Tape Pieces

Seven electronic tape works composed at
The Cleveland Institute of Music,
Rutgers University,
or 5 Jones Street, New York

Twilight Flight

Duration 6:56
Premiere: "Eventworks" Show, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA, 26 April 1978.

Too solemn for day,
too sweet for night,
Come not in darkness,
come not in night;
But come in some twilight
When the gloom is soft
and the night is dim.

The foregoing excerpt, which reflects the mood and feeling of the work, was taken from Too Solemn for Day by William Sidney Walker (1795-1846). An English poet who is now primarily remembered as a Shakespearean critic, his studies on Shakespearean prosody and syntax contain a vast wealth of illustrative references to Elizabethan literature. He was also a versatile writer of poetry and prose, especially philological essays.


The first step in composing Twilight Flight was to produce a 17-minute tape of 4 tracks of Moog synthesizer tones that were gradually and constantly changing in frequency, filtering, and echo. Slow variations in rhythm were a natural result of recording each of the tracks separately and each in one continuous operation. Very slight drifts in the tape-recorder speed and the synthesizer pulse were unavoidable and were used as a method of producing rhythm shift. The next step was to create a mixdown of the 4-track tape, adding tape feedback and natural outdoor cricket sounds. Four 2-to-3-minute segments were extracted from the 2-track mixdown and were edited into two tapes. Finally, these were mixed to create the master. The piece was created at the electronic music studios of the Cleveland Institute of Music.

PLAYER FOR MP3 AUDIO FILE (16 MB) (Bitrate 320 KBPS) 6:56

Close Harmony
Duration 4:44
Premiere: Rutgers--The State University of New Jersey, Camden, NJ, 16 February 1979.

Close Harmony is a display of a single four-tone chord (do, re, sol, si) at its original pitch on the left channel and transposed down a major second on the right channel. The piece begins with staccato, low-pitched notes at four different tempi, building up to the full chord. This is supplanted by sustained chords, thinning out to the highest tones alone. A brief coda concludes the work.


Eleven oscillators on a Synthi 100 were tuned to do, re, and sol at various doublings. A unison non-synchronous  tuning of four oscillators at the lowest pitch (do = 60 Hz, about a quarter-tone between Bb and B-natural) yielded the scale-like sweeps typical of phase addition and cancellation. The eleven oscillators were routed, in various combinations, to three envelope shapers. Two of them were set to produce rapid staccato notes, at slightly different rates, and the third was adjusted to create sustained chords. This circuit was used to produce a tape of staccato notes building to the full chord and then to the highest tones. This tape was re-recorded along with additional chord tones (adding si) being performed on the synthesizer. The new tape was edited and re-recorded, first at original speed (left channel) and then 12% slower (right channel) to create the final piece. The large number of oscillators with slight sawtooth-type harmonic distortion, held to precise pitch relationships, the speed and pitch difference between the two channels, and the staccato tones at multiple tempi, all unite to provide a rich sound-texture of pulsation, scaling, heterodyning (beating), vibrato, and tremolo. The piece was created at the Rutgers Center for Electronic Music in Camden, made available thanks to Ronald M. Surak, and at the composer’s studio on Jones St. in New York City using a Korg MS-20.

PLAYER FOR MP3 AUDIO FILE (11 MB) (Bitrate 320 KBPS) 4:44

Duration 4:06
Premiere: New York University, New York, NY, 8 March 1979

Cadenza is made up of instrumental and electronic sounds. The instrumental sounds were taken from a 1973 recording of a work by the composer, Sextet, for clarinet, trumpet, and string quartet. The sounds were extensively edited, but not otherwise processed. Thus they retain their acoustic quality while progressing in an electronic fashion. The piece is in three parts, the second being an extended repetition of the first with added electronic voices. These move in the rapid filigree manner sometimes found in a concerto cadenza.  The third part is a brief coda, repeating the final phrases of the second section, but in the style of the first section.

MUSICIANS: Allen Blustine, clarinet; Ronald Anderson, trumpet; Joel Berman, violin 1; Robert Marks, violin 2; Mary James, viola; Christopher Finckel, cello. Composers' Conference, Johnson State College, Johnson, VT.

PLAYER FOR MP3 AUDIO FILE (9 MB) (Bitrate 320 KBPS) 4:06

Pathways I: Eight Sonic Variations

For Synthesizer, Multi-tap Digital Delay Reverberation Processor, and Tape
Duration 9:50
Premiere: Theatrium Studio, All-Weidenaar Program (for M.A. Degree),
New York, NY, 29 November 1979.

Paulette Sears, Recorded Tap Dancer
Pathways I: Eight Sonic Variations is a live-performance piece for Korg MS-20 Synthesizer and Ursa Major Multi-Tap Digital Delay Reverberation processor, accompanied by a tape of processed tap-shoe sounds. To create the tape part, a 70-second four-part score for tap dancer was composed. It was performed (one part at a time) by dancer Paulette Sears and recorded on multi-track tape at ZBS Studio in Fort Edward, NY. A pair of Wahrenbrock pressure-zone microphones was used to capture a natural spectral balance and a very fast transient response. As the recordings were being made, some tracks were left in their natural state, while others were altered in sound quality with a graphic equalizer and an Eventide harmonizer. Six four-part eight-track recordings were made, some with rhythmic variations. These were mixed down to stereo. The stereo mixes were then processed to incorporate echo, digital delay/reverberation, amplitude modulation, multiple tape-head playback, and flanging—both at ZBS and later at the composer’s studio at 5 Jones St. in New York. Each variation is thus a different tap performance and sonic interpretation of the original score. Both constrasting and similar sounds are presented by the live electronics, which are occasionally triggered by the tape sounds.

Descriptions apply only to the tape part.

0:00 Variation I (varying tremolo and amplitude modulation).
1:16 Variation II (quiet, reflective).
2:26 Variation III (woodblock sounds and location changes).
3:34 Variation IV (silences, slower tempo, more static).
4:50 Variation V (varying echo-send durations, source tape played on two decks simultaneously).
6:05 Variation VI  (flanging).
7:09 Variation VII (varying echo-send durations, cross-channel echo, location changes, spaced reverberation, faster tempo).
8:07 Variation VIII (original ZBS recording, has the least amount of processing).
9:13 Extension (rapid digital-delay changes).
9:36 Coda (phasing, flanging).
9:50 End.


At ZBS Studio: 2 Wahrenbrock pressure-zone microphones, 1 Otari 7800 8-track tape recorder, 1 Eventide harmonizer, 1 Advent graphic equalizer, 1 Philips 12x4 mixer, 1 Nagra IV-SL 2-track tape recorder.
At 5 Jones St. Studio: 3 Otari MS-5050B 2-track tape recorders, 1 Uher 500 5x2 mixer, 1 Ursa Major Space Station digital delay, 1 Korg MS-20 synthesizer, 1 Teac 1 8x2 mixer, 1 Nagra IV-SL 2-track tape recorder.

PLAYER FOR MP3 AUDIO FILE (23 MB) (Bitrate 320 KBPS) 9:50



Pathways II: Seven Sonic Variations

Duration 8:36

Premiere: International Gaudeamus Music Festival, Vredenburg Music Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 7 September 1980

This is a tape-only version of Pathways I. The score is presented in its least altered form in the last variation, which is the only original stereo mix used directly in the final work. Each variation is continuous and unedited. Throughout the entire production process, attention was paid to preserving the natural stereophonic ambience and perspective of the original recordings.


0:00 Variation I (varying tremolo and amplitude modulation).
1:13 Variation II (woodblock sounds and location changes).
2:22 Variation III (silences, slower tempo).
3:38 Variation IV (varying echo-send durations, source tape played on two decks simultaneously).
4:50 Variation V (amplitude modulation, right-channel delays).
5:58 Variation VI (varying echo-send durations, cross-channel echo, location changes, faster tempo).
6:56 Variation VII (Theme) (original, unprocessed).
8:02 Extension (rapid digital-delay changes).
8:22 Coda (phasing, flanging).
8:36 End

PLAYER FOR MP3 AUDIO FILE (20 MB) (Bitrate 320 KB) 8:36



Pathways IV: Fibonacci Loci

Duration 6:16
Premiere: Kinematic Dance Company (Tamar Kotoske, choreographer/dancer), music for Raid, Antioch College, Antioch, OH, 14 November 1980.

This is a tape-only version of Pathways I, organized in sections in which the numbers of beats correspond to the Fibonacci series. This idea was carried further with Night Flame Ritual; for further information, please see the notes for that piece.


Part I, contrasts in echo, near/far presence, and loudness: 144 beats, duration 1:42.

Part II, contrasts in stereophony: 89 beats, duration 1:05.

Part III, slow tempo, 144 beats, duration 3:29.

PLAYER FOR MP3 AUDIO FILE (14.5 MB) (Bitrate 320 KBPS) 6:16



Imprint: Footfalls to Return

Duration 5:04
Premiere: American Society of Composers Region II Conference, Manhattan School of Music, 2 October 1981.

Lauren Paul, Recorded Dancer

Pamela Hinchman, Recorded Soprano

In Imprint: Footfalls to Return, the footfalls are the sounds of the bare feet of a bharata-natyam Indian dancer. Three brief dances were recorded for use as sound-source material. Throughout the piece, the dances are repeatedly presented with various electronic transformations and accompaniments. Synthesizer sounds and occasionally the voice of a soprano are also used, often triggered by the footfalls. The piece was assembled using the “classical” tape technique of speed and direction change, extensive tape splicing, and tape-delay echo. Analog and digital delay were employed as well. The piece is in two equal sections, with parallel studio techniques and musical development used in each section.

PLAYER FOR MP3 AUDIO FILE (11.8 MB) (Bitrate 320 KBPS) 5:04