Elgar Concert Room — Faculty of Arts Building — University of Birmingham, Birmingham (England, UK)

Awards

Preparation

Composition

Sorties

Jonty Harrison

  • Year of composition: 1995
  • Duration: 15:14
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: BBC, Birmingham City Council
  • ISWC: T9104035736

Stereo

ISRC CAD500014150

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

Sorties (Exit) was composed as part of Web, a collaboration between seven BEAST (Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre) composers and graphic artist Lorne Christie. Web was a ‘sound sculpture’ — a walk-through installation in an open-sided canal-side warehouse. The work as a whole evoked images of the elements (air, earth, fire and water) and of a journey — enhanced by the movement of the audience through a continuously varying visual and sonic landscape.

This idea of traveling from one sonic location to another underpins the evolution of Sorties which, as well as forming part of Web, was designed as an independent work. The title has two meanings: firstly ‘sorties’ is a term used by air forces for missions, usually over enemy territory. Whether the aircrew will return home from such an operation is, by definition, in doubt. The second meaning is manifest in the dominant sound image of the work: that of leaving (exiting, escaping, fleeing) an interior space for an exterior one, only to find that one is mysteriously and inevitably trapped once again in another ‘interior.’ The ultimate impossibility of escape may thus account for the predominantly dark and brooding atmosphere of the work.

[ix-00]


Sorties was realized in 1995 in the Electroacoustic Music Studios of the University of Birmingham (UK) and premiered at the Bond Gallery in Birmingham (UK) during the performance of Web on May 26, 1995 during the Music Live ’95 Festival organized by the BBC. Web was commissioned by the BBC and Birmingham City Council. Sorties was awarded a Prize in the Programme Music Category of the 1996 Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Awards (France).


Premiere

  • May 26, 1995, Web, Bond Gallery, Birmingham (England, UK)

Awards

Composition

Surface Tension

Jonty Harrison

  • Year of composition: 1996
  • Duration: 13:01
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: IMEB
  • ISWC: T9247804111

Stereo

ISRC CAD500014160

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

Strictly speaking, surface tension is the phenomenon exhibited by liquids which permits heavy objects to float and enables some insects to ‘walk on water.’ My Surface Tension, however, is based not on water sounds but on dry, brittle sound material derived, quite literally, from rubbish. This paradox is only one of several through and around which this piece weaves a meandering path: it utilizes sounds from packing materials (rather than from what is packaged) — styrofoam, polyethylene sheets and bubble-wrap — ironically, and most significantly, the packaging from a supposedly environmentally-friendly refrigerator; it attempts to reveal ‘beauty’ in what is normally thrown away without a second thought; it tries to find an organic sonic logic from predominantly inorganic material sources; it assembles these according to their ‘sonic surface’ (the particular features of the individual sound objects), yet by doing so creates a musical flow which requires one to listen ‘inside’ the sound, just ‘below’ the surface, getting ‘under the skin’ of the sources’ generally similar natures.

[ix-00]


Surface Tension was realized in the Charybde and Circé studios of the Institut international de musique électroacoustique de Bourges (IMEB, France), and in the Electroacoustic Music Studios of the University of Birmingham (UK) and premiered on May 30, 1997 at Palais Jacques-Cœur during the Synthèse Festival (Bourges, France). The piece was commissioned by the Institut international de musique électroacoustique de Bourges (IMEB, France)


Premiere

  • May 30, 1997, Synthèse 1997: Concert, Palais Jacques-Cœur, Bourges (Cher, France)

Composition

Splintering

Jonty Harrison

  • Year of composition: 1997
  • Duration: 19:51
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: French State (Music Office), Ina-GRM
  • ISWC: T9247804100

Stereo

ISRC CAD500014170

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

To my parents

Wood: a rich and fascinating sound source, here recorded in a variety of indoor and outdoor environments, and transformed using digital signal processing techniques. This work is concerned with parallel and complementary sound images of wood undergoing various processes of splintering, both naturally occurring (splitting, fragmenting, being chopped and trodden underfoot) and virtual/artificial (particularly shuffling and granulation processing in the time domain). In addition, the splintering of sound images in space (left/right; close/distant) is a fundamental issue in this work, as it is in the composition and performance of much acousmatic music.

Wood: organic material used throughout history in all kinds of ways and now being ruthlessly exploited in a negative manner, wholesale clearing of large areas of rain forest leaving the planet unable to renew life-sustaining resources. The balance of the environment itself is, consequently, splintering.

Wood: the place of the imagination, where wicked things lurk and strange things happen — not only where wolves pose as grandmothers, but where a prince meets a young girl (whose origins we never learn) weeping by the water; where a hero slays a dragon and, by tasting its blood, is able to understand birdsong; where a woman searches for the lover she may have killed — or is it merely a manifestation of the ‘deep forest’ of one’s own subconscious?

When wood is attacked it splinters. Splinters are dangerous — they retaliate! We have been warned.

[ix-00]


Splintering was realized in the Electroacoustic Music Studios of the University of Birmingham (UK) and premiered on June 1, 1997 in the Salle Olivier Messiaen of the Maison de Radio France (Paris, France). The piece was commissioned by the French State (Music Office) and the Ina-GRM (Paris).


Premiere

  • June 1, 1997, Son-Mu 97: Concert, Salle Olivier Messiaen — Maison de Radio France, Paris (France)

Composition

Streams

Jonty Harrison

  • Year of composition: 1999
  • Duration: 16:11
  • Instrumentation: 8-channel fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Sonorities Festival with support from the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
  • ISWC: T9247804053

Stereo

ISRC CAD500014180

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

The image evoked most immediately is, of course, that of water — turbulent, troubled, restless, at the mercy of wind and terrain, flowing onward to the sea — itself turbulent and in constant motion. Evaporation, clouds and rainfall complete the cycle which is always renewing, always moving…

The primary sound sources for Streams are drawn from the turbulent points of confluence of water, earth and air (liquid, solid, gas): river, sea-shore and rainfall. This gives rise to behaviour such as trickling, bubbling, pattering (like drums? Listen out for a mysterious Irish visitor!) and the overriding rise and fall of perpetual wave motion, which seems to have become a model for the structure of the whole piece…

Streams of data, of consciousness and, most importantly, of perception — the ability to link often disparate elements together and to understand, to ‘hear,’ that they are part of one line, one ‘stream of thought,’ distinct from other (possibly coexisting) parallel or contrapuntal streams. The multichannel medium (which I used here for the first time in a work for tape alone) assists in the streaming processes, and also emphasizes the agitation of relentless motion…

[xi-00]


Streams was realized in 1999 in the Electroacoustic Music Studios of the University of Birmingham (UK) and premiered on May 4, 1999 in Queen’s University’s Harty Room during the Sonorities Festival (Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK). The piece was commissioned by the Sonorities Festival with funds from the National Lottery and Sonorities. •• Streams is the work #4 of 4 that make up ReCycle which premiered in its complete form on May 25, 2007 during the Klangfest festival produced by BEAST at the CBSO Centre in Birmingham (UK).


Premiere

  • May 4, 1999, Concert, Harty Room — Music Building — Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast (Northern Ireland, UK)

Composition