Tape Music (Quad)

Instrumentation:  Quad Surround Sound
Duration:  7:14

Premiere
3/28/14
SEAMUS (Society for Electroacoustic Music in the US)
Wesleyan University
Middletown, CT

Program Note

Tape Music is a meditation on tape, both as a collection of materials emblematic of our throwaway culture and, to the contrary, materials that can be used to mend items that would otherwise be thrown away. It is also a nostalgic tribute to the genre of tape music that developed when electronic music was encoded on magnetic tape, and one whose name persists despite the ongoing changes in playback media. Whether used merely to pack other, more permanent objects, or to extend the life of items we care about, such as a favorite book, the found sounds of these humble materials form the substance of this piece.

The initial spur for Tape Music came from an NPR broadcast about the exploitation of Nigerian workers in China, who spent their days packing products for shipment. As I heard the sounds of boxes being taped up, I immediately decided to compose Tape Music. Composer Scott Barton and producer Mark Gresham assisted me in recording myself at The Sound Studio in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I ripped, cut, squashed, and otherwise played with tape, as well as taping boxes and then slashing through the tape. I used a wide variety of tape types,, as well as taping boxes and then slashing the tape. Tape Music for Quad surround sound is one of a group of pieces generated from these same sources, and part of an ongoing series called Everyday Music. The first 5.1 version was premiered at the Third Practice Festival in Richmond, VA on 11/2/13, as was Tape Music∞ , scored for any number of participants and stereo playback. The computer processing was accomplished using RTcmix. –JS