By Sarah Louise Bassingthwaighte
Copyright © 2002 by Sarah Louise Bassingthwaighte. All rights reserved.

Chapter III


Relationship between Tape and Player

In an interview with composer Diane Thome, Bruce Duffie of WNIB Chicago asked, "Aren't you afraid of losing the human element in computer music?" To this she responded, "The human element is always present as long as, I think, human beings are involved in the creative act." [53]  This is one of the most pressing concerns about electronic music in general, and computer-generated music in particular. Musicians wonder if we are moving away from the human element of a live performer, and even away from the human element of a live composer (since computers are capable of doing many compositional tasks). We are pressed to evaluate what it is that defines music, performance, composition, and even listening, and then to further inquire what it is that is valuable and important about these definitions. The first thing to remember, as Dr. Thome addresses, is that computers, as of yet, are still controlled by humans, and therefore, all creative activities using the computer are still human creations." [54]  In a sense, the incessant concern about "human vs. machine" is a non-existent dilemma; Thome calls it a "false argument." [55]  Still, the resistance to music involving technology is present in the world of "classical" or "art" music. The dynamic of humans and machines interacting plays into the experience of composing, performing, and listening to music that involves both elements.

It is this very dynamic that constitutes part of the music itself. As we listen to a piece of music written for a live performer and computer-generated sounds, we are aware of both the similarities as well as the differences between the two instruments. They make different sounds from each other, they have different limitations and capabilities, and the act of perceiving them is different, if only because we can actually see the performer. Also, an important difference is what is usually considered the human element, which usually refers not only to expression but also to flaws in performance This has always been a major component of music performance. We desire to experience that means of expression that a performer can make human and personal, and we are impressed by the virtuosity, the effort, and sometimes the faults of the performer. In short, we enjoy experiencing that which we consider makes us the most human. A key element to live performance is the difficulty and effort we perceive, and the extremes of register, speed, dynamics, change, as well as the beauty and sophistication of our expressive gestures are compelling and interesting. It can be argued that these same elements, when performed by a computer, do not have the same effect. It is certainly expressive and important that the computer explores range, speed, and so on, but this is perceived without the element of chance, and certainly without the element of effort compared to a human performance.

We realize, then, that our experience of music is made up of not only the musical gestures and techniques, or even of the expressive qualities, but also of the effort in executing the demands made upon the performer. Just as we are intensely interested in sports, film, literature, and so on, we are attracted to the effort put forth and drawn into the experience of the performer. Mario Davidovsky describes his initial reasoning for mixing a live instrumentalist with a tape recorder:

" I thought that introducing the electronic instrument to the world hand in hand with the live performer would actually diminish the impact of just the loudspeakers screaming at you. To mix the electronci sounds with instruments that were more familiar would make the electronics more acceptable." [56

The dichotomy between performer and computer does exist, and will affect the performance and composition. Some of the elements of a composition that highlight the distinction between the electronic part and the live performer include timbre, rhythmic gesture, speed, pitch, lengths of sounds, and texture. The contrast between similarities and differences creates an ongoing dynamic that informs much of the writing. For instance, it is possible for the two elements to present the same pitch material, and yet it is also possible for the computer part to present pitch material of which the flutist is incapable, such as a long glissando, quickly-changing microtones, or pitches that extend beyond the flutist's range. The same kind of conditions exist with most elements; the computer is capable of moving more quickly and more slowly than the flutist, of reaching dynamics that the flutist cannot, and executing extremely complicated rhythmic gestures that may be beyond the ability of the flutist. Meanwhile, the flutist is capable of certain expressive gestures that, arguably, the computer is not. The amount of programming required to match certain expressive gestures of a live musician is still daunting enough that it is probably fair to say that the computer tends to avoid the subtlety, the sophistication, the inconsistency, and the unexpectedness of the human expressive gesture. It is certainly common practice to program very subtle gestures in the computer part, and even to attempt to match the human gestures, (for example, attacks and decays, inconsistency of sound during a note, changes of dynamic and frequency, and vibrato). It is not common, though, nor necessarily even desirable to attempt to match a human performer exactly. Flutist Elizabeth McNutt enjoys an aspect of flute playing that is similar to the computer sounds; the fact that the audience cannot see how the flutist is actually producing the sound. "People can't see what you're doing inside your mouth." [57

