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

Chapter IX


I am always grateful for the inspirational and exciting work that others are doing in the field of electronic music. I am particularly thrilled to find that there are so many flutists and composers contributing to the body of music for flute and electronics. During the course of the writing of this dissertation, I have discovered hundreds of works for flute and electronics, and have become familiar with a few composers and performers who have dedicated a great deal of time and energy. Throughout history a few individuals have made an enormous difference in shaping future events, and I am optimistic that the literature for flute will continue to grow, as will the number of composers and performers involved.

Contemporary composers writing electronic music not only create and perform new works, but they also work to reach out and make the works known and available to the general public. Also, many of them have used the spoken and written word, publishing analyses and articles, to reach those that may not attend concerts. Many flutists and composers have recorded these works, and made them quite accessible. Through programming and performing, many listeners, including other flutists and composers, will be exposed to this music, and thus will electroacoustic music will become assimilated into the repertoire. The National Flute Convention (NFA), the Society of Electroacoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS), and the International Computer Music Association (ICMA), have all made an enormous impact by commissioning, awarding, and programming electroacoustic works for flute. According to composer Richard Karpen, a professional flutist, and especially one earning a DMA in flute performance, holds the responsibility to not only:

"play modern music, but you promote it...a flute DMA should not only be learning the modern masterworks, they should be working with composers to develop new techniques. They should be right in there, in the trenches." [93]

He also believes that every instrumentalist should "know the acoustics" of their instrument. [94]

There are some widely known flutists that, while not necessarily promoting electroacoustic music in particular, help the field to advance by generally promoting the performance, programming, and composition of new works. Some of these flutists include Robert Aitkin, Robert Dick, Patricia Spencer, James Galway, Jill Felber, Alexa Still. In Seattle Felix Skowronek, Paul Taub, Pamela Ryker, and Zart Dombourian-Eby are active in performing and / or commissioning such works. There are a few flutists in the United States who have dedicated themselves with particular focus to electroacoustic works including flute. Among these are Elizabeth McNutt, Linda Antas, Christina Perea, Patricia Spencer, Maggie Payne, and Cecile Daroux,. This is not at all to say that there aren't many other extremely talented flutists out there also spending enormous amounts of energy and effort towards this end; unfortunately, I am only able to refer to those with whom I am the most familiar. I offer my sincere appreciation for all of us out there that are enjoying and playing this music. A motivation that many flutists have for working in this arena is their joy in working with composers. [95]  Elizabeth McNutt offers: "the biggest thing for me is collaboration, being able to work with composers an create new pieces. I love working for and with composers." Patricia Spencer, a teach at Bard College and flutist with the New York Da Capo players, says, "I love being in touch with the creator of the language." [96]

Recently, electroacoustic works for flute have been included on audition lists for international competitions. European musicians tend to be more active in the field than the American counterparts, but there are an increasing number of Americans who are not only interested, but who are highly skilled. Most conventional competitions and festivals, though, still do not include electronics for any instruments. In 1997, Diane Thome was asked to write a piece for the Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity. She agreed on the condition that she be allowed to write a piece for electronics plus an acoustic instrument. She related that they were surprised, and hadn't commissioned or even considered an electronic piece before, but in the end agreed and were pleased with the result. [97]

Most performers of contemporary flute music agree that their experience with new music performance significantly and positively impacts their performance of conventional music. Elizabeth McNutt states: "I absolutely believe that it improve's one's conventional playing....it really develops your flexibility." [98]  She also sees this music as an opportunity to experience new literature, that music for flute and technology "expands the flute literature, provides more repertoire" for flutists, which is very welcome considering the limit of conventional repertoire. [99]  Flutist Patricia Spencer also expresses her belief that it has changed her approach: "I think it has expanded the ideals, the freedom I have with the music. Just the fact that the piece is alive, and the piece takes on a life of its own." [100]

Footnotes  (See Bibliography.)

[93] Richard Karpen, interview with author.

[94] Ibid.

[95] Elizabeth McNutt, interview with author.

[96] Patricia Spencer, interview with author.

[97] Diane Thome, interview with author, Seattle, WA, 31 May 2002.

[98] McNutt, interview with author.

[99] Ibid.

[100] Spencer, interview with author.

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