Ritual and Memory
Music & Video by Stephen Travis Pope
(Image from the etching Stupa by Drago Druskoviç)
Ritual and Memory - Music & Video by Stephen Travis Pope
 
CD 1: Ritual Places - 5 pieces - 19 tracks - 64:00
[1-6] Kombination XI (A Ritual Place for Processed Voices) - 1978-90 - 14:25
[7-8] Bat out of Hell: Stories for Dance - 1983 - 5:20
[9-11] Leur Songe de la Paix (Their Dream of Peace) - 2001-2 - 10:34
[12-14] Day, An Improvisation, 3 excerpts - 1986/87 - 10:40
[15-19] 4: Ballet Music for My Siblings - 1980-82 - 22:42
CD 2: Dunkelkammergespräche - 3 pieces - 22 tracks - 60:30
[1-10] WAKE: Ten Tangents for Dance - 1979/80 - 17:10
[11-16] Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis - 1984/85 - 13:20
[17-22] Paragraph 31: All Gates Are Open (A National Anthem) - 1991-3 - 30:02
DVD: Video Collaborations - 4 pieces + DVD-ROM contents
[1] WAKE - 1979/80 - 19:30
[2] Leur Songe de la Paix - 2002-04 - 13:34
[3] Eternal Dream: A Ritual - 2003-06 - 22:40
[4] Tour/Sampler of STP's Music - 1978-2006 - 15:00
 
 
Music Copyright © 1978-2006. Stephen Travis Pope. Published by HeavenEverywhere, Santa Barbara, GEMA, Berlin, and Touch Music, London.
CD/DVD production Copyright © 2006, HeavenEverywhere, Santa Barbara.
Program Notes
I intend this music for rituals, prayer, meditation, or to animate imaginary spaces, rather than as “absolute” concert music. Music that is removed from a concrete and relevant social/spiritual context has no life. Music is an abstract language that can nevertheless be used to transmit substantive messages, and, at its best, listening deeply to music can be a powerfully mystical experience.
The pieces in this collection stem from over 25 years work in studios in Austria, France, Sweden, Canada, The Netherlands, Germany, and the USA, using a wide range of composition and production techniques. The CDs are nevertheless each produced as single large-scale works. My most common source is the human voice in prayer. Headphones are recommended for listening, as is darkness.
Like many composers throughout history, I enjoy working closely with instrument builders, and seek out this collaboration whenever possible. Since the most sophisticated and flexible technology applied to musical instruments today is computer software, this means that I have developed my own music programs and programming languages since the start of my career. Most of these pieces were produced using an assortment of this “home-brew” music software. The music/video “Tour” on the DVD in this collection includes a series of images and descriptions of the music software tools I’ve developed since 1978.
CD 1: Ritual Places - 5 pieces - 19 tracks - 64:00 minutes
[Tracks 1-6] Kombination XI (A Ritual Place for Processed Voices) - 1978-90 - 14:25
Slow quiet ritual/liturgical music in six movements for processed voices, base material derived from two speakers reading a poem by Helmut Heissenbüttel. Realized at the Vienna Music Academy, CCRMA/Stanford, Xerox PARC, and the QuickSilver Studios, 1978-90. First performance: STEIM Foundation concert series, Amsterdam, April, 1990.
 
Kombination XI consists of six sections: a prelude, the four stanzas of the poem, and a postlude; it is a ritual or a place where one goes—a mood, environment, and process described in sound. The piece can best be listened to as liturgical music for a ritual that aims to assist the listener in working through his/her un-lived grief. The opening movements take the listener to a separate private space, perhaps to the safest core of his/her personal experience. The “inner” two movements then guide the listener to the darkest part of the heart and back. The final movements return one to the outer world.
