David Rosenboom (USA, 1947),
who cut his teeth in LaMonte Young's ensemble and then played on
Morton Subotnick's The Electric Ear (1969) and on
Terry Riley's The Persian Surgery Orchestra (1969),
based his chamber compositions on self-designed electronic devices, typically
computer-augmented instruments. Hence
The Thud Thud Thud (1966) for sax, cello, piano,
celesta and percussion; Mississippississim
(1968) for 33 musicians;
Ecology Of The Skin (1970); etc.
Brainwave Music (1976) and
On Being Invisible (1977) inaugurated his biophysical music
based on brain waves (a` la Alvin Lucier).
For example, a computer processes brain waves, body temperatures and
skin movements of four performers in
Portable Gold And Philosophers' Stones (1972).
The first Piano Etude employs the performer's brain waves
to alter a piano phrase that would otherwise repeat itself ad libitum.
He also published two books on these topics:
"Biofeedback and the Arts" (1976)
and "Extended Musical Interface with the Human Nervous System" (1990).
Rosenboom also collaborated with vocalist Jacqueline Humbert. My New Music (2018), credited to J. Jasmine, documents a losts 1978 collaboration, on which Rosenboom plays piano, synth, violin, and various percussion instruments, and he composed the music for her psychodrama of 1980, Daytime Viewing (2013).
His most ambitious work, the monumental
Zones of Influence (1985) for computer and
ispired by Rene' Thom's catastrophe theory,
was finally released in its entirety
30 years later on Zones Of Influence (Pogus, 2014).
The goal was to test the border between chaos and order via
real-time algorithmic processing of the percussionist's performance.
Each movement is scored for a different combination of percussion instruments,
follows a different score and uses a different computer algorithm.
The Winding of a Spring - The Stochastic Part is the first of the
percussive carillons, and perhaps the simplest one to appreciate, a
videogame-inspired dadaistic version of Morton Subotnick.
The Winding of a Spring - The Tripartite Structure is at times
graver and slower, but at times it is also almost riffing, more faithful to
minimalist repetition, and stages an exhilarating escalation.
Closed Attracting Trajectories - Melody Set 1 has a
Caribbean feeling (because of the percussion it employs) and feels more
melodic and almost jazzy.
Closed Attracting Trajectories - Melody Set 2 is perhaps the best
demonstration of chaos thery, swinging between opposite poles, from the
agonizing, jarring, neurotic pole to the
celestial and gamelan-like tidy pole, and finally back to extreme tension.
Chaos and confusion reign in
Given the Senses the Real Pregeometry, at times evoking
a horrendously disfigured baroque sonata but mostly intent in disorienting
the listener with harsh and quick contrasts, and with a cascade of manic events,
at one point relapsing and recharging but only for the purpose of unleashing
a final thick and frenzied percussive maelstrom.
Epigenesis Ontogenesis Phylogenesis Parthenogenesis is
relatively quiet and brainy.
The 17-minute The Buckling of a Spring has more of an electronic flair,
sort of a galactic battle mixed with a dissonant violin solo.
Whenever the intensity exceeds the didactic intent Rosenboom enters the new
dimension of music opened by Terry Riley's In C and turns it from
hypnotic transcendent abstraction into earthly bodily passion.
Suitable For Framing (2004) contains Suitable For Framing (1975) for two keyboards (a collaboration with JB Floyd), Patterns for London (1972), and Is Art Is, that emphasized improvisation.
Collaboration in Performance (1750 Arch, 1978) contains And Out Come the Night Ears and How Much Better if Plymouth Rock Had Landed on the Pilgrims.
A Live Electro-acoustic Retrospective (Slowscan, 1987) contains And Come Up Dripping (1968), Trio II (1978), In the Beginning I (1978).
Invisible Gold (Pogus, 2001) contains Portable Gold And Philosophers' Stones (1972) and On Being Invisible (1977).
