Aerial is characterized by an interplay between the solo instrument and the taped sounds in terms of complementary and contrasting sound colours. It attempts a close blending of the horn with the tape, not only in terms of timbre, but also with frequent pitch references, similar rhythms and quadraphonic spatial amplification. The horn is not intended to be heard as a 'solo' voice, but rather as an integral element of a complete environment, sometimes leading, sometimes following, and in the final section, gliding effortlessly on its currents as suggested by the title. The piece is closely related to part II of the composer's Love Songs for voice and tape, and evokes the sense of landscape, mountains, clouds, and lakes as related to the love imagery found in that piece. The work is also inspired by a comment of John Cage that "in landscape there are no inherent contradictions."
The work was written for and is dedicated to James MacDonald. It may be heard on the Cambridge Street Records and Wergo CD Digital Soundscapes as performed by Steven Field.
Both the tape and live part were realized with the composer's POD6 and POD7 programs for computer sound synthesis and composition at Simon Fraser University. The frequency modulated sounds on the tape are embellished with choral effect and are synthesized in binaural stereo. The tape was mixed in the Sonic Research Studio of the Department of Communication at Simon Fraser University.