All of the sound material for the piece (with the exception of the pedal tone), is derived from the recorded voices of two people (Ingeborg Eva de Fontana and Manfred Bansleben) speaking the text of Helmut Heissenbüttel's poem Kombination XI. The sources were recorded in Vienna in 1978, but the intended realization using magnetic tape processing (the musique concrète process) proved to be intractable, and I had to wait a decade for the advent of computer software capable of processing sound in the manner that the score required; I also needed databases capable of managing the thousands of individual sound files used in the piece. In 1989, it was then possible to translate the score with the HyperScore ToolKit (a computer music software package in the Smalltalk language) into a notation (called TrTrees) based on the generative theory of tonal music.
The sound processing consists primarily of simple pitch-shifting and time-stretching, performed using a phase vocoder by F. R. Moore running on the networks at Xerox PARC and at CCRMA (Sun SPARCstations and NeXT machines, consuming almost 14 CPU-years of compute time). The individual sound files were then mixed using the Dyaxis digital mixer at Stanford; the post-production was done at the QuickSilver Studios in Marin County, California.
 
Text by Helmut Heissenbüttel, Hamburg/Stuttgart, 1956, reused by permission of the Bechtle Verlag (Translation by Stephen Pope, Vienna, 1978).
 
Kombination XI     Combination 11
(1) Die Nacht ist ein Muster aus Bogenlampen und Autorücklichtern.
The night is a pattern of arc lamps and auto tail lights.
Auf der reglosen Fläche der Alster stehen die weissen Fahnen der Nacht.
On the unmoving surface of the river stand the white flags of night.
Unter den Bäumen gehen die Schatten.
Under the trees walk the shadows.
Ich bin’s                It’s me.
(2) Dunkelkammergespräche         Dark-room-discussions
Dunkelkammergedächtnis         Dark-room-memory
Schattengitter über dem schmelzenden Eis
Shadow-grids over the melting ice
Auf Spiegelstelzen stehen die Lichter am Ufer.
On mirror-stands stand the lights on the bank.
Die unbelichteten Stellen verblühen.    The unlight places wither.
(3) All diese Sätze             All these sentences
Das Inventar der Gelegenheiten     The inventory of the possibilities
Vergiss nicht             Don’t forget
Gerede von Schallplatten         Talking on records
Das Gedächtnis von Tonfilmstreifen die abgespielt sind
The memory of sound-film-strips that are played out
(4) Und die Fragen sind die Sätze die ich nicht aussprechen kann.
And the questions are the sentences that I cannot pronounce.
Und die Gedanken sind die Vögel die wegfliegen und nicht wiederkommen.
And the thoughts are the birds that fly away and do not return.
[7-8] Bat out of Hell: Stories for Dance - 1983 - 5:20
Computer-generated tape music in two movements for ballet. Realized at the ComputerMusik Rechenzentrum Salzburg (CMRS) Studio, Salzburg, Austria. First performance: International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), Vancouver, BC, Canada, August, 1985.
Bat out of Hell is essentially a solo percussion piece for a virtuoso with 168 microtonally tuned bells. The two short sections of the work are intended to evoke certain gestures and shadows in dancers.
The ARA LISP expert system was used to generate a computer note-list score in the Music11 language (the ancestor of Csound), which was then played with a set of simple FM bell sounds (i.e., pitch/time/rhythm/gesture are the relevant properties rather than timbre).
[9-11] Leur Songe de la Paix (Their Dream of Peace) - 2001-02 - 10:34
Setting of a text by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-68), three movements for voice, bells, analog synthesizer, orchestral samples, and Morse-code program. Realized at HeavenEverywhere Studio, Santa Barbara. First performance: Primavera Festival, Santa Barbara, April, 2002.
The motivation for Leur Songe de la Paix was to provide the simplest possible setting for several excerpts from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's famous speech Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence, delivered in New York on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination. The title reflects the discouraged hopes of many in the peace movement over contemporary events that make Reverend King’s words from 1967 even more poignant. The texts heard in the third movement as Morse code (thanks to a program by Nitin Solanki) are from the Gregorian chant Ubi caritas (in Latin) and the “Farewell” movement of Gustav Mahler's Song of the Earth (in German),
 
    Where there is charity, and selfless love, God is certainly there.
    [...]
