Trevor Wishart (b. 1946)
1.Red Bird (45:07) (1977)
Voice [Female] – Pippa Pierce , Poppy Holden
Voice [Interrogator] – Graham Treacher
Voice [Male] – Hugh Bernays , Trevor Wishart
2. Anticredos (17:18)
Bass Vocals – Paul Hillier , Richard Wistreich , Steven Jackson
Chorus – Singcircle
Conductor [Director] – Gregory Rose
Engineer – Trygg Tryggvason
Producer – Martin Compton
Soprano Vocals – Nicole Tibbels , Penelope Walmsley-Clark
Tenor Vocals – Alan Belk
Trevor Wishart said, “You can now treat sound in the same logical way that we treated pitch before.” And ‘Red Bird’, composed at the University of York (UK) between 1973 and 1977, was one of his breakthrough pieces. ‘Anticredos’ was another.
Red Bird: a political prisoner’s dream made using sound of birds, animals, words & mechanisms, orchestrated into one another in the York University Electronic Music Studio between May 1973 & May 1977. Previously released on LP (YES 7) in 1977.
Anticredos recorded March/April 1982 in the Music Centre, University of East-Anglia, Norwich. Previously released on Mouth Music LP (Hyperion A66060) in 1982.
1. VOX 1
2. VOX 2
3. VOX 3
4. VOX 4
5. VOX 5
6. VOX 6
soprano: Judith Rees
tenor: Daryl Runswick
mezzo: Meriel Dickinson, Mary King, Linda Hirst
bass: Terry Edwards
sound: John Whiting
In 1980 I decided to write a cycle of 6 vocal pieces dealing with many different aspects of what it means to be ‘human’, and using the voice as the focus for this exploration. The new piece ‘VOX’, would begin with the sounds of the creation as suggested in various creation myths from around the world (VOX 1), and lead eventually to the disintegration of human society (VOX 4). In between these two poles, VOX2 would deal with contemplation of the natural world, and VOX3 with the excitement of intellectual exploration itself (through the use of increasingly elaborate rhythmical games). When I embarked on this project I had no idea that it would occupy me for the next 8 years!
VOX is influenced by the imagery of the Shiva myth. The Nataraja, or Lord of the Cosmic Dance, a many-limbed figure dancing in a circle of fire, symbolises the cycle of destruction and recreation of the world. And VOX proceeds to a representation of the voice of Shiva (VOX5) and of Shiva’s dance (VOX6).
The VOX pieces are amplified vocal quartets with or without tape accompaniment. The tape sounds are both musical accompaniment and an environment in which the vocalisation takes place. These sonic landscapes are not ‘photographic’ but landscapes of myth relating to our experience of the world. These sounds are organised musically, to complement the voices.
VOX 1 (1980 – 1982)
premiere Paris Biennale 1985
commisioned by Phoenix
The form of the opening was suggested by the patterns of growth of living organisms. It begins with a seamless stream of vocal sounds, emerging from the tape sounds. This divides into 2, then 4, both sonically and (in the live version) spatially, leading to the counterpointing of detailed articulations of these sounds, and the gradual emergence of speech. The accompanying tape-part employs sounds suggested by various creation myths from around the world. The piece ends with the incantation of a magical text, using some imaginary consonants and vowels. In the live version, the extended vocal sounds move around the auditorium, diverging, coalescing, spinning, and so on, in a precisely scored way.
VOX 2 (1982 -1984)
premiere Paris Biennale 1985
commisioned by Phoenix
VOX 2 is concerned with the detailed inner articulation of vocal sounds, and its relationship to the harmonic context in which this takes place. Vocal techniques used are suggested by Japanese Bunraku puppet theatre, and the vocal music of Mali, together with the songs of birds and wolves, all integrated with extended vocal techniques to form a vocabulary unique to the piece. The tape uses the sounds of insects, frogs, wolves and the Great Northern Diver (Loon), together with more abstracted sources of concrete and electronic origin.
VOX 3 (1985 -1986)
premiere/commission: Mobius Gallery, Boston USA
This piece explores different, and increasingly complex, rhythmic counterpoints in a set of ‘variations’, separated by sections of conversation between the performers. Many of the rhythms used here would be impossible to perform without the use of the computer-generated sync-tracks which act as 1, 2, 3 or 4 synchronised ‘conductors’ of the 4 vocal parts.
VOX 4 (1987)
premiere/commission: Huddersfield Festival
A dramatic scenario for 4 voices, with extensions and interventions on tape. Here extended vocal techniques are used for their dramatic or psychological import. The text used in this work (as for all the previous works in the cycle) is imaginary and composed for its sonic properties. A computer program was was used to extend the original text material, to provide the large volume of vocal utterances required.
VOX 5 (1979 -1986)
premiere INA/GRM Cycle Acousmatique; Radio France, Paris, 1987
Commissioned by IRCAM
An entirely electro-acoustic piece, creates a “supervoice” at front center stage, whose utterances metamorphose into natural events… crowds, bells, trees, and less specific sound event… images of the creation and destruction of the world contained within the “voice of Shiva”. Submitted as project to IRCAM, the computer music centre in Paris in 1979/80, it could not be realised until 1986. Using computer programs I wrote to manipulate sound analysis data from Mark Dolson’s Phase Vocoder program, I altered the spectra of vocal sounds, stretching them (making them bell-like) or interpolating them with the spectra of natural events. The 4 channel version choreographs spatial movement around the auditorium.
VOX 6 (1988)
premiere/commission: BBC Promenade Concerts 1988
VOX 6 is a dance-finale for the VOX cycle. The mood changes abruptly from the ‘sublime’ to the ‘profane’, and the musical style is based on 1980s popular dance music. The non-vocal parts of the tape were made using the Steinberg Pro-24 sequencer. The final sound transformation uses the Phase Vocoder running on the Composers Desktop Project system.
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to the RSS feed!