In the pieces discussed in this dissertation, there are various ways in which the computer part relates to the flute part. At some points, the two parts are treated as equal partners, the parts being interdependent and complementary. Mario Davidovsky's Synchronisms No. 1 exemplifies this in the middle section of the piece. In Diane Thome's Bright Air / Brilliant Fire, the tape part serves more as a backdrop or an environment for the flute lines, supporting the flute in dynamic and motivic changes but very rarely exchanging or sharing gestures. In Bret Battey's Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion, the tape part is an accompaniment in the conventional sense, while being intricately tied to the flute in melodic and rhythmic material. The relationship in Linda Antas' A River from the Walls evolves mostly around timbre and texture, and less around highly defined gestures. Exchange, by Richard Karpen, involves some very close relationships and tight synchronization between the flute and tape part, and during the second and third sections of the piece the flute and tape are interdependent and equal partners.

When using interactive technology or live electronics, the relationship between the two parts becomes closer and more interdependent. In these pieces, the concept of being "interactive" means that the electronic part is dependent on the flute for some of its own material. This means that the electronic part does not have independence, and then, as in any co-dependent relationship, the flute is also not independent from the electronic part, even though the flute does not derive its sounds from the electronic part. In certain aspects, compositions utilizing interactive technology show greater dependence and interactivity than conventional chamber music, because the electronic part is programmed to react to the flutist, either through response to sounds or movements, or other stimulus. In the self-reflexivity inherent in the medium, the interactive technology creates a closer relationship of the performer to him or herself — since the performer affects the electronic sounds, there is an aspect of the performer playing with oneself. One of the most exciting things about live electronics is that the computer reacts to the live performance, essentially allowing the performing to lend expressivity to the computer part as well. In discussing whether music for flute and technology is less expressive than conventional music, flutist Patricia Spencer states that in both cases: "there is a musical intention, and the intention can go through the electronic sound or it can go through instruments. I love the expansion of it, but I still feel connected." [58]  Basically, that an instrument is an instrument, whether it be acoustic or electronic.

Some of these same issues are precisely those that we've been hearing and practicing for centuries, because they are simply methods of approaching chamber music. At times, though, the notion of chamber music itself is expanded, since the role of the electronic sounds is sometimes expanded beyond the role of acoustic instruments. To consider this to be conventional chamber music is a bit limited; the qualities of the relationship in electroacoustic music include new characteristics and compositional devices that make this a unique genre of chamber music.

Conception of Electroacoustic Pieces

As mentioned before, a key element in the conception of pieces for electronics and flute is the relationship between the flute and the tape parts, as mentioned above. A slightly different focus is to have some awareness of how the electronic part is composed and how that affects our conception of these pieces as compared with conventional flute literature or non-conventional flute literature that does not include electronics. In this music, the computer (or other technology) is an instrument, and as with all instruments throughout the history of music, this instrument in part informs the music composed for it. The particular capabilities and limitations of computers must be taken into account by the composer. Therefore, the music written for computers will be different, in some ways, from music written for other instruments.

One of the noticeable differences in compositions including computer-generated or synthesized sounds is that the form of the pieces tend to be unconventional, and as I perceive it, they seem to move through time differently. Some of the programming involved in composing music for computers lends itself to thinking in terms of large, evolving gestures; sometimes describing changes in terms of how many seconds the change will take, or simply how one gesture will evolve into the next. There is rarely the same sense of formal repetition, and also rarely the same kinds of development of material. Admittedly, much of this is an extension of serial and post-serial techniques in the twentieth century, rather than being a result of programming in particular. Computers are able to generate and manipulate number sets, and indeed this informs much of the material in computer pieces. Still, the gestures in computer music tend to be large and longer, rather than lasting a few moments as had been the case for so many centuries.

