Daniel Harris Music: New Music for New Listeners
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Process Music

Process Music

In the Spring of 1969 I studied with Steve Reich at the New School in New York City. I did this to get as far away from the music that I had been studying at the Eastman School of Music and Yale University School of Music. I found "Eastman Gothic" not to my liking, nor did the serial technics I learned at Yale help me to produce a music that was satisfying to me.  I was looking for someone as exciting to me as the jazz and new music composers I had been incontact with in Chicago.

In our lessons we spoke frequently about "process" as a compositional tool and how it differed from modal, serial or more traditional compositional practices. We also discussed "phasing" techniques which figure prominently in Steve's early tape & acoustic works. Among other topics we discussed was the psychoacoustic properties of repetition and what effects repetition had on the perception of real and imaginary sounds. 

In all fairness, I must say that my prior training was invaluable and no doubt contributed to my early appreciation of Steve Reich's music, as different as it was to any music I had been exposed to at that time, which included a host of musical "mavericks" in my Chicago youth (Cage, Ives, Ruggles, Partch,  Mingus, Monk, Dolphy, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Ornette Coleman, et al).

When I was asked to write works by various performers and conductors, they all asked that I write something in the "Minimalist" style. I never considered the music of Reich, Glass, Riley, etc, minimal in any sense of the word. The sonic and musical worlds opened up by the close listening required of this music was anything but minimal. While there was an attraction to some persons to this music because of it's hypnotic effect, especially when one had medicated themselves, to serious listeners there was a whole cosmos of sound, interactions and developments to discover and enjoy.

My own compositions in this technique I strove to bring a synthesis of traditional performance techniques: articulation, dynamics,  expression; with techniques borrowed from tape music: phasing, delay, echo and looping.  In Holograms  rhythmic and melodic cells are emphasized and enhanced, dissonances and intervals are used to create multiple textures, difference and summation tones, looping and phasing. In Mozart Doesn't Phase Me Anymore for Five Trombone Choirs,  actual tape delays were used to build textures from simple melodic cells based on the Tuba Mirum of the Mozart Requiem. Sopwith Hemke for Four Soprano Saxophones and Tape has the live performers adding expression and articulation to a mobius-like loop of 2, 3 & 4 soprano saxophones. Tempi Modulatus for Solo Clarinet & Wind Ensemble combines traditional conterpoint techniques with tape delay techniques to create metric and tempo modulations that create changing textures and rhythmic vitality.

To see scores of these works click on the title page displayed below and download a pdf of the score. Scores are free. The courtsey of a program and/or an mp3 of any performances would be appreciated. To hear an short version of Holograms, enable the player.


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