Other compositions include:
Septet (1964) for trumpet, French horn, trombone, violin, viola, cello, piano;
Sextet (1965) for string quartet, flute, and bassoon;
A Precipice In Time (1966), a quintet (two percussionists, piano, alto saxophone, cello) with computer processing;
Then We Wound Through An Aura of Golden Yellow Gauze (1967), a John Cage-an game of creating a score out of a symbolic structure;
the theater piece She Loves Me She Loves Me Not (1968) for electronics, percussion, spoken text, light system, slide projectors, mimes, and a piano with lid removed;
How Much Better If Plymouth Rock Had Landed On The Pilgrims (1969) for unspecified instruments;
The Seduction of Sapientia (1974) for viola da gamba and electronics (whose melodies are derived from the overtones of the viola);
Is Art Is (1974) for variable ensembles;
Suitable for Framing (1975) for two pianos and South Indian Mrdangam,
documented on Suitable for Framing (2004);
the concert The Naked Truth (1976) for performance-art ensemble;
Trio I (1976) with Richard Teitelbaum and Michael Byron;
Trio II (1978);
In The Beginning (1978-81), a series of nine works for soloists, chamber ensembles, orchestra and electronics;
Future Travel (1981) for computer, electronics and acoustic instruments
(one of the first albums composed almost entirely with a digital synthesizer),
collected on Future Travel (Street, 1981 - New World, 2007);
the electronic dance piece Systems of Judgment (1987) for keyboards, violin, found sounds, sampling, digital synthesis (i.e., interactive software),
documented on Systems of Judgement (CRC, 1991);
Roundup (1987), an anthology of live electro-acoustic works;
Extended Trio (1992) for improvising trio (piano, bass and mrdangam) and software;
Attunement (1999) for multiple voices;
Seeing the Small In the Large (1999) for orchestra;
the "concerto grosso" Naked Curvature (2001) for chamber sextet, whispering voices, sound effects and interactive software;
The "self-organizing" opera On Being Invisible II (1995)
involves two performers, each equipped with a device that captures their brain
activity, two improvising musicians, a computer-controlled video,
voice tapes, a real-time digital synthesis system:
the sequence in which texts, sounds and images proceed is determined by
the brain processes of the two protagonists.
This piece stands as a summation of decades of experiments in
interactive performance and multi-media art.
Two Lines (Lovely, 1996) are piano-sax duets with jazz saxophonist
Most of Rosenboom is inspired by biology, and the
cascading piano notes of Lineage (contrasted with harmonious, fluttering
saxophone or flute cycles) do evoke movements of nature.
The frantic, fibrillating piano-sax noise in Enactment
feels like a multitude of insects or bacteria moving around in their
Transfiguration is cool jazz for the computer age: the mathematical
algorithm of the piano and the saxophone build up to an electrifying sequence.
On the contrary, Transference is all tender and slow emotion and
lethargy. The math is still at work, ceaselessly weaving relationships
between notes, but the human element now prevails.
The lengthier piece, Two Lines (1989), 26 minutes long,
exhibits an almost classical composure, despite the fact that it originates
from a stochastic method (amplifying the microscopic glitches of a superficially
static drone). Initially the piano and sax exchange compliments in a somewhat
shy and restrained manner. Then Braxton switches to the flute and the two
instruments engaged in a heated debate, with the piano on the dissonant side
and the flute on the melodic side of the equation. No sooner does Braxton
return to the sax that the unity collapses into a series of skewed
fractals. At about eleven minutes, Braxton duets with himself by alternating
between instruments. When he settles for the saxophone, the music returns
to the frenzied buzzing of Enactment. Eight minutes from the end, the
music pauses and then restarts more chaotic, even borrowing the first notes
of Beethoven's fifth symphony.
Emblematic of his ever more complex processes of composition/performance is
the piano sonata Bell Solaris (1998), in which the pianist's playing
triggers a piano played by the computer.
Four Lines (2001) incorporates both improvisation and the brain activity of two performers who are performing Rosemboon's own On Being Invisible II .
Brainwave Music (ARC, 1976 - EM Records, 2006) collects music for brainwaves (and sometimes piano) dating from the 1970s: Portable Gold and Philosophers' Stones (Music from Brains in Fours) (1972), Chilean Drought (1974) and Piano Etude I (Alpha) (1971).
How Much Better if Plymouth Rock Had Landed on the Pilgrims was re-recorded from october 2008 to january 2009 and issued on a double-disc album (New World, 2009).
Life Field (2012) is a retrospective of works from 1964-2004.
The 54-minute concept suite Book Of Omens (march 2012) featured Vinny
Golia on tenor sax, contralto clarinet & alto flute, Jake Vossler on
electric guitar, Tim Lefebvre on electric bass and Matt Mayhall on drums.
He has also composed the interactive "opera"
AH!, the piano work Twilight Language and
Continental Divide for variable ensemble.
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