The manner of writing for computers or synthesizers is most likely going to affect the writing for flute as well. In many electroacoustic works, the motives in the flute tend to be longer, tend to undergo continual variation rather than literal repetition, and quite often have an increased focus on timbre and texture. For a performer of conventional repertoire, electroacoustic music may require a shift of attention away from small gestures and frequent literal repetition, and toward greater awareness of timbre, gradual changes in sound and expression, and a more holistic view of the piece.

Part of the concept of music moving through time differently is the concept of cycles and of change. In general, conventional music tends to present material, which is then developed, varied, and explored, and then, in one way or another, make a return to the original material. Often this return is not exact, but there is almost always some restatement of the opening gestures, even if only in terms of rhythm or pitch. On the other hand, a great deal of computer music undergoes change throughout the piece, and doesn't necessarily ever return to any material again. In these cases, there is a sense of having gone on a journey and ended in a new location, as opposed to having gone on a journal and returned home. Flutist Patricia Spencer observes that a major change computer has made in music is "the rate of change of timbre." [59]  This, of course, is very subjective and generalized, and based mostly on my personal observation. In any case, it is clear that the experience of time in much computer music represents a different concept of music compared to that of most of western music.

Electronic Sounds

Another experience of a flutist being introduced to electronic music is that of new sounds. One of the most interesting aspects of synthesized music is that of the timbral domain, and the ability to synthesize sounds that are not found in natural acoustic settings. Even sampled sounds, which are created acoustically, are usually manipulated and changed to become something not heard in the acoustic universe. Also, the technology has been constantly changing ever since its beginning more than a century ago; the sounds produced electronically have themselves been evolving constantly, making for a large number of new sounds for any performer or listener to contend with. The sounds have changed from the early sounds of oscillators and reverb units in the fifties and sixties, to the microtonal scales, sophisticated samples, and complicated algorithms of the current aesthetic. Acceptance, understanding, and familiarity of these sounds are becoming more commonplace, and because of contemporary familiarity with technology in general, assimilation of these sounds into our idea of music should present only a minor challenge.


Throughout the twentieth century, "art" music saw an evolution of scoring music as the musical techniques and concepts changed. Electroacoustic music also utilizes unconventional scoring, both for the acoustic instruments and in scoring for the electronic parts (when this is done). Most often, the flute score contains notation or description of tape cues, rather than a complete score of tape sounds. This is in part because conventional notation cannot account for many electronic sounds and no adequate means of notating electronic sounds has been developed. The "score" used by the composer may consist of a computer language, a diagram of a succession of sounds, or a graphic representation of textures, for example.

For the acoustic performer, the most important aspect of the score, besides the acoustic part, will be a manner of synchronizing the instrument with the electronic part. Composers have addressed this need in various ways. Some have provided descriptions of the tape sounds in words, as in Diane Thome's Bright Air / Brilliant Fire. Some have presented as full a score as possible (e.g. Battey's Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion). Still others provide timings in minutes and seconds in order to synchronize the parts (Antas' A River from the Walls and Karpen's Exchange).

Another expansion in the scoring of these pieces became necessary with the advent of extended techniques. Most often, the composer will provide a key at the beginning of the composition explaining the scoring and describing the technique desired. Some compositional devices, such as indeterminate pitches or vamped phrases, are also explained in this way. Because unusual notation became increasingly necessary throughout the twentieth century, performers have become fairly accustomed and open-minded about approaching unusual scores.

