Album Notes


Lovely Little Records

John Bischoff (VR 101)
Side A: Silhouette (6:00)
John Bischoff, Automobile recordings, oscillators
Mixing Engineer, "Blue" Gene Tyranny
Mixed at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College. Oakland, CA. 10 March 1979.
© 1980, John Bischoff

I have listened to and like motor sounds of various kinds for some time. They seem to have a resonance constantly interrupted and renewed by the workings of the engine, conveying a sense of internal regeneration. For Silhouette, I made four recordings of my car repeatedly driving the identical route through a square-blocked sectionof San Francisco. After superimposing the four recorded tracks together, I followed the perceived pitch of the car motor on each track by manually tuning a squarewave oscillator. In mixing the piece, "Blue" Gene and I tried to clarify the parts without substantially changing the nature of the recorded sounds.

Side B: The League of Automatic Music Composers: Recording, December 17, 1978 (8:46)
Four computers programmed by David Behrman, John Bischoff, Rich Gold, and Jim Horton
Recording, Jim Hockenhall
Mixing Engineer, "Blue" Gene Tyranny
Recorded 17 December 1978
Mixed at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College. Oakland, CA.
© 1980, John Bischoff

The League of Automatic Music Composers makes music collaboratively by forming microcomputer networks. The particular network for this recording was developed by the four composers for a concert at The Blind Lemon, Berkeley CA, in November 1978: each composer independently created a music program for his own microcomputer; we then mutually designed ways to interconnect our computers, and modified our programs to enable them to send data back and forth. The musical nature of each data exchange varied from connection to connection. Some characteristics of such a musical network are described in an article by John Bischoff, Rich Gold and Jim Horton: Computer Music Journal vol II no 3.:

"When the elements of the network are not connected the music sounds like three completely independent processes, but when they are interconnected, the music seems to present a 'mindlike' aspect. Why this is so or why we can perceive some but not all activities as the product of an artificial intelligence is not understood.

"The structure of a circular system satisfies the desire for a symmetrical interactive network where the flow of influence emanates evenly from each point in the system.

"Though a single computer, micro or macro, is regal in nature with its hierarchy of registers, a network of them isn't necessarily."

Paul DeMarinis (VR 102)
Side A: If God Were Alive (& He Is) You Could Reach Him By Telephone (7:15)
Anne Klingensmith, voice.
Mixed at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College. Oakland, CA. 28 December 1978.
© 1980, Paul DeMarinis

This is the first of Three Songs for Voice, Synthetic Voice, and Small Instruments. The notion of hemispheric separation of musical and verbal auditory worlds seems to me simplistic and probably oppressive, but the related idea of the bicameral mind is rich with associations. The oracles of ancient times (individuals caught in a computational dilemma) have their counterparts today not in lunatics but in the messengers and delivery people who move through the commercial districts of our cities controlled by pocket pagers, wearing tiny earphones, taking orders from above. If God... puts the performer into this situation. In performance Anne Klingensmith wears headphones which convey to her left ear pitches from a Pygmy Gamelan and an attuned tamboura, and to her right ear a spelled text (a story). Her task is to combine these elements into a song. She has never heard the story in any other form, and the pitch sequences are ever-changing. Anne says this is an exhausting piece to perform, and I believe her. In this recorded version we put down three voice tracks, each a separate performance (she did not hear previous takes on subsequent overdubs) with the coincidences resulting from the text. The pitch and spelling tracks lead the voice a little, just for the sake of entrances.

Special thanks to David Behrman, Steven Hebert, Maggi Payne.

Side B: Forest Booties (10:45)
Mixed at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College. Oakland, CA.
© 1980, Paul DeMarinis

Forest Booties is a performance setting of The Pygmy Gamelan, an electronic circuit piece I designed in 1973 for an environmental installation. Each Pygmy Gamelan is a self-contained module measuring 4-by-7 inches which responds to fluctuations in the ambient electrical field (caused by people moving around, radio transmissions, the births of distant stars and galaxies) by improvising around two short melodic phrases that are uniquely its own. My original idea was to make a replacement for the car radio, so the electronic components are all inexpensive surplus items originally intended for use in consumer appliances. For this reason, and because of its numerous references to "ethnic" musics, the Pygmy Gamelan may be seen, like the numerous artifacts hand-carved from plastic which circulate in non-industrial societies, as referring to an indigenous culture other than that of high technology. In Forest Booties I've given the Pygmy Gamelan an "ethnographic" setting, among the quiet sounds of the forest.

