Three Hopeless Songs

hardware:   SGI Indy/IRIX
software:   RTcmix, Mix

The "particularly difficult time in my life" referred to in the original program notes for these pieces was my tenure evaluation and review at Columbia University. I had been told that I had zero chance of getting tenure, and asssumed I had washed out of academia. I needed to figure out what the heck I was going to do for the rest of my life. Pablo Medina had given me a draft of his new book of poetry; and it totally amazed me. I really felt he had managed to capture in words the feelings that I was unable to put into words; I have a tremendous respect for that talent. I could use sound, however. These pieces acted as a kind of therapy for me.

As I understand it, Fred Lerdahl worked hard to get my tenure case reconsidered (yay Fred!), and ultimately I was awarded tenure at Columbia. I sometimes wonder what life would be like had that not occurred. No regrets, just curiosity.

The stasis in these pieces is probably reflective of my desire at the time for a kind of stasis. The distance and alienation of the voices, well... the bells in the second piece are from a music box that belonged to Lian or Daniel. The processing of the voice in the third piece came from an application I had developed with one of our music theory grad students, Emily Laugeson-Snyder. It was intended as an FFT analysis tool, but I bent it to process my voice. Rectangular frames -- nice and crunchy! People also ask me about the filter I used to get the sound of my voice speaking through a tube in the middle piece. I spoke through a cardboard tube, and recorded it. Very high-tech.

These were the first pieces I completed on the SGI Indy. They are among my favorites. Lots of strong memories are associated with them.