Hildegard Westerkamp worked with the original World Soundscape Project team at SFU, graduated with an M.A. in Communication, and has pursued an international career as a soundscape composer and educator. Her first studio work, Whisper Study, is based on the sentence "When there is no sound, hearing is most alert" (a quote from the Indian mystic Kirphal Singh in Naam or Word).Except for the distant horns, all sounds were derived from my own voice, whispering the above sentence and the word "silence". Whisper Study started out as an exercise in exploring basic tape techniques in the studio and using the whispered voice as sound material. Eventually, it became a piece about silence, aural perception and acoustic imagination. Whisper Study explores the place or moment where sound ends and its image begins. The poem "When There is No Sound" by Norbert Ruebsaat was written in direct response to Whisper Study. The poem is spoken by the composer inside a soundscape of icicles and footsteps in snow, which originally was created for her radio series Soundwalking on Vancouver Co-operative Radio in 1978/79, and was mixed with the last part of Whisper Study.
John Oswald worked in the Sonic Research Studio during 1974-75 where he produced Burrows with intricate analog editing of the voice of William Burroughs. The sections of the piece are: (1) intro; (2) I got (heard in both directions); (3) Disappeard without a trace; (3) And just let me tell you; (4) Sliding between light & shadow (heard in both directions); (5) duets; (6) So unspeakably distasteful; (7) Word falling; (8) endings. [See also detailed notes on the work by Barry Truax]
Jean Piché holds an M.A. degree in Communication Studies from SFU and is currently on the faculty of the Université de Montréal. His computer music work, La Mer à L'Aube (the sea at dawn) was realized with Barry Truax's POD system for sound synthesis and composition using FM synthesis.
Barry Truax arrived at SFU in 1973 to work with Murray Schafer and the World Soundscape Project and has been teaching in the Schools of Communication and Contemporary Arts ever since. His work Androgyny is based on ideas about an acoustic polarity, namely "harmonic" and "inharmonic," or alternatively, "consonance" and "dissonance." These concepts are not opposed, but instead, are related in ways that show that a continuum exists between them. the work has environmental images associated with it, namely those suggested by the I Ching hexagram, Preponderance of the Small. The reading describes a mountain, a masculine image, hollowed out at the top to enclose a lake, a feminine image. The two exist as a unity. Thunder is heard close by, clouds race past without giving rain, and a bird soars high but returns to earth. The piece was realized with the composer's POD computer music system using FM synthesis.
Anne Holmes is a graduate of SFU with a degree in Communication Studies. Wood on Wood on Water uses recordings from Lighthouse Park near Vancouver as raw material. Seagulls, water and drumming on a beached tree stump are manipulated in the studio through tape feedback, filtering and variable speed control to create rhythmic and textural effects. The course of the piece follows the original environmental sequence of the incoming tide.
Arne Eigenfeldt is an MFA graduate of SFU and is currently on the teaching faculty of the School for the Contemporary Arts. Waiting is a tape work he realized in the Sonic Research Studio while a student. It is based on texts from Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett as read by the composer.
Martin Gotfrit is a faculty member and Director of the School for the Contemporary Arts. His track, Hut20, was recorded directly from the house mixer during the February 15th, 1995 "Annual Evening" of electroacoustic music in the SFU Theatre. Emblematic of his live works of the 1990s, he was playing an electric MIDI guitar whose data fed his algorithmic composition software. The system (named Hut20 after the location in Banff where he first cobbled together the Max code) read the pitches, timing, intensity and controls from the guitar and responded in real-time. Running on a Macintosh Powerbook 100 laptop, Hut20's compositional efforts were realized by a sample player (an EMU Proteus) while the guitar was processed by a Yamaha SPX900.
A Brief History of Electroacoustic Music at SFU
The Electronic Music Studio at Simon Fraser University was founded by R. Murray Schafer when the university opened in 1965, the third such studio in Canada, after the University of Toronto and McGill. It was located in the basement of the SFU Theatre as part of the Centre for Communication and the Arts. Composers such as Schafer, Anthony Gnazzo, Peter Huse, Bruce Davis, Don Druick, Phillip Werren, David Keane and Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux, among others worked there in the early days. Schafer moved the studio to the newly formed Department of Communication Studies in 1972 as the home of the World Soundscape Project, calling it the Sonic Research Studio and giving it a focus on environmental sound recordings. Barry Truax arrived in 1973 bringing an emphasis on computer music synthesis and composition and succeeded Schafer in 1975. With the creation of a contemporary music program a few years later, the studio in the SFU Theatre was revitalized and used for teaching, under the guidance of Martin Bartlett, Martin Gotfrit and Arne Eigenfeldt who added their interest in live electronics. Over the years, both studios have trained countless young composers and hosted international visitors, as well as the 1985 International Computer Music Conference. Numerous national and international awards, as well as published recordings, concert performances and broadcasts around the world have resulted from this activity. This CD can only feature a few of these many composers.