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Détail des pistes

Collage #1 (“Blue Suede”)

James Tenney

  • Année de composition: 1961
  • Durée: 3:22
  • Instrumentation: support stéréo

Stéréo

Ce texte n’est pas disponible en français.

Collage #1 (“Blue Suede”), based on Elvis Presley’s version of Blue Suede Shoes was realized at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, in the electronic music studio established by Lejaren Hiller. It has long been considered something of a classic of American musique concrète.

[source: ART 1007]


Collage #1 (“Blue Suede”) was first released on Musicworks #36 cassette. The recording on the CD Selected Works 1961-1969, Artifact Recordings, ART 1007, is a new digital remastering of the original analog master.

Analog #1 (Noise Study)

James Tenney

  • Année de composition: 1961
  • Durée: 4:23

Stéréo

Ce texte n’est pas disponible en français.

Analog #1 (Noise Study), Tenney’s first piece at Bell Labs, was inspired by the daily journey between New Jersey and Manhattan, through the Holland Tunnel and heavy New York traffic. Technical note: Noise Study was originally released on Decca DL9103, Music from Mathematics.

[source: ART 1007]


The version on the CD Selected Works 1961-1969, Artifact Recordings, ART 1007, is digitally reconstructed and remastered from the original analog tapes.

Dialogue

James Tenney

  • Année de composition: 1963
  • Durée: 4:08

Stéréo

Ce texte n’est pas disponible en français.

Dialogue grew out of programs Tenney wrote for a set of pieces called Five Stochastic Studies, which, along with some studies in timbre, occupied his time at Bell Labs from 1961-63. Dialogue uses stochastic control over timbral, durational and pitch parameters. It was the first piece by Tenney which made use of the computer in determining hierarchical features, and in making stochastic decisions regarding the given statistics of musical parameters for various sections. In other words, the software is responsible for larger-level formal decisions as well as small-level event values, specifying the mean and range of musical parameters over long sections. The piece is a dialogue between noise and tones. By stochastically specifying the statistical trajectories of these two types of sounds, Tenney creates a constant shifting of emphasis between them.

[source: ART 1007]


The version on the CD Selected Works 1961-1969, Artifact Recordings, ART 1007, was digitally remixed and remastered from the original analog tape.

Phases (for Edgard Varèse)

James Tenney

  • Année de composition: 1963
  • Durée: 12:20

Stéréo

Ce texte n’est pas disponible en français.

Between the completion of Dialogue and Phases (for Edgard Varèse), Tenney realized another piece, Ergodos I (1963; the later Ergodos II (for John Cage) is included on this CD), in which he experimented with the use of statistical formal processes to create an ergodic, or static musical form, one in which the statistics and probabilities of given parameters were fixed for long periods of time. With Phases, Tenney returned to the use of trajectories for means and ranges of parametric values, including note duration, amplitude, amplitude modulation rate and filter bandwidth, and the upper limit of frequency spectra. The shape of change for each parameter is sinusoidal, but the sinusoids are of different frequencies and phases, so that a kind of formal counterpoint is heard between the salient musical parameters of the work. Phases also incorporates some significant timbral and formal extensions to Tenney’s own compositional software. By using a more continuous range of modulation values, the distinction between noise and pitch (used so effectively in Dialogue) is blurred. In Phases, the computer makes statistical decisions at three levels: the clang level (groups of lowest level events), the sequence level (groups of clangs), and the segment level (groups of sequences). In this work, Tenney is using the computer to help create a highly complex structure. In The Early Works of James Tenney, I said that Phases is the most beautiful and interesting of the works of this period. It is impossible to describe the ungainly, almost other-worldly effect that it has, but it often seems as if it were not composed by either man or machine, but by some goblin-hybrid of the two. It remains, as well, one of the strangest and least accessible of Tenney’s compositions, as it seems to exist for its own purposes entirely. It now seems to me that much of Tenney’s extraordinary recent instrumental music (Bridge, Changes, Rune, and other works) has a great deal in common, aesthetically and formally, with this important early work, especially in the uncompromising sonorities and almost mystical adherence to simple formal principles that generate complex and surprising musics.

[source: ART 1007]


Phases (for Edgard Varèse) was first released on Musicworks #27 cassette. The version on the CD Selected Works 1961-1969, Artifact Recordings, ART 1007, was digitally remastered from the original analog tapes.

Music for Player Piano

James Tenney

  • Année de composition: 1963-64
  • Durée: 5:48

Stéréo

Ce texte n’est pas disponible en français.

Tenney was one of the first composers to actively champion the player-piano music of Conlon Nancarrow, and indeed, wrote the first extended critical study of Nancarrow’s work. However, Music for Player Piano preceded any real knowledge of Nancarrow’s music. In this piece, which is actually one short piece realized in four orientations, Tenney made use of the same types of computer-generated stochastic decision-making processes that were used in pieces like Dialogue, Phases, and so on. In the Music for Player Piano, the computer only specifies values for pitch, duration, and event density. The result of the computer’s compositional process was then punched onto a piano roll, to be played in four orientations: forward, backward (retrograde), upside-down (inversion), and upside-down and backward (retrograde inversion). The order on this recording is: original, retrograde inversion, inversion, retrograde, so that the piece is a palindrome, or mirror image of itself.

