RUSH HOUR (1997–2017) is the culmination of my twenty years of study and exploration of the ever-evolving genre of electro-acoustic music (i.e., computer music, acousmatic, fixed media, etc.). This compilation represents the work that I am most proud of and that I think audiences will find most enjoyable. It is not arranged chronologically, however, each track compliments the next and leads the listener toward the final climax of the title work.
For listeners interested in reading a more in-depth description of my work, please continue scrolling.
Thank you and enjoy.
I would like to thank my wonderful wife, Robin, for her loving support, and my friends and colleagues for their creative insight and helpful editing suggestions. I would especially like to thank John Perrine, Laura Usiskin, Jeremy Grall, and James Bevelle for their patience and valued expertise.
This project was funded in part by a University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) College of Arts and Humanities Dean’s Faculty Development Grant and by the UAB Department of Music, Birmingham, Alabama.
Trope No. 3. Brushstroke: A Gradient Collapse, and its companion piece, Triptych: Three Studies in Gesture and Noise, were both inspired by the abstract paintings of Gerhard Richter and Francis Bacon. Brushstroke suggests the initial contact of a single brushstroke against a bare surface and how the paint changes in color and texture over time, while Triptych: Three Studies in Gesture and Noise explores and develops artifacts found in the space between recorded sounds. Triptych is a three-part, cyclical assemblage based primarily on noise, musical remnants, and studio debris. Each part focuses on two to three main gestures: Part I uses as its source material sounds usually associated with the pre-concert ritual (warming up, tuning, moving stands, and the scrape of a piano bench sliding across a stage floor); Part II unfolds slowly and juxtaposes long, high-pitched granular threads with low-pitched glissandi, all of which were extracted from the previous bench scrape; and Part III focuses on sculpted noise, sweeping gestures, and extreme changes in timbre and texture. Brushtroke and Triptych were both composed and assembled in the composer’s home studio in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2015. Triptych was first released by Ablaze Records in 2016 on Electronic Masters, Vol. 4.
2 Days in the Tank and A Crime of Passion were influenced by two separate literary sources, the poetry of Charles Bukowski and James Joyce, respectively. Both pieces were created using the audio synthesis program CSound, and assembled in the Louisiana State University Music & Art Digital Studios (MAD Studios) in 1999. All of the sounds on 2 Days in the Tank were derived from the dissection and playful manipulation of the title of Bukowski’s poem, The Drunk Tank Judge (1974), while A Crime of Passion uses three main ideas—a guitar glissando, a granulated text stream, and the phrase “Sex is violent”—to reflect James Joyce’s poem Alone (1927).
A milestone in my creative development, Spline (2001) was heavily influenced by various techniques associated with soft ground etching and scratchboard art. The piece focuses on the interruption of the primary narrative through the continuous juxtaposition and/or superimposition of disparate sound media as the primary determinant of its musical form.
Trope No. 1. Surface Tension and Trope No. 2. Saturation Point were both selected as semifinalists in the Art! X Climate 2014/2015 International Sound Art Competition, which was organized by the Center for Experimentation and Research in Electronic Arts at the National University of Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the Red Cross Climate Centre. Surface Tension was selected as one of seven finalists and presented at music festivals and conferences in Argentina, Colombia, and the United States. Both works were both composed using MacPod and Cecilia software.
The fifth installment in a series of works for solo instrument, Sans Titre V for amplified cello was commissioned and premiered by cellist Craig Hultgren in 2006. The work explores contrasts in musical distance and aural proximity; musical distance is achieved through the juxtaposition of tonal and non-tonal materials within a modified strophic- variation form. Throughout the piece, violent interjections and discursive digressions serve as counterpoints to the overarching narrative. For live performances, the use of amplification and sonic effects, such as reverb and delay, are used to reduce the distance between the audience and the performer, and provide an alternate sonic environment (i.e., a space within a space).
Tantric Dreams of a Lotus Blossom was created using Kyma audio software. Almglocken bells, granular guitar streams, and Tuva style drumming were used to create a protracted, single- minded meditation. Tantric Dreams was composed in the LSU MAD Studios in 2000.
Inspired formally by the elliptical orbits associated with long-period comets, WOOSH is divided into two parts: Part One explores abrupt, visceral changes in gestural noise, dynamics, and stereo spatialization, while Part Two focuses on timbral counterpoint and the superimposition of thick, slow- moving, granulated textures. Both parts use a single six-note musical phrase as their source material. Originally performed on a toy saxophone by the composer and recorded using ProTools, the six-note phrase was retuned and then granulated and re-recorded using MacPod granular synthesis software. By varying the size of the grains, the shape of the grain envelope, and the rate and direction at which the sound file is read in real time, the resulting textures were layered in such a way that each sustained note would sound as if it emitted its own interior, yet erratic, rhythmic dialogue. Analogous to the use of a notated grand pause, the ten seconds of silence that separates Parts One and Two is used to provide formal momentum through timbral contrast and dramatic expectation. WOOSH was composed and edited in the composer’s home studio in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2012 and first released by Ablaze Records in 2013 on Electronic Masters, Vol. 2.