Phil Harmonic (VR 103)
Side A: Phil Harmonic’s Greatest Hits (7:51)
1. Radio Music
2. The The Rolling Tones Radio Hour
3. The The Rolling Tones at The Co-Op Natural Foods
4. Opening Ceremonies at Art While-U-Wait
5. Duke of Windsor
Mixing, "Blue" Gene Tyranny
© 1980, Kenneth Werner

For my first solo phonograph record I have selected excerpts from documentation of my (musical performance) activities of the past eight years, which I spent largely in California. It seemed most appropriate for me to present an overview of my work, which is (always) not strictly musical composition and performance but rather suggestions towards unconventional modes of attention, through which I might help to demystify the relationsship between people and art and technology.

Radio Music relates to The Radio Music City Hall Symphony Orchestra, a term I invented in New York City in 1968 which describes musical work with electronic means within contemporary social and political structures. Radio Music exists in several versions, accumulative over time, in combinations of live performance and prerecorded material. It is obvious yet important for me to note that Radio Music is especially location-sensitive. Each new tuning creates particular vector relationships between program source, transmitter, and receiver that are interesting to me in a spatial context. In this version, for magnetic tape alone, four channels of changing radio informaion were mixed "intuitively" down to pseudo-stereo.

The The Rolling Tones (from "Phil Harmonic & The Nu-Tones") Radio Hour (KPFA, Berkeley, CA, 5 April 1976). Howard Moscovitz's semi-weekly new music program gave me the opportunity to work within the format of unannounced radio broadcast, sharing my ideas whith others who wished to talk. "Blue" Gene Tyranny was my guest this evening. Background sound on this track was live music which I offered for a "pyramid launching" atop the Goodman Building in San Francisco. Other portions of this broadcast my be heard on side two of this record.

The The Rolling Tones at the Co-op Natural Foods (Berkeley, 2 March 1974) was described as "a demystified concert situation which expresses varieties of changing relationships between individuals." during eight hours I appeared at a health-food supermarket and recorded environmental sounds, occasionally playing those and other prerecorded sound back ("recycling") into the space. I decided to keep the electronics at this event to a minimum, in order to help blur the difference between "concert" and "ordinary life situation." Two excerpts in sequence: 1) playback of unidentified television announcer's voice, describing my donation of a musical performance to the local public TV benefit auction (KQED-TV, San Francisco, 1973). 2) John and Phil discuss personality, taste, and irony and are interrupted by a new arrival, maybe Clay Fear. I wonder what sorts of subconscious mental imagery might be reviewed, in response to this rehearing of the familiar tune.

(Several photos of Lucille Ball appeared on the promotional literature for Art While-U-Wait, next.) With John Bischoff, Jill Kroesen, Nick Bertoni, and other shoppers.

Opening Ceremonies at Art While-U-Wait (Berkeley, 4 August 1974). Art While-U-Wait is the name of a storefront environment serving as a temporary musical-sculptural space. Speech and traffic sounds served to articulate the room tone and resonant acoustical qualities indoors. So far, I have only realized Art While-U-Wait twice, once in Berkely and once in San Francisco, but would be thrilled to pursue this activity further, elsewhere. With Clay Fear, outdoor voice; and "Blue" Gene Tyranny, Sally Kellman, The Black Tarantula, Melvyn Freilicher, Rich Gold, Jim Horton and others.

Duke of Windsor (Oakland, 16 December 1973) was presented in this version for Beethoven's Birthday, 1971, at Mills College. It is one of my last more conventional performance pieces, in which I read jokes aobut music and attend to overlapping sound structures within a "multi-media" atmosphere of slides, film, and video playback. With Lolly Bienenfeld, trombone.

Side B: WPA/Composite Mix: John Bischoff and Phil Harmonic (9:19)

This selection comprises the introductory portion of a 22-minute mix which John and I co-composed as part of a sample tape describing our work together. Heard in the mix are conversation on radio station KPFA, including remarks about my ongoing performance event Win A Dream Date With Phil; sound from a meal at a Chinese restaurant in Wellesley, MA with Regina and Matty Werner and Michelle, Gail, and Juan Ivonnet (Phil Harmonic discusses The Restaurant Synthesizer); and some of John Bischoff's wonderful airplane-sound environmental tracks, which were his contribution to WPA, three hours of musical activity three times, presented by five composers (John Bischoff, Paul DeMarinis, Phil Harmonic, Art Revolution, and "Blue" Gene Tyranny) in early 1976.

Frankie Mann (VR 104)
Side A: I Was a Hero from The Mayan Debutante Revue (9:23)
Frankie Mann, organ, bass guitar, voice
Recorded at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College. Oakland, CA, March 1979.
© 1980, Frankie Mann

The Mayan Debutante Revue is a reinterpretation of religious history. The work is a performance piece involving tape, slides, and one female performer. Surrounded by images of gigantic baseballs, computer memory boards, and by a viola/guitar orchestra playing a variation on the "Masterpiece Theater" theme song, the performer newscasts the misogynist comination-obsessed well-known fables of religious/philosophical/New Age Yin-Yang /contemporary scientific/Rock 'n' Roll "History." The Mayan Debutante Revue ends with performer athletics accompanied by "I Was a Hero," a song about artist-scientists who feverishly believe that they were hatched from Einstein's Egg.