Extended Techniques

Composer Richard Karpen believes that extended techniques are not only a natural extension of the flute's language, but necessary to expanding this language. He sees the use of technology and of manipulation of flute sound electronically as another mode of extended technique. "flutists should be involved in the new derivations of instruments. Electronics extend to techniques of the flute. There's an evolutionary process that flutists should be a part of." [60

The growing repertoire of electroacoustic music for flute makes extensive of use of extended techniques. Extended techniques are usually described as being techniques on a given acoustic instrument that are unconventional and usually limited to usage in modern repertoire. By definition, extended techniques are not taught as part of the standard flute pedagogy, and flutists are not expected to know how to execute these techniques except under special circumstances. The definition does not include any description of difficulty level, and indeed many of the techniques are not very difficult, just unusual. Flutist Patricia Spencer lauds the use of extended techniques: extended techniques "expand the vibrancy of the language, it colors all of the pieces that we play." [61]  Among the extended techniques that a flutist may come across are multiphonics, key clicks, percussive vocal sounds, tongue rams, harmonics, flutter-tonguing, singing while playing, whistle or whisper tones, residual tones, jet whistle, glissandi, tremolos, microtones, pizzicato, circular breathing, aeolian sounds, altissimo register notes, and a few other sounds. Some of them are fairly standardized, and familiar to many flutists, such as harmonics and flutter-tonguing, while others may be indigenous to a particular piece, such as in the percussive vocal effects in Linda Antas' A River from the Walls.

There are a few resources that describe these techniques in detail, show various notations for each technique, and discuss methods of accomplishing these techniques. Two recommended sources are Present Day Flutes by Pierre-Yves Artaud and Gerard Geay [62]  and The Other Flute: A Performance Manual of Contemporary Techniques by Robert Dick [63]. In each of the analyses in this dissertation, I will give a brief description of each of the expected extended techniques, and perhaps a brief discussion on possible practice techniques for these. In general, though, I will leave a more thorough exploration of these techniques up to the individual.

Extended techniques are not as daunting as they sometimes seem. Most of the techniques are no harder to execute than conventional flute techniques like triple tonguing, dynamic and pitch control, or varied vibrato. It has been said that flutists that play modern music are expected to dedicate a great deal of time to learning these techniques. I think this is far from the truth, and that some basic familiarity and normal practice will render these techniques quite controllable and comfortable.

Practice Techniques

After each analysis in this paper, I discuss possible practice approaches to the piece, with particular attention drawn to the difficulties that the piece presents. In general, approaching a piece of electroacoustic music including flute will be much the same as approaching a conventional piece. The flutist can benefit greatly from standard practice techniques, such as beginning slowly, playing outline sketches of phrases or sections, and breaking the music down into small sections. It is important to remember, as Elizabeth McNutt reminds us, "one method that works for a certain kind of piece, doesn't work for another." [64]  There are a couple areas that may require a slightly modified or expanded approach to practice, though: those of extreme speed, and those in need of imposed groupings.

