for two-channel electronic tape

Ascendance is a piece of purely electronic music; that is, all sound materials come from a bank of 16 oscillators with both frequency and amplitude modulation capabilities. It was interesting for me from a musical point of view to return to analog electronic technology, after about six years of working with computer systems whose precision of sound design and compositional structuring had led me away from the intuitive and improvisational methods characteristic of electronic synthesizer use. The piece, although entirely electronic, became a fusion of the two technologies. Its process started with the harmonic/inharmonic timbral ideas that had been explored with computer synthesis, but at the same time, it incorporated all of the "playing by ear" intuition of a composer interacting in real time with his instruments.

The piece begins with a series of inharmonic textures that are gradually submerged by the rather grand entrance of a harmonic timbre/chord, reminiscent of tonal music. The inharmonic timbres, however, reappear towards the end in glissandi, weaving in and out of tune with the basic tonality, suggestive of a meeting of eastern and western musical traditions. A randomly oscillating tone embedded within the final texture, and somewhat dissonant to it, suggests the microtonal ornamentations found in much eastern music. The aim of the piece, however, is to transcend such differences. The rising quality of pitch and spectrum, and the enlarging of the volume and musicl scope of the piece, suggested the title.

Ascendance is available on the IMEB CD Opus 30.

Oscillator banks in Studio Charybde, GMEB, Bourges, France used to create this work.

Ascendance was realized in the studios of the Groupe de Musique Experimentale de Bourges.