[source: ART 1007]


À propos de cet enregistrement

This recording was made by John Oswald and Marvin Green in the early 1980s, in Toronto (Canada), using PCM digital recording technology. We are grateful to these two composers for allowing us to use their fine recording.

Fixation

  • John Oswald; Marvin Green • Toronto (Ontario, Canada)

Ergodos II (for John Cage)

James Tenney

  • Année de composition: 1964
  • Durée: 18:24

Stéréo

Ce texte n’est pas disponible en français.

Ergodos II (for John Cage) was Tenney’s last work at Bell Labs, and it is a fitting, zen-like conclusion to the nature of his formal and aesthetic investigations (from Polansky, The Early Works…). The piece is indeterminate in form. It consists of one tape, 18 minutes long, that may be played in either direction (that is, all the sounds could be heard in their reverse directions). Or, the tape might be subdivided into two or more segments of approximately equal length, and these segments played simultaneously (over one to N pair of loudspeakers, for the N segments) (from Tenney, Computer Music Experiences…). This was the first piece Tenney did at Bell Labs that employed the stereo capability Mathews had just added to Music IV. The instruments [that is, the computer-designed software instruments] and algorithms are almost identical to Phases, and Ergodos II has the same rich and beautiful quality, but there is finally complete ergodicity. There is, in any way that we might reasonably define it, no form. (from Polansky, The Early Works…) The arrangement on this recording is the 18-minute form. Listeners are encouraged to make their own performance versions.

[source: ART 1007]


The version on the CD Selected Works 1961-1969, Artifact Recordings, ART 1007, was digitally remastered from the original analog master.

Fabric for Ché

James Tenney

  • Année de composition: 1967
  • Durée: 9:50

Stéréo

Ce texte n’est pas disponible en français.

Fabric for Ché was realized at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, using taped sequences originally generated at Bell Labs. It was, to a great extent, influenced by the political and social upheaval of the time, and I have often heard the piece as an angry, beautiful shout. Tenney has said it was an attempt to create a continuous sonic event with no beginning and no end. Like much of his other music, he describes the whole piece conceived as consisting of but a single sound, more or less complexly modulated (from The Early Works…). It is surprising to hear it today, with its many-faceted sonic relationships: to the music of Xenakis, to works of composers using techniques like granular synthesis, and even more appropriate perhaps, to industrial noise music of the 1970s and 1980s. The piece is, like Music for Player Piano, a palindrome (like some of the music of Carl Ruggles, which has been so influential for Tenney): the second half is simply the reverse of the first.

[source: ART 1007]


The recording on the CD Selected Works 1961-1969, Artifact Recordings, ART 1007, was digitally remastered and reconstructed from the original analog master.

For Ann (rising)

James Tenney

  • Année de composition: 1969
  • Durée: 11:47
  • Instrumentation: support

Stéréo

Ce texte n’est pas disponible en français.

For Ann (rising) was the last electronic work Tenney wrote before leaving New York City for California, and subsequently Toronto (where he now lives). In fact, to this date, it is his last electronic piece (with the exception of some works involving live performers and delay system, and a very recent text piece, edited and created with the help of a computer music-editing workstation). Many people associate Tenney most closely with this work, for it seems to embody the most essential aspects of his aesthetic: clear, predictable formal procedures; a lack of any kind of narrative structure; a deep interest in acoustical phenomena and their musical and formal manifestations; a sense of humor. For Ann (rising) is based on a set of continuously rising tones, similar to the acoustic illusion sometimes called a Shepard-tone (named after the pioneering experimental psychologist Roger Shepard, a colleague of Tenney’s at Bell Labs). The process is simple: each glissando, separated by some fixed time interval, fades in from it’s lowest note, and fades out as it nears the top of it’s audible range. It is nearly impossible to follow, aurally, the path of any given glissando, so the effect is that the individual tones never reach their highest pitch. For Ann (rising) has at various times been called a classic of American minimalism, process music, or conceptual music. Whatever it is, it clearly represents a landmark in Tenney’s own compositional output, which like the piece, has continued to develop (rise), seemingly without any conceptual end in sight.

[source: ART 1007]


The original analog recording of For Ann (rising) was first released on Musicworks #27 cassette. It was later remastered by Tom Erbe, and appeared on Ear Magazine’s Absolut Music CD #3. The version on this recording on the CD Selected Works 1961-1969, Artifact Recordings, ART 1007, was regenerated by Tom Erbe using Barry Vercoe’s CSound composition and synthesis language, according to Tenney’s specifications.