On the other hand, though, as Richard Karpen states, electronic music is an area that "requires rigor." [65]  A fair amount of new music for flute contains some very fast, technical passages, and expect a great deal of finger and embouchure agility of the flutist. There is a possibility that these technical passages will push the limit of a particular flutist's abilities, and that by practicing without extra attention the player will reach an insurmountable barrier. In working on Richard Karpen's piece, Exchange, I discovered that I needed to modify my approach to the fast, technical passages in order to be successful. When I first worked on these extremely fast passages, I also practiced these in a conventional way. I knew that eventually I would need to reach a speed where each slash articulated a second of time, and could plan on putting the metronome eventually to a quarter note = 60. In a particular section in the middle of the piece, all of the beams were in groups of nine notes, so I decided to subdivide into three groups of three notes. The metronome speed could be subdivided into thirds also, giving me a goal tempo of 180 beats per second. I was able, in the beginning, to play the entire passage at about 120 beats per second, so I started there. If I was able to play the passage perfectly three times in a row, then I moved the metronome up a notch to the next setting. Gradually I worked up closer and closer to the desired tempo. Surprisingly, this only worked to a certain extent; I found that once I reached about 166 on the metronome, I simply could go no further without making mistakes. At first, I wondered if this was simply the limit of my capabilities, and would not be able to successfully play this passage up to tempo. In the end, I did find a solution, though; in fact, I was able to play the passage perfectly at far beyond the required tempo. Ultimately, I reached a metronome speed of 208 beats per second for the subdivisions, which would equal just over 69 beats per minute when not subdividing (faster than a second per slash). What I had discovered was that my manner of playing posed physical limitations that I was unaware of until I had attempted this particular challenge. The solution lay in playing differently, by playing with extreme relaxation in the body, especially the fingers. I found that I had to start far more slowly than I had originally (in fact, at half of the speed of my original beginning tempo) and this time make sure that I was completely relaxed as well as completely confident before speeding up. It had been tension in my fingers and body, tension I was completely unaware of, that had caused binding and sluggishness in my playing. Once I had recognized this and addressed it, I was able to develop a much more fluid and relaxed technique, and ultimately play the phrase correctly. This, of course, improved my playing not just of this piece, but of everything I attempted thereafter.

Another area of difficulty in some electroacoustic pieces is the need for groupings that are not indicated by the composer. Many if not most of the pieces in this genre are not furnished with meter indications, and often this results in groupings other than the conventional three or four notes per group. In fact, quite often the flutist may encounter groups of between nine and fifty notes under a single beam. From the composer's perspective, this is entirely appropriate — subdividing the groups might cause pulsing or accenting in places that should not be, and breaks up what should be a large gesture into several smaller gestures. From the performer's point of view, though, it is rather unwieldy, if not impossible, to think of notes in groups this large.

According to many psychological studies, human beings normally perceive items in groups of three or four, and the limit is usually about seven. Hence, the division of phone numbers into groups of three plus four. While a composer may not want the listener to experience a group of notes with divisions of this sort, it is quite possible for the performer to impose divisions that are imperceptible to the listener yet make the music more approachable for the performer.

Basically, the idea is to divide up any large group into smaller groups of three or four notes. The method of division can be based on contour of the notes, or based on dividing the large group up into equal divisions (for example, primarily triplets), or a common-sense mix of the two. To be most effective, each small group should then be practiced in isolation from the others in order to render it a discernible unit. This is akin to creating words out of letters, and in the end, reading the word as a whole, rather than letter by letter, which is clearly ineffective and inefficient. It is just as inefficient to read music note by note, so distinct groupings are necessary. Usually, a small group is identified by its shape and by its starting and/or ending note.

Once the small group is understood and is playable, it can be combined with the small groups surrounding it. Gradually, the entire phrase can be rebuilt, this time of units that are understandable and playable. The flutist can mark these divisions on the score; usually brackets are sufficient to delineate the groupings. After this has been done, the flutist may want to take care not to accent according to these groupings, which have not been made for expressive purposes.

New York flutist Patricia Spencer mentions two extremely methods of practicing: what she calls "thought practice" and singing. A technique that I've found extremely effective is to sing the music, to come to understand it in this way. Also, to sing while playing reinforces this, while it helps build a flexible embouchure and resonant sound. Ms. Spencer recommends: "One thing that I do that I think is extremely helpful is that I sing it. Probably at one time or another I've sung every measure of every piece I've played. It helps internalize the music in a way that doesn't happen if it's on the flute." [66]  Thought practice involves looking at the music, and without even touching the flute, imagining the way the fingers will move, the pressure, the tonguing and the breath, and the embouchure. Then, one should imagine each note, the attack, the contour, the distance between the notes, the phrases, sing the pitches, and fix the mental mistakes before they actually become physical mistakes. Many performers recommend avoiding listening to a recording, because it can take away the opportunity to make the piece your own, to understand it in your own way. Ms. Spencer does not use a recording to practice, only listening to a recording in order to see what the piece is like in the first place before deciding to learn it. She does practice whistle tones and harmonics every day. "Performers that do a great deal of new music incorporate extended techniques into their daily practice routine. When working on a piece that is heavy in a certain technique, then an exercise on that technique will become part of the routine. not all extended techniques become part of a daily routine, though." [67