Side B: How To Be Very Very Popular (excerpt) (8:49)
Julie Lifton, Ellen Weiser and unknown others, voices
Frankie Mann, tape editing, organ, synthesizer, voice
Recorded in San Francisco and Truckee, CA, and at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College, Oakland, CA. November 1978.
© 1980, Frankie Mann

How To Be Very Very Popular began as a letter-tape to my best friend. As young teenagers we used to invent dramas which were produced using tow rotten-quality cassette tape recorders. We spliced segments of cassette tape using kindergarten scissors and Scotch tape, in that we had no editing experience. These tapes were eventually aired in the middle of the night on a weekly radio show in Charlotte, NC ("The Bud Rose Radio Show"). Later I began composing electronic music, initially using homemade circuits and later using expensive synthesizers in college electronic music studios. My friend and I continued to send each other letters cross-country in tape form.

One of the preoccupations of Americans is worrying about one's intelligence. Many of my friends and I feel as if we were much more intelligent when we were children than we are now, and this leads us to believe that we are becoming stupider every day. About a year ago I began listening to those old "Bud Rose Radio Show" tapes which were made when I was in junior high school, and I decided that I had better musical ideas when I was a kid and perhaps I should revive some of my younger ideas. I was feeling frustrated with making music with computers and with socializing with computer sorts of boys, so I saved and bought a bass guitar and a small cassette tape recorder, and I started a cassette letter to my friend Ena. I purchased a TV Guide and opened it randomly and found the listing for a TV movie "How To Be Very Very Popular": "Comedy — Two strippers are embroiled in a zany adventure on a college campus as they are pursued by a murderer." I changed the plot somewhat, partially because I'm not amused by Hollywood's fascination with violence and half-stripped women. The "Bud Rose Radio Show" tapes always started with ideas gleaned from the TV Guide. I find it to be a terrific souce of germinal ideas.

Two observant young women who are situated on a college campus in the late 1970s undergo disorientation as a result of the social/political droidism which is rampant among young adults. Appalled by the ubiquity of John Travolta-Annie Hall clones, the women consider human evolution and American muscle power and they decide to embark on a very ambitious project, which is the alteration of human evolution. Equipped only with crude video electronics, a common nutrient substance, and fourth-generation hearsay about recombinant DNA techniques, Dotty and Kitty (the two women) attempt to create the world's first child born from two mothers.

How To Be Very Very Popular is not a narrative work; it consists of musical impressions derived from the above ideas. A narrative version (which includes a Super-8 film) is in progress, although I find such string-like structures very difficult to work with.

Maggi Payne (VR 105)
Side A: Lunar Dusk (8:00)
Recorded at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College, Oakland CA. 4 February 1979.
© 1980, Maggi Payne

Side B: Lunar Earthrise (excerpt) (8:00)
Recorded at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College, Oakland CA. 3 August 1978.
© 1980, Maggi Payne

Since Lunar Earthrise and Lunar Dusk were going to be put out in record form on the Lovely Music label, I though I could at least try to write some "lovely" music. Both pieces were composed using the Moog and Aries synthesizers and the twelve track recording studio at the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College. Much of the work involved premixes, resulting in a total of twnety tracks being mixed at a time in some sections. Major concerns of both pieces are spatial location of sounds and complex timbral changes. Structurally the pieces are simple, with large areas of clearly differing textures. On a smaller scale, however, the sounds are continually changing — delicately shifting in space and timbre.

“Blue” Gene Tyranny (VR 106)
Side A: Harvey Milk (Portrait) Part 1: The Action (4:15)
Side B: Harvey Milk (Portrait) Part 2: The Feeling (5:05)
Voice: Harvey Milk, from a live speech recorded by Frankie Mann at the "No on Proposition 6 Rally," Civic Center, San Francisco CA. 4 November 1978.
Electronics and mixing: "Blue" Gene Tyranny at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College, Oakland CA.
© 1980, Robert Sheff

Part 1 — The Action
It was a beautiful day to hear Harvey Milk speak. This was the first time I had seen him. The occasion was a rally held on November 4th, 1978, in the San Francisco Civic Center plaza, a vast downtown concrete area with lost of manicured nature, neat trees and a bandstand constructed for these events right in the face of City Hall. The crowd of 25,000 was high on life and had been listening to bands and speakers for several hours by the time Harvey spoke.

