for soprano, prepared piano and electronics (also available as an acousmatic work)
Based on a text written in memory of a friend who passed away in 1988, Transient was written in 2008 for soprano, prepared piano and two electronic sources, one consisting of live processing, the other including the text – whispered, spoken and sung – transformed in the electronic studio. Another important vocal source is breathing, imagined as a metaphor of life after life. The unfolding of the music is based on a relational system where a word (a phrase or a concept) of the poem is associated to a specific pitch. The syntactic relations established between pitch and word (meaning) have generated musical phrases articulated in six sections corresponding to the six verses of the text.Addtional Info:
Text by John Palmer. Selected at the 36th Bourges International Competition Electroacoustic Music 2009 in Section II: Trivium – 3rd category. May also be performed as a duo (soprano & electronics) or as an acousmatic work.
Acousmatic version first performed at JSEM/MSJ Electroacoustic Festival 2009, Nagoya City University, Japan, 10th May 2009.
Duo version premiered by Marie-Pierre Roy (soprano) and John Palmer (electronics) at the Contemporanea Festival, Udine, Italy in 2011.
Instrumentation: Electronics, Soprano, Piano
for stereo tape
2007-08 11' 10"
In 2007 Jonathan Harvey invited me to write a work for tape based on trumpet samples played by Markus Stockhausen for his piece “other presences”. The condition being to use only the studio recording of the trumpet. When listening to the trumpet recordings I decided to dismantle the original phrases and manipulate the spectral characteristics of single sounds in order to create new sounds and reconstruct a new music from scratch. The only exception being two phrases which I processed after leaving them in the original form. Firstly, I established eight textural categories of the original music: nine single notes, flatter-tongues, short phrases, long phrases, repeated and grace notes, “many notes”, “short notes” (including eight scales) and glissandi. I concentrated on the spectral content of nine pitches extracted from their original setting (a-flat, g-flat, c, b-flat, c-sharp, e-flat, e, f, a). By blending and reordering their partials, I created hybrid sounds and merged them with two melodic phrases of the recording, modified and transposed to extreme ranges. An example of such extreme transpositions can be heard at the beginning of the piece. With “present otherness” I wanted to investigate the dichotomy of a “present” perception of reality, meaning the sensorial level of awareness, and an-“other” more elusive quality of extended perception linked to the experience of a more metaphysical dimension of life. An “otherness” experienced as “present” in a truly phenomenological sense, no longer alien, but an-“other” manifestation of the magical essence we originate from. Thus the here-there, near-far, loud-soft, action-stasis, fast-slow dialectics of an ever-interacting duality may become a scenario for the surreal to become real and viceversa. “Present otherness” is available on the CD “Other Presences”(by Jonathan Harvey) released by Sargasso, Cat. No. SCD28057.Addtional Info:
Commissioned by Jonathan Harvey.
First performed by John Palmer at Arena New Music Festival, Kanepes Culture Center, Riga, Latvia, 25th September 2014.
for stereo tape
2011 16' 20"
I wrote Mémoires in the summer of 2011 and dedicated it to the memory of Luc Ferrari. All the sounds used in this work belong to the Luc Ferrari sound archives and have been kindly offered by the Presqué Rien Association for which this piece has been written. No other sound sources have been used for the realization of this work. The 15 selected sounds inspired me to write a piece that would resemble an imaginary life-story. The work consists of 14 sections. The first seven sections expose the “thematic” sound material. In the remaining seven sections sounds are merged, varied and developed to the end, with the addition of a coda–like final section.Addtional Info:
First performed by John Palmer at GRM Studio 116, Radio France, Paris, 29th November 2011.
Presque Rien International Composition Prize winner, Paris 2011.
in the temple
for stereo tape
2006-07 52' 20"
Commissioned by DeutschlandRadio Berlin. May be diffused both as radio and concert (acousmatic) piece. Nine movements; each one may be diffused as a stand-alone piece. The movements are: 1. Beginning (6’31”); 2. Lower Hall of Earth (2’28”); 3. Higher Hall of Earth (5’55”); 4. Hall of Metals (3’53”); 5. Labyrinth (7’54”); 6. Blue Temple (3’39”); 7. Hall of Water (5’55”); 8. Hall of Spheres (3’55”); 9. Hall of Mirrors (5’25”).Addtional Info:
First broadcast on DeutschlandRadio, Berlin, 7th April 2007.
for stereo tape
2001-02 52' 20"
Commissioned by DeutschlandRadio Berlin. May be diffused both as radio and concert (acousmatic) piece. Seven movements; each one may be diffused as a stand-alone piece. The movements are: 1. Three memories (4’00”); 2. Flying (4’31”); 3. Narita (3’07”); 4. Fragments of perception (8’31”); 5. Mirrors Uncertain (11’00”); 6. On the Margin (7’48”); 7. Return (13’05”).Addtional Info:
First broadcast on DeutschlandRadio, Berlin, 5th December 2003.
“…as it flies…”
for 8-channel diffusion
2000-01 13' 20"
Over the past 20 years I have become increasingly receptive to the mystery of the elusive, the intangible… a distinct perception of the ineffable as experienced in my daily life. ‘…as it flies…’ is by no coincidence my first work for tape, a musical medium which provides a most direct access to the world of imagination. The sound sources I have used are words extracted from a poem called ‘Eternity’ by the English poet and painter William Blake (1757-1827). All the sounds heard in this work derive from a female – spoken – voice reciting the Blake’s poem. The complete text of the poem is the following:
He who binds to himself a joy / does the wingéd life destroy / But he who kisses the joy as it flies / lives in Eternity’s sunrise
The text has been explored in three ways: in its entirety (each line of the poem taken as a recitation module and syntactic-rhythmic unit); as single words (each word being explored as a specific sound object); as individual micro-sounds (phonemes, vowels and consonants, including the breathing of the speaker).
First performed by John Palmer on the 6th February 2001 at Engine27, New York, USA.
Commissioned by the Electronic Music Foundation, New York. 8-channels tape on a Pro-Tools system. A stereo version is also available.
for synthesizer & stereo tape (also available as an acousmatic work)
1992 (rev. 1997) 11'
I wrote Phonai in 1993 for a Yamaha SY-77 synthesizer with the intention to explore some of the instrument’s sonic capabilities. I like to consider the synthesizer as an instrument with a musical potential not inferior to traditional instruments and offering an immense variety of colours and dynamic nuances. Four years later I decided to add a concréte counterpart to the synthesizer’s sounds by using some voice recordings of my children Grace and Iris, at that time being 5 and 3 years old.
Phonai is based on a principle of expansion and contraction of register, embracing a range of ten octaves and including both the temperate tuning system (half-tones) and microtonality (quarter-tones). It is possible to perform this work on a Yamaha SY-99 synthesizer.
An acousmatic version of Phonai is available for stereo diffusion.
First performed by John Palmer (synthesizer & electronics) at BMIC, London 23rd February 1993.
The electronics consists of a tape part. The synthesizer is a Yamaha SY-77 or SY-99.
Instrumentation: Electronics, Synthesiser