Aside from conventional practice techniques and the two other techniques mentioned above, I advise a very substantial amount of score reading. I believe that a lot of bad habits and mistakes can be avoided if the flutist prepares well by studying the score extensively before even beginning to play the piece. This will also help the flutist to avoid mistakes that are a result of erroneous expectations. It is helpful to have an understanding of the piece in musical, structural, and gestural ways, before being distracted by the concerns of actually playing the instrument.

Musical Analysis

When a flutist intends to perform a particular piece of music, it is usually very informative to spend a certain amount of time analyzing the various components of that piece. An insight into the building blocks of the piece, as well as to the composer's intentions, positively affects the understanding and the subsequent performance of the piece. Performers that make a habit of analyzing pieces find that it becomes a fairly quick and easy task with experience. In this dissertation, I have analyzed in depth five pieces of electroacoustic music for flute. I had the good fortune of personal communication with each of the composers; each of them has had input, has proofread, and ultimately approved the analysis. I can now confidently offer these analyses to other interested composers and performers.

In attempting to organize my thoughts about the pieces, I would begin by looking for an overall structure or form. I made decisions about form based on major changes in speed, repetition, gestures and motives, rhythm, pitch, dynamic, range, and texture. Usually the sections were separated by three main characteristics: 1) a significant change in speed, 2) cessation of repetition of certain motives and introduction of new material, and 3) silence or very long notes used to end or begin a section. All of these pieces included in this paper are divided clearly into three main sections. Most pieces seem to divide into between two and four sections. These sections, then, are analyzed for division into subsections, based on the same parameters, but consisting of less extreme change. The number of subdivisions tended to vary more, from two to eight subdivisions in a given section.

Also, for each piece I addressed the electronic sounds separately from the flute sounds. It is helpful to recognize and identify the various sounds used, and become familiar with their repetition, evolution, timbre, texture, pitch and rhythmic content, range, register, and relative loudness. These sounds are going to be clearly less familiar to the flutist than the flute sounds, and isolated focus can help to familiarize and orient the flutist. The sounds from one tape piece to another can vary so greatly, and often are challenging to describe verbally, so my discussion is only a way to begin thinking and talking about these qualities.

In discussing the pitch and interval content, I first looked for repetition of interval, contour, motives, and of specific pitches. Again, all of the pieces have very different approaches to the pitch material. Bret Battey's Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion, for example, uses a small number set as a starting point for some of the pitch material, and then varies this through changes in contour, register, and rotating of the set. Diane Thome's Bright Air / Brilliant Fire has a conservative use of pitch materials, with a very small number of pitches and intervals, with a great deal of repetition; in fact, it is in almost minimalist in some ways. The pitches are not based on number sets, but have identity in register, number of repetitions, emphasis by location and length, and association with other pitches. Both Antas' A River from the Walls and Karpen's Exchange derive much of the pitch material of both the flute and computer part from algorithms, which then are modified to suit their aesthetic wishes. In both pieces, incidentally, the computer parts were written before the flute parts, so the algorithms were first used to determine pitch in the computer part, and then the flute part was composed to expressively fit with this. Mario Davidovsky's Synchronisms No. 1 shows the influence of serial techniques, but it is not strictly serialized. Long sets of pitches with no repetitions are used a few times in the work, which look suspiciously like a twelve-tone row. But upon closer inspection, none of these rows are repeated, developed or manipulated; the highly chromatic lines are more aptly considered the language of the piece than a particular technique. Still, in this piece, certain pitches and intervals carry more emphasis than others, and support a strong formal continuity.

