Tape Study #2: ‘Swampmusic IV’

‘Swampmusic IV’ is a brief study which utilizes vacuum tube waveform and noise generators, sources now associated with the “classical electronic music” studios of the 1950’s. The work combines elements of variation with additive form.
There are three main sections of the compositions which are all twenty seconds in length. Section one begins with a rhythmic fragment which is used throughout the piece in various statements. The first complete statement of the rhythmic motive is heard at :15. This material, heard throughout the composition, provides a structural background as well as compositional unity. Section two introduces three new ideas which are pitch-related and are in contrast to what has previously been heard. Section three is gesturally similar to section two, except the ideas use sound which is non-pitch related. A short coda reprises the opening statement.
The waveform and noise generators created various timbres for the composition. Section one utilizes pulse wave “clicks” while section two utilizes sounds synthesized from various combinations of waveforms and noise. Section three uses noise from a random signal tone generator. In addition to the creation and selection of timbres, the sounds were further signal-processed via filtering, tape echo and reverb. (“Lots of tape echo and reverb.”) The following tape studio techniques were additionally used: compositional splicing, speed manipulation and mixing.