"Harvey Milk had become one of San Francisco's most popular elected officials, having carried nearly every precinct in and out of so-called 'gay neighborhoods'; he had served on the boards of several Latino organizations, campaigned for Women's issues and childcare centers, suported the Asian community on several issues and supported Gordon Lau for the Presidency of the Board of Supervisors. He was the most outspoken critic of the Board of Supervisors' Finance Committee when it removed budgets for minority mental health programs, a police community review board, and other important minority issues. He won a resolution demanding that the State Department close the South African consulate in San francisco and succeeded in getting San Francisco to enact a law banning discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation. He laid the groundwork for a Gay Neighborhood Center, and gay mental health and alcoholism programs were funded for the first time, and gays were appointed to city commissions and planning bodies while he was a Supervisor. He rallied the opposition to realty developments that threatened all neighborhoods and electred a commission to review the City's outdated charter; he worked on many other issues, including an anti-dog-litter law. He voted to approve the opening of a residential facility for disturbed teenagers" — from that point on, Harvey and his eventual assassin, Dan White, also a Supervisor at that time, never voted the same. (Redacted from "Learning from Harvey Milk," by Jim Rivaldo and Dick Pabich in The New Gay Liberation Book)

Harvey Milk was an inspiring person and all-around tough cookie. This day, as many times in recent months, he spoke up to oppose the repressive "Proposition 6" which was placed on the State ballot that year by Senator John Briggs. This measure would have started a witch-hunt to fire public school teachers having any connections, or rumors of connections, with homosexual persons (can you really hide it, do you want to, was it how often, who you are, or what?). Even for talking about homosexuality. Talk about Briggs turning people into sex objects. A gay reporter, Randy Shilts, wrote in the October 31st issue of the San Francisco Chronicle that Briggs had admitted to him that his bill wa purely for political gain, and not because he really cared at all about homosexuals.

Frankie Mann and I were going to meet at the rally with our respective cassette recorders in hand. We didn't find each other in the crowd, but fortunately she made a beautiful recording of the event (my portable battery didn't recharge after all).

In the first part of this portrait we listen to Harvey Milk's speech, edited down from an original 8 minutes. Ringing filters tuned in micro-intervals and triggered by his voice make a bell-like sound that could be happening inside your body or resounding off the stone buildings (built for Eternity or at least the next tremor), the sounds returning at different times and locations, a very beautiful spectral event (ancient Peruvians and the rainbow). The negative-going envelope shadowing his voice shuts down the circuit when the people start to cheer, and then there is a small melodic sweep as the filter rests for a moment (I imagine it saying "Whew, that was a good one"). The use of these particular resonant filters was inspired by a work of Robert Ashley's; the way in which they are used is unique to this piece, of course.

Part 2 — The Feeling
In this part we are listening to a resonant and constantly changing memory circuit which accumulates the bell-like sounds, re-cycles and intermoduates them in waves butterflying across a stereo field. Because of the tuning of the filters, a vibrato gradually develops that sounds like the cooing of pigeons. This circuit is part of a larger bluepring piece called How To Do It which helps to generate the feeling of meaning, and to search for those times you become aware that you have made a decision. For instance, if someone said that doing a piece about Harvey Milk would be benefiting by his death, a statement which may have the ring of reason, I would feel that is a jive thing to say because the piece contributes an appreciation of his work and has something new to say aobut perception — I become aware that I have made a decision. So now I can forget it. It'll always be around somewhere (: friends, langague, world; the brain doesn't store messages in specific places but swims in frequency fields forever and creates its own from inside out.)

There are other solutions than seeing the world just in terms of order and anarchy, or defensive freedom and teeth-grinding, eye-squinting dependence. For instance, Jazz and The Bill of Rights/creative co-operation with lots of solos and some moments of group action where someone's gain is not another's loss. (Moving freely among a spectrum of attitudes, he stopped breaking up things and started telling jokes.)

In the interplay of waves of feeling and moments of decision, Harvey Milk helped change an almost certain defeat of Gay rights to an overwhelming vicotry — within the short span of a month before election, public opinion was shifted to bring about a huge defeat of "Proposition 6." Harvey Milk had a wonderful musical cadence to his voice and you knew that he really believed what he was saying. So while over 20 million gay people in the States go about their business as the Pope and pubescents yell "faggots" (a version of Phil Harmonic's famous "Christ was I drunk last night" ...thank you, Phil... and of course Jesus wouldn't have said "faggot"), I can hardly hold back the cheers and the tears when Harvey Milk says "you've got to give them hope!" Thank you, Harvey.

November 27th, 1979 — Evening of a candle light procession in downtown San Francisco in honor of the memory of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.