The rhythmic content in these pieces is sometimes challenging to discuss, in large part due to the lack of meter, barlines, or conventional rhythmic relationships, and also due to the large gestures in place of small, repeated gestures. In the pieces by Thome and Battey, the rhythms are repeated with great frequency and are tightly controlled, and serve as the main structural component of the pieces. The rhythms change significantly from one section to the next, and there are very few distinct rhythmic motives. On the other hand, the pieces by Davidovsky, Karpen, and Antas contain a great deal of rhythmic variety, almost to the point of randomness. The rhythmic unity is better described in these pieces as being defined by similarity of speed, contour, articulation, and range of the gestures, rather than of precise motives. Also, each piece has a larger rhythm, related to the form, and in all five pieces the smaller rhythmic gestures serve the larger idea of how the piece moves through time. Sometimes the gestures will contain increasingly smaller note values, which tend to propel the piece forward. At other times, very long, sustained tones are sounded, which tend to pull back or even stop the motion. Compared to conventional flute literature, these pieces have a sense of breathing and of ebb and flow. Because there is rarely a sense of pulse in these works, the focus is brought toward the larger movement and less focus placed on isolating each gesture.

Also, the use of both range and register plays an important part in each of these works. The sections are often defined in part by the registers that they primarily occupy, as well as by how broad a range the melodic contour and the textures tend to utilize. In Battey's piece, the first theme is associated with the highest register, while the second theme is associated with the middle register. The development section occupies all the ranges, and the recapitulation returns to the highest register. In Thome's Bright Air / Brilliant Fire, the first and third sections span the entire range of the flute. The second section shows a movement from an extremely narrow range in the middle register to an expansive range about two-thirds of the way through, to a moderate range in the highest register at the climax. Thome also associates certain pitches with a register; there are some pitches that occur almost exclusively in the third register, for example, while other occurs only in the first register. She uses register to define the character of a pitch, and by extension, of the section or idea.

Antas uses a small range at the beginning of the piece, and a very large range at the end. Especially noteworthy is her use of range at the end to create counterpoint; much like baroque music for solo instruments, Antas divides the line between two distinct registers, creating in effect two separate voices. She also approaches register with an expanded concept in her second section, which utilizes mostly multiphonics. Here she covers a broad range within a single flute sound, much like the highly texturized tape sounds she also uses.

Karpen, much like Thome, uses a broad range in the sections of the piece that are more expansive and seem to breathe more, and in the sections that drive toward the climax, the range is severely narrowed, resulting in highly concentrated and focused sound. Davidovsky tends to span the entire range of the flute throughout the piece, and makes special use of the altissimo notes to delineate sections.

The dynamics and texture, which often go hand in hand, are used much as would be expected. The loudest parts tend to accompany the sections with the most activity, concentration, and intensity. The softest parts are used in times of less motion and more open and light moments. Silence is used in all of the pieces for expressive effect and to separate ideas. Battey uses silence in the most noticeable way; he calls for a sudden silence in the middle of the loudest section of the piece, and articulates the silences by precisely times accented notes in the flute and computer.

The notation of each of the pieces is a combination of conventional and extended notation, with the exception of Battey's piece, which is quite conventional. Extended techniques receive special notation, which is explained in each. Unusual rhythmic devices, such as acceleration, deceleration, or playing as fast as possible, are notated carefully. Battey's piece is the only one to use traditional meter and barlines. Thome and Davidovsky use some barlines, but not in a metrical manner. Karpen and Antas use no barlines at all, and call for the use of stopwatches and notated times for synchronization with the computer. All of the pieces indicate a metronome marking, and the rhythmic values (quarter notes, sixteenths, etc) are based on that, so they are somewhat relative because there is no pulse.

