Spring 2021 Concert

CECM Spring 2021 Concert - Program Notes

This concert was streamed by IUMusicLive! on May 13, 2021. We would like to thank Tony Tadey and Glenn Myers for encoding our stream and providing invaluable technical advice. Joe Jiang edited the video of Action-Reaction. Jozef Caldwell of Russian Recording was the recording engineer for Framework. The students edited their own videos, with assistance from John Gibson and Chi Wang, who together produced the program.

Tim Reinholz: Several Minutes

Several Minutes: There are several minutes of music in this piece. All sounds are derived from the same instrument, and samples are taken to feed manipulative electronic instruments. There is no deliberate narrative through the music, and its purpose is to expand the timbral possibilities and polyphonic limit of a solo viola. Hey, who doesn’t love unlimited viola?

Anne Liao: Flip on, Airwaves

Flip on, Airwaves is a collection of sounds, such as the flip of a switch, and voices from AM/FM radio. The exploration of the sonic transformation and interaction was my main focus. A switch can turn into typing or thunder, and voices become granulated glitches.

Yi-De Chen: The Deep Ocean

The Deep Ocean was written for piano and live electronics, which involved sixteen fixed-media fragments, cut from the music of the piano part and live-processed in Max. While playing, the pianist presses a MIDI sustain-pedal to trigger the fixed media.

To elaborate on my imagination of the deep ocean, I use thick chords to make the piano part resonant and leave room for the electronic part to expand. On the other hand, the transformed fixed media may sustain a relatively long time to support and blend with the piano sounds. The piece starts from a motive in the low register and gradually grows into significant passages. In texture and musical emotion, the electronic and piano parts complement and blend.

Joey Miller: Infraxion

Infraxion is a randomly generated system of instruments manipulated by humanized parameters. It explores the concept of gradual change, and its compositional development is not known fully by the performer until after performance decisions are made in real time.

Shuyu Lin: Reaction, Reflection (反应·反映)

The words reaction (反应) and reflection (反映) share a similar pronunciation in English, but both are pronounced the same in Chinese: “Fan Ying.” The main idea of Reaction, Reflection is that the same bassoon sound triggers different electronic sounds with different timing. The bassoon sound corresponds to the same pronunciation of the two words, and the electronic sound represents the different meanings of the word with the same or similar pronunciation.

We can hear three parts in this piece. In the first and third parts, the bassoon sound functions as a “water drop,” which causes a ripple on the “water surface” of the electronic sound. The bassoon’s sound triggers the live electronics, which include rain and crystal sounds, among others, that contrast with the bassoon. The second part features extended bassoon techniques, such as slap tongue and multiphonics. The rhythmic pulse, projected by slap tongue sounds, gradually transitions to multiphonic swells, built by both computer processing and real bassoon multiphonics. These sound materials push the piece to the climax.

Oliver Kwapis: Talk-back

Talk-back is a structured improvisation for Gametrak controller, USB footswitch, and Max/MSP.

In my early teens I began to experience a severe anxiety of getting sick in public — a fear that I would never be able to live down the embarrassment, unsee the prying eyes, or worse, that I wouldn’t be able to physically make it through the moment without something horrible, and unsettlingly vague, befalling me.

Though I’ve worked for years to lessen this anxiety in many triggering scenarios, one that continues to prove perilous is performing, or even listening to a piece of mine being performed. In the audience, I fidget uncontrollably in my chair, dizzyingly nauseous, sweating profusely, clutching the program so tightly that by the end of the concert it is just a crumple of unreadable pages. I am petrified that I might throw up in my seat, or faint, or something equally embarrassing. When I perform, my anxiety only amplifies. I think that everyone is watching me in the audience; I know that everyone is watching me on stage.

In graduate school, somewhat unexpectedly, I became enthralled by performing data-driven instruments. As I realized that I wanted this type of performance to play a bigger and bigger role in my life, my performance anxiety didn’t wane but began to be matched by excitement. Conversely, the excitement gave me renewed energy to face my anxiety head-on. I decided to do so, in part, through my music — through performing.

Talk-back is such an attempt. The piece is a performance of a small panic-attack. Using recordings of both my real anxiety-statements (triggering thoughts) and talk-backs (short, positive mantras that I can think or say to dispute my irrational thoughts) the piece shows how my anxiety builds in performance situations and how I work to lessen my worries through cognitive restructuring. The work is divided into three continuous sections. In the first, three anxiety-statements trigger maelstroms of anxious thoughts, each explosion of worries more virulent than the last. In the second, waves of drones (extremely stretched-out recordings of my talk-backs) dissipate the chaos, calming me down. In the third, I play a series of the pre-recorded talk-backs, now intelligibly. Though their messages are heartening, I awkwardly “scrub” through the recordings, fighting to say each phrase fully, creating a sense of uncertainty. Am I really going to be okay?

Patrick W. Lenz: Framework

Framework for viola, live electronics, and live painting provides the performers the opportunity for improvisation within a general structure. The electronics used are all live and free from time, so that the violist has total flexibility with phrasing and timing. The painter, whose long single strokes imitate that of the violist, records the history of the performance as it unfolds and helps to highlight the sections of the piece. This piece was written for, and is dedicated to, Jane Larson.