for brass band and tape — 1985
This piece was very much an experiment for me. It is intended as a tribute to the film director David Lynch, in the form of a reinterpretation of the soundtrack from his remarkable 1977 surrealist film Eraserhead. For this I wanted to make some random textures and chords in place of the original’s variously coloured noise. I had recently started teaching myself to program in BASIC on the computers at the school where I worked, so I wrote a fairly simple program to generate my random sounds in a text form which I could translate into score. (What I was doing was a very crude, naïve version of what Xenakis had been doing for about thirty years!)
An important element of the film’s soundtrack (by Lynch and Alan Splet) was the use of pipe organ recordings by Fats Waller, some of which I transcribed and wove into my textures at the appropriate points. One of them, indeed, Stompin’ the Bug, is completely exposed, so required no such weaving. Probably the best known part of the soundtrack is the song In Heaven, written by Peter Ivers and sung by the ‘Lady in the radiator’. I had already decided to use an optional tape to supplement the band’s textures with some electronic sounds, using my very basic equipment, so I added my own rendition of the song to this. I sang it at as low a pitch as I could in a deliberately shaky falsetto, then slightly raised the pitch of the tape to the correct key. I also specified that if no tape playing equipment was available a singer could be used for the song; and without either the flugelhorn could play the melody.
- soprano cornet in E flat, with straight, cup, harmon & plunger mute
- 8 cornets in B flat, with straight, cup, harmon & plunger mutes
- flugelhorn in B flat
- 3 tenor horns in E flat
- 2 baritone horns in B flat
- 2 euphoniums in B flat
- 2 tenor trombones with straight & cup mutes (tbn 1 also requires harmon)
- bass trombone with straight & cup mute
- 2 basses in E flat
- 2 basses in BB flat
- percussion 1: 2 pedal timpani, semi-damped bell pitched D, tam-tam, 2 temple blocks, snare drum, bass drum
- percussion 2: suspended cymbal, maraca, guiro, woodblock, snare drum, 2 tom-toms
- tape or singer (if neither, flugelhorn plays the song)
Performances / broadcasts / recordings
None so far... anyone?
Listen to MIDI version (10:08)
This a computer-generated mockup of music for ‘real’ instruments. Clearly it is no substitute for a live performance, but it’s all I’ve got — or perhaps all I can make public for various reasons. There’s a fuller disclaimer on the Listen page.
- Sequencer: MOTU Digital Performer (Mac)
- Instrument families mixed down to separate stereo audio tracks, then combined for the final stereo mix with digitised copy of old tape part. Reverb is MOTU ProVerb.
- All open brass: Garritan Concert & Marching Band (host: ARIA Player)
- Harmon muted cornets & trombones: trumpets & trombones from Garritan Jazz & Big Band (host: ARIA Player)
- Timpani: Garritan Personal Orchestra (host: ARIA Player)
- Bell & guiro: IK Multimedia Miroslav Philharmonik (host: jBridgeM)
- Other percussion: Native Instruments Battery 3
- Score: hand-written
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