Synchronization is discussed in the analysis for each of the pieces, and practice techniques suggested. Each of the pieces has slightly different challenges in synchronization. Thome's Bright Air / Brilliant Fire leaves such a great deal of room for flexibility, and so few tape cues, that there is for error between cues. Antas' A River from the Walls is the easiest to synchronize, because she has provided stopwatch time and left room for flexibility. Battey's Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion is very straightforward and easy to synchronize, with the exception of synchronizing after long silences and during the climax of the piece. During the climax, the tape part is so highly textured, that it is actually difficult to feel the pulse and there is the possibility of becoming unsynchronized. Karpen's Exchange, like A River from the Walls, is usually easy to synchronize, given the stopwatch times, except that during the middle section, the extremely fast notes are to be synchronized exactly with the computer notes. This is difficult because of the possibility of hitting wrong notes, because of the need to breathe, and also simply the difficulty of pacing. This level of synchronization probably takes the most practice and attention.

The analysis of the pieces did not delve into the timbral domain very much, although it certainly would have been appropriate. A wonderful source for discussing flute and tape pieces in terms of timbre is the dissertation by Christina Perea, still in progress. [68]  For the most part, also, the discussion of these other elements is fairly broad and general, and directed more toward a performer with the possible intention of performing the piece. The analysis was not intended to be discussed so much in a compositional or musicological manner.

Relationship with the Composer

I was extremely fortunate in the writing of this analysis to have close contact with each of the composers, aside from Mario Davidovsky. Originally, I worked on learning the pieces, eventually performing Bright Air / Brilliant Fire, Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion, Synchronisms No. 1 and Exchange in multiple concerts. With the encouragement of my mentors and peers, I expanded this experience into what has become my dissertation. The performance and analysis of these compositions has become an active and keen interest of mine. My relationships with these composers have afforded me immeasurable luxuries and insights, and have informed much of my playing of these pieces. By extension, my experience in this manner has led to a greater understanding of all of the pieces I play, whether by living or past composers.

One of the obvious advantages to communicating directly with the composer is the ability to ask questions, specifically for clarification of notation and expressive intent, as well as feedback on my interpretation. Quite often, their contribution resulted in slight changes to my analysis, and furthered my understanding of the piece. The composers were then able to read and approve the final analysis.

Another advantage of having direct contact was that I was able to speak casually with as well as formally interview each of the composers. In Davidovsky's case, I relied on past interviews with those other than myself, most notably his interview on WNIB Radio in Chicago with Bruce Duffie. [69]  In the interviews, we did not spend much time, if any, discussing the details of the pieces. Rather, we focused on each composer's approach to composition, the role of technology in the music of today, the effect of academia on composition and performance practices, and a general world view and what effect we each have on the world. I am infinitely grateful for the time and interest each composer has contributed to my work, and have grown much through the experience.

Footnotes  (See Bibliography.)

[53] Diane Thome, interview with Bruce Duffie, Seattle, WA 30 July 1987.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Mario Davidovsky, interview with Bruce Duffie.

[57] Elizabeth McNutt, interview with author.

[58] Patricia Spencer, interview with author.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Richard Karpen, interview with author.

[61] Patricia Spencer, interview with author.

[62] Pierre-Yves Artaud, Present Day Flutes: Contemporary Techniques, (Paris: Editions Jobert, 1980), 1.

[63] Robert Dick, The Other Flute 1 (New York: Edu-Tainment Publishing Co., 1978), 81.

[64] Elizabeth McNutt, interview with author.

[65] Richard Karpen, interview with author.

[66] Patricia Spencer, interview with author.

[67] Ibid.

[68] Christina Perea, Christine Perea. Official web site. <http://homepages.nyu.edu/~cib204/dissertation/homepage.html>, May 2002.

[69] Diane Thome, interview with Duffie.

Electroacoustic Music for the Flute by Sarah Louise Bassingthwaighte.
Copyright © 2002 by Sarah Louise Bassingthwaighte. All rights reserved.