Originally composed in 1999, Rush Hour is a semi-dramatic, semi-improvisatory work that was inspired by the idea of the practicing performer and his or her desire for improvisatory perfection. The scenario concerns an aspiring musician who arrives home from a hard day at the (fill-in-the-blank). As the performer settles into his or her practice routine, the sound of traffic becomes ethereal and is eventually incorporated into the music that he or she is practicing. Fantasy becomes a motive to develop. Distorted traffic sounds, radio signals, musical fragments, and the saxophonist’s own sounds become an enriched tapestry of memories, impressions, and influences. John Perrine, for whom the work was written and to whom it was dedicated, was used as the model for the sampling procedures. All of the saxophone sounds on the sound file were derived from recordings of his performances of improvisatory excerpts provided by the composer, which were then extracted and manipulated using various computer programs. The written tenor saxophone part was recorded in March and October 2016 at the UAB Recording Studios. Twenty years in the making, I consider Rush Hour a sonic artifact, a longitudinal sound-study that not only showcases John Perrine’s incredible musicianship but also documents his sublime improvisational abilities and depth of self-expression.
John Perrine is Associate Professor, Coordinator of Jazz Studies and Department Chair at Cleveland State University in Ohio. He has premiered works by Kari Juusela, Aaron Johnson, William Price, Greg D’Allesio, and others. Perrine holds a D.M.A. in Saxophone Performance from Louisiana State University, a M.M. in Jazz Pedagogy from North- western University, and a B.M. in Music Education from Stetson University. His teachers include James Bishop, Fred Hemke, Jonathon Helton, and Griffin Campbell. He has studied jazz with Harold Blanchard, Don Owens, Tony Garcia, and Michael Koucour. Perrine performed the William Bolcom Concert Suite with the Volga Band in Saratov, Russia, and also gave master classes at the Saratov Conservatory, the Rostov On-Don Conservatory, and Moscow State University for Culture and Arts. In addition to his work abroad, Perrine enjoys giving live broadcast recitals with faculty members at CSU on WCLV in Cleveland. He is a founding member of the Red Stick Saxophone Quartet and the Neo-Tessares Saxophone Quartet. The Red Stick Saxophone Quartet won national prizes in both the Music Teachers National Association and Fischoff chamber music competitions, and premiered Perrine’s composition Vonnegut: Suite for Saxophone Quartet at the North American Saxophone Alliance International Convention in Columbia, South Carolina. He has also recently premiered pieces at the World Saxophone Congress at St. Andrews, Scotland. His CD, Dance of the Pampanzi, can be purchased on iTunes and CD Baby. Perrine is a Conn-Selmer Artist/Clinician and a D’Addario Artist/Clinician. For more information, please visit his website: www.johnperrine.com.
Cellist Laura Usiskin has performed throughout North America and Europe in such venues as Alice Tully Hall, Palazzo Chigi Saracini, Weill Hall, Barge Music, and many others. Notable performances include the complete J. S. Bach solo suites in Los Angeles and Connecticut and concertos of Dvoràk and Takemitsu with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra. With a penchant for music both old and new, she performed on Baroque cello with the Yale Baroque Ensemble and has premiered dozens of works as well as commissioned works in her name. Usiskin has held orchestral positions with the New Haven Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, and currently serves as Principal Cello of Orchestra Iowa. She also performs regularly as a founding member of the New York-based Arté Trio. In 2011, Usiskin founded the Montgomery Music Project, an El Sistema strings program for students in Montgomery, Alabama. The program has given intensive string instruction to hundreds of low-income children across three counties. Usiskin resides in Birmingham, Alabama, where she is Adjunct Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Birmingham-Southern College. Through UAB, she founded the series “Chamber Music @ AEIVA,” which presents free concerts connecting music with visual art. Usiskin graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Neuroscience and Behavior from Columbia University, an M.M. from The Juilliard School, and a D.M.A. from the Yale School of Music, where she was awarded the Aldo Parisot Prize. For more information, please visit: www.laurausiskin.com.
Executive Producer: Douglas Knehans
Producer: William Price
Chief Engineer: James Bevelle, UAB Recording Studios, Birmingham, AL, USA
Mastering Engineer: Silas Brown, Legacy Mastering, Westchester, NY, USA
Design: Josephine McLachlan
Liner Notes: William Price; edited by Jeremy Grall
Sans Titre V was commissioned and premiered by Craig Hultgren in 2006, and published by Conners Publications, Natchitoches, LA, USA.
All music published by IROM Music Publishing, except for Sans Titre V.
All Rights Reserved.