MATRIXSYNTH: Barry Schrader: Moon-Whales

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Barry Schrader: Moon-Whales

YouTube via ExMachinaPub | Feb 22, 2011 |

"This video is from a 1985 concert at CalArts that dealt with real-time video processing of live performances. This is the final movement of Schrader's "Moon-Whales and Other Moon Songs" (1982-83), based on poems by Ted Huges. Performers include Maurita Phillips-Thormburgh, soprano, and Michael Scroggins, live video processing. The electronic music was created on a Buchla 200 system (Electric Music Box)."
via Barry Schrader:
"Moon-Whales is the seventh and final movement of my work Moon-Whales and Other Moon-Songs composed in 1982-83, and based on children's poems by the late British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes. It was originally composed for the soprano Maurita Phillips-Thornburgh, who performs in this video. The work was performed several times throughout the U.S. as well as in Europe. The final performance was at the funeral of my friend and colleague, vocalist/composer Frank Royon Le Mée in Marseilles in 1993, at his request. Moon-Whales and Other Moon-Songs was my final non-improvised work with the Buchla 200. Unfortunately, the master tapes, being on Ampex 456, are no longer playable due to the binder problems with that tape formulation. As the masters are, therefore, lost, there will probably never be any more performances of this work. I did do a digital transfer of one of the solo electronic movements, Moon-Wings, for some dance groups many years ago, but, unfortunately, not the other movements of the work. I recently came across this video tape, and although both the video and audio quality are poor, I thought it might be interesting to some people as a documentation of the final movement of the work."

Update: some additional info from Barry Schrader in response to a question from the Buchla 200e list:

"All of the electronic music in Moon-Whales was done on the Buchla 200. The Fairlight referred to is the Fairlight CVI, an early hybrid video processor. The "thanks" is because the CalArts School of Film/Video had one on loan from Fairlight at the time.

[Regarding] the '…melodic 12-tone scale…', the electronic music here, as in all of my works involving live performers, has an "orchestral" accompaniment function. Thus, here, it must support the vocal line, and, yes, it is tonal, in a 20th century, abstracted sort of way. Not all of my music created on the Buchla 200 uses a tempered scale. Then, as now, I use a variety of tunings, some of which are invented for a specific piece or section of a piece. "Monkey King", for example, is entirely pentatonic.

Like most things, the limitations of the Buchla 200 depend on the person using it. Some of the ideas that are important to me in the electronic music I create are the development of new timbres, having a high degree of control over what I'm doing, and trying to go beyond what's been done (both by myself and others) in the past. While little of my analog work is commercially available, the "Lost Atlantis CD" contains music that was entirely done on the Buchla 200 in 1976-77. The booklet that comes with the CD has some technical information. I didn't find it difficult to create any particular type of scale with this synth, as I developed procedures for insuring precise control. For example, with "Moon-Whales", I measured voltage data to 2 decimal places with a VOM, and, using this and other means of notating patch data, I usually was able to faithfully recreate a given patch.

The original version of "Moon-Whales" was quadraphonic, and, on this video, everything is really crushed together. Still, you can get an idea of what it sounds like."

1 comment:

  1. This additional info is very interesting. I like the Barry Schrader work on the Buchla timbres. It's great.


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