    The sun is disappearing behind the mountains.
    In all the valleys, the evening is taking over,
    with its shadows that are full of cold.
The voice of Dr. King comes from one of the many on-line MP3 files of the speech, this one taken from an LP record (as evidenced by the ever-present record surface noise); the excerpts heard in the piece are heavily edited and do not appear in the same order in the speech. After selecting the excerpts to use, and creating the record noise to make them appear to be contiguous, the background layers were edited to support the rhythms and dramaturgy of the prose. Formally, the piece is a traditional Concerto Grosso in three movements (fast-slow-fast) for hellfire-and-brimstone preacher (solo instrument) and digital samples (continuo accompaniment). The score was processed using the Siren software and the 8S (Siren Speech Segmenter for Sensing/Speaking Space and Sleeping Sword) speech database.
Text: A Time to Break the Silence by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Full text and recording of Dr. King's voice included on the DVD-ROM)
Oh, our government, and the press generally, won't tell us these things, but God told me to tell you this morning: the truth must be told. Oh my friends, if there is any one thing that we must see today, it is that these are revolutionary times. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
I am convinced, that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, then we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries and say, "this is not just." A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order, and say of war, "this way of settling differences is not just." Our only hope today lives in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit.
I have not lost faith; I'm not in despair, because I know that there is a moral order. And don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine messianic force to be, a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgement, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, "You are too arrogant; and if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power." No lie can live forever. We must rapidly begin to shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism, and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.
Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against this war not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example for the world. Men will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and nations will not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war any more, and I don't know about you, but I'm not going to study war any more.
I call on Washington today; I call on every man and woman of good will all over America today, I call on the young men of America who must make a choice today. Take a stand on this issue; tomorrow may be too late. The book may close.
[12-14] Day, An Improvisation, 3 excerpts - 1986/87 - 10:40
Algorithmic improvisation for low-end MIDI synthesizers. Realized at Xerox PARC and the composer's home, Palo Alto.
Day was planned as a 24-hour interactive algorithmic improvisation to be performed live (with computer-controlled MIDI synthesizers) as an installation in multiple city environments (busses, subways, plazas, etc.). It is a positive-thinking soundtrack for the day. The version presented here consists of three short segments from different parts of the day: early morning (5:35); just before noon (3:05); and late evening (2:00)
[15-19] 4: Ballet Music for My Siblings - 1980-82 - 22:42
Minimalist ballet based on a series of children’s dances. Realized at the IRCAM center, Paris and the studios of the Mozarteum Academy, Salzburg with the support of the Salzburg Cultural Council. First performance: Venice, Italy (Biennale di Venezia, ICMC), September, 1982.
The ballet “4” is a mix of computer-generated sounds (taken from a suite of simple children's dances I wrote for my God-children) and recorded sounds (bells, glass, and flowing water). It is intended to accompany dance or performance art, and to celebrate the gifts of life and friendship. 4 is dedicated to my four siblings, and to Jeremias and Sahra Meyer, and Jana and Ratha Druskoviç.
The digital sounds were created at IRCAM using a real-time synthesizer and control interface built by Didier Roncin and controlled by a custom-microcoded DEC PDP-11/60 computer. These were mixed with the natural sounds using musique concrète analog tape techniques in Salzburg.
CD 2: Dunkelkammergespräche - 3 pieces - 22 tracks - 60:30 minutes
[Tracks 1-10] WAKE: Ten Tangents for Dance - 1979/80 - 17:10
Quiet hymns for slow movement. Realized at the University of Toronto Structured Sound Synthesis Project studio (with the support of the Canada Council and the University of Toronto) using a digital synthesizer, ten movements. First performance: Toronto, May, 1980.
The original (graphical) score for WAKE was written for organ solo, and is intended to call our spirit guides into the space where the piece is performed. The electronic version was only possible (at that time) due to the then-novel SSSP digital synthesizer (controlled by a DEC PDP-11/45 computer), which allowed me to transfer and realize the graphical score. There are several materials (including a demo video by William Buxton) on the DVD-ROM related to the SSSP system. The sound fragments used in the computer realization are taken from spoken tones and are processed and spatialized according to phonetical as well as musical grammars. The ten movements are:
    1 - EW (1:17)             2 - ES (1:12)
    3 - ED (1:36)             4 - EF (1:34)
    5 - ER (1:15)             6 - AZ (1:55)
    7 - AX (1:56)             8 - AS (2:16)
    9 - AW (1:49)             10 - AQ (2:17)
[11-16] Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis - 1984/85 - 13:20
Requiem variations for bells. Realized at the CMRS studio, Salzburg and PCS GmbH, Munich, six movements.
The sections of Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis map onto three parts of the requiem mass (Dies Irae, Dies Illa; Lux Aeterna; and Libera me), and are repeated with variations. Requiem is dedicated to my late friend and colleague Stephan Kaske (1962-1985); it was composed with the ARA expert system program. Themes and variations:
    11 - Dies Irae, Dies Illa (2:15)     12 - Lux Aeterna (2:16)
    13 - Libera me (2:13)         14 - Dies Irae, Dies Illa (2:07)
    15 - Lux Aeterna (2:07)        16 - Libera me (2:06)
[17-22] Paragraph 31: All Gates Are Open (A National Anthem) - 1991-93 - 30:02
Symphony of songs in an invented language based on Swedish and LogLan, processed voices of the Kings of Elgaland/Vargaland speaking the heroic poem Sol och Guld. Realized at the STEIM Institute, Amsterdam, the EMS studio, Stockholm and the Swedish Institute for Computer Science, five movements. First performance: KREV vernissage, Stockholm, April, 1993.
All Gates Are Open serves as one possible national anthem for the imaginary or virtual nation of Elgaland/Vargaland (KREV). The title of the piece is taken from paragraph 31 of the constitution of the KREV. The text of the Swedish poem Sol och Guld (Sun and Gold) by King Michael Hausswolff and King Leif Elggren serves as the basis this hallucinogenic text-sound piece that uses the voices of the two poet-kings in a tongue-in-cheek suite filled with Swedish-language puns and word-plays. The sentences that make up the introduction (and the names of the five movements) are:
    Dröm och vaka         Dreaming and waking
    Evigt liv             Eternal life
    Och kärleken             Also love
    En enda sång             All the same song
    Namn, namn, namn         munch, munch, munch
The realization used the Musical Object Development Environment (MODE) software, the TrTrees notation, and several different speech processing packages.
Sol och Guld (by C. M. von Hausswolff and L. Elggren)
Frihet och dygd. Mod och ära. Evigt liv.
Freedom and virtue. Courage and honor. Eternal life.
Folk och stat. Jord och rymd. Sol och guld och evigt liv.
People and state. Earth and space. Sun and gold and eternal life.
Och kärleken. Spira och svärd. Konungen.
And love. Scepter and sword. The King.
 
Fullkomlig frid. Dröm och vaka. Evigt liv.
Completely free. Dream and waking. Eternal life.
Så född och formad. Jag, gud och du.
So born and shaped. Me, God and you.
Räds varken mörker och djävulens hav,
Fear no darkness nor the devil's very center,
varken tid eller plats uti land och i hav.
nor time nor place on land or at sea.
At nu upp din gröt. Namn, namn, namn.
Now go eat your porridge, munch munch munch
Blicken framåt för alla folk och djur
Sight forward for all people and animals
och bakåt på samma gång.        and backwards at the same time
I samma språng.            in the same course
En enda sång.            all the same song
DVD: Video Collaborations
[1] WAKE - 10 chapters - 1979/80 - 19:30
See program notes for WAKE on CD 2. The video consists of a collage of images of the three scores: the original color score for organ, the transcription of this score to the SSSP synthesizer, and the actual transcript of the performance in 1980 (which was captured on one long scroll of paper from a thermal plotter).
[2] Leur Songe de la Paix (Their Dream of Peace) - 3 chapters - 2001-04 - 13.34 - Video by R. Lane Clark
See the program notes for Leur Songe de la Paix on CD 1. The images by R. Lane Clark were painted directly on 35mm slides using a sgraffito-like technique to remove layers of the photo emulsion, then scanned and choreographed into the video presentation.
[3] Eternal Dream: A Ritual - 6 chapters - 2000-05 - 26:20 - Video remix by STP of sources by Erik Pauser and Johan Söderberg
Affirmative symphonic pandemonium for voices and drums, using computer-processed voices, percussion samples, and “circuit-bent” Speak'n'Spell speech synthesizer. Realized in studios in Santa Barbara, Berlin, and Havana. First performance (without video): KREV 10th Anniversary Festival, Stockholm, May, 2002. first performance (with video): Woodstockhausen festival, Santa Cruz, California, August, 2002
My favorite two words of the poem Sol och Guld (see the program notes for All Gates Are Open on CD 2) are “Evigt...dröm” (Eternal Dream), though they do not appear in that order in the poem. For the tenth anniversary of the KREV movement in 2002, the composers who had participated in it over the decade were invited to produce new pieces based on the materials from their original works. This lead to my piece GatesStillOpen, which was released on Touch records in 2003.
Over the next few years, I took to performing GatesStillOpen as a live piece, improvising preludes and postludes to the 4-movement symphonic piece, and performing it together with a remix of video sources taken from the documentary film Lucky People Center International by my friends Erik Pauser and Johan Söderberg. Lucky People Center International is a documentary about the relationships between music, spirituality, and sexuality in the various cultures of the world, and I use their images to “tell the story” of the musical composition. Eventually, these performances evolved into their own piece, and I decided to “freeze” the music, and to re-edit the video from scratch (since videographer Erik Pauser’s only request was that if I used his sources, I create my own visual tempo and leave none of his edits intact).
The other lines of text (in addition to the title) repeated in the piece are the title of an exhibition by Johanna Ekström, “Du wet, Ingen har dott av Kärlek” (loosely: "You know, no one has died of love; no one has ever died of love"), and “vergiss nicht” (”don’t forget”) from Kombination XI.
The subject of Eternal Dream is the human condition—life, spirit, the universe, our angel-guides, and everything (and the answer is more complex than “42”). The piece has the form and semantics of a dream (as does life).
In counterpoint to the human voices, the second theme is sung by a “circuit-bent” Speak'n'Spell toy speech synthesizer courtesy of Brent Lehman. As with most of my music, Eternal Dream has a strict classical form (introductory video essay, prelude, introduction, exposition, development 1, development 2, recapitulation, coda, postlude lullaby) so that it could be called Sonata Allegro in A for Voices and Percussion, opus 18.
[4] Tour/Sampler of STP's Music, 15 excerpts with a video collage of tools and collaborations -- 1978-2006 - 15:00
15 musical excerpts from 9 pieces and a tour of the notations and software tools used to produce them, several clips are included from the video collaborations, as well as a diskography.
Copyrights, Permissions
Kombination XI text Copyright © 1956, Helmut Heissenbüttel, reused by permission of the Bechtle Verlag.
Sol och Guld text Copyright © 1992, C. M. von Hausswolff and L. Elggren.
Leur Songe de la Paix text © 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. License granted by Intellectual Properties Management, Atlanta, Georgia, as manager of the King estate.
Leur Songe de la Paix video Copyright © 2004, R. Lane Clark.
Video sources for Eternal Dream come from the documentary film Lucky People Center International, a film by Erik Pauser and Johan Söderberg, Copyright © 1998 Memfis Film.
Other texts by Albert Goldbarth and Du Fu.
Cover graphics by Drago Druskoviç amnd R. Lane Clark.
All music Copyright © 1978-2006. Stephen Travis Pope. Published by HeavenEverywhere, Santa Barbara, GEMA, Berlin, and Touch Music, London.
CD/DVD production Copyright © 2006, HeavenEverywhere, Santa Barbara.
Many