Album Notes


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“Blue” Gene Tyranny, acoustic & electronic keyboards, field & studio recording, transforms created at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College, Oakland, California

Timothy Buckley, accordion in The CBCD Intro

Tom Hamilton, computer editing

Final sync for Country Boy Country Dog, WUOM Radio, Ann Arbor, Michigan, George Cacioppo, Robert Ashley, engineers

The CBCD Variations, Arch Ensemble for Experimental Music, Robert Hughes, cond., from live performance recorded by Robert Shumaker at The Performance Gallery, San Francisco, CA, May 3, 1980:

Dan Smiley, violin

Patrice Hambelton, flute, piccolo

Betsy London, viola

Robin May, oboe, English horn

Ami Radunskaya, cello

William Wohlmacher, clarinet

Mel Graves, bass

Greg Barber, bassoon

Rae Imamura, celeste

George Mealy, French horn

Norman Peck, percussion

Carole Klein, trumpet

Ward Spangler, percussion

Johannes Mager, trombone

Produced by Thomas Buckner

Special thanks to those people who let me record them in their daily lives, and to Cole Gagne for help in editing the liner notes.

The pieces in this album were realized from “How To Discover Music In The Sounds Of Your Daily Life”, a procedural score for research and composition with environmental sounds ... a singing desert wind, a baby's cry, a rustle of leaves in empty space ... provide emotional experiences like those of acoustic music.

The environmental sounds heard in “Country Boy Country Dog” generated all the melodies, harmonies and rhythms through electronic “transforms” described below. These intermediate transforms were then used to create orchestra pieces played back in the environment, completing a circle.

Country Boy Country Dog (1967) —

In the late summer of 1966, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I recorded 3 months of audio snapshots of daily living. This helped me to pay more attention to both what was actually going on “outside” and to the subtle involuntary activity and imagination “inside” that make a music of their own. This interaction of inside and outside has been called a co-dependent reality.

Day and night, a scan of the area was made in a loose arcing movement from the outskirts to the center of town. I also followed by intuition a “surreal clue” method, guided by similar shapes of different sizes, similar sounds but from different sources, smells similar to a memory, and so on. All interferences - barking dogs, wet feet, stares ... - were accepted. Taking Mary Ashley's advice, I learned to stop jumping to record “interesting” sounds and ....just listen. The “procedural score” was being gradually discovered.

Whatever sounds that happened became the “content” of the piece. I didn't set out to make a piece about boys or dogs. When realized by others, the piece will have other content, title, and feeling.

The sounds were paired on inside and outside channels for similar and contrasting timbres - the disturbed surface of nocturnal crickets and restaurant voices, the “shave and a haircut, two bits” rhythm of barking dogs, the close texture of steps in gravel and CB radio static. Any story line is unintentional. A mystery may seem to be implied where one may or may not exist.

-- The Transforms (1972 - 1992) --

Within the environmental sounds were small events - rhythms, quasi-melodic inflections, ringing harmonics - a fine, sub-rosa level brought out by electronic scans called “transforms”. Heard through small-band “windows”, the two channels cross-modulate each other, creating a simple field in which everything affects everything, like the body's perceptors transducting an outside sound. The sensation of a transform is like the feeling left after a sound has ended, or a concert is over.

The transforms heard on this CD are:

- “A Dream Without Images”. The feeling behind the action: A telegraphic ringing relaxes into cascades of harmonics, acetylcholine neurons flash in the brain, calcium deposits from exploding stars leave traces in the synapses, and we dream of being helpful for no reason at all, while sferics sweep the atmosphere.

- “X Marks The Spot (Daydream)”. This music occurs simultaneously in both forward, historical time and backward, daydream time. This is analogous to interior imagination and visual perception physically sharing the same pathways only moving in opposite directions (in the occipital, parietal, temporal lobes). Background and foreground positions gradually cross from one world to the next, and curious illusions occur at the exact midpoint of this crossing (“X”). “X Marks The Spot” at which the inside and the outside meet.

- “Rhythm (1976), Harmony (1976), and Slowscan (1992) Transforms” heard with “Country Boy Country Dog”. Feeling (the transforms) is mixed with the environmental. Both are real, both close to immaterial.

In the rhythm transform, the peaks of the environmental sounds generate a telegraphic/vedic “code”. Peaks also trigger the harmony transform, like events can poke at a person's mood. The bi-modal chords create the feeling of two equal resting places. For the slowscan transform, selected waveforms were frozen in the computer and scanned retrograde and forward, a computer version of moving about in the environment.

The Electro-Acoustic Pieces (1980 - 1989) —

“The CBCD Intro” (1984), a 5-voice free canon with drones, introduces the tuning used in all the electro-acoustic pieces - two pitch modes, one “happy” (Eb, F, Bb, C) and one “mysterious” (G, Ab, C, D), not contrasted but merged to create other sensations.

To date, three compositions have been realized from the transforms: “The CBCD Concert for Soloist(s) and Electronics” (1980) for performers who scan a mix of four transforms; “The Forecaster” (1989) for double orchestra, decoding chorus and time-transposing keyboardist moving through enfolded symmetry like that of sand paintings and predictive graphs; and on this CD “The CBCD Variations for Soloist and Orchestra “ (1980).

The Variations are like an evening concert where the musicians recall events of the day under a starry, eternal sky ... the words (notes) evoke a feeling, a feeling determines their choice of words.

The musical gestures slowly rotate, bend and stray from their initial pitches, following the moods of the day. They are grouped into 3 wavefronts, or movements. These describe the ensemble interacting like 3 societies in miniature, each with their own kind of behavior.

The first movement is a strict accumulating canon, the society or environment (orchestra) emphasized over the soloist, but certain performers begin to play in a free chanting style with a “built-in” memory; in the second movement, this mechanistic activity slows down, and stops at points, leaving transparent resonances, like simple meditations, with the soloist freely rearranging notes; in the third movement, circumstances are shared, all performers have material to be played freely with open emotional potential, feeling the individual presence of other players is now a musical element so that sync is by choice or involuntary attraction. Each person has something different in mind at any given moment, like hope in a difficult world.

The beginning transform reappears as twilight changes into deep night.

— notes © 1993 “Blue” Gene Tyranny

Arch Ensemble for Experimental Music, Robert Hughes, cond.,
Robert Shumaker, recording engineer for The CBCD Variations
Tom Hamilton, computer editing
Booklet image: “Blue” Gene Tyranny, from the film, “Home Movie”
Executive Producer: Thomas Buckner, Mutable Music Productions
Digital mastering: Allan Tucker, Foothill Digital Productions, New York

Art Direction and Design: By Design

Copyright © 1994 “Blue” Gene Tyranny
© P 1994 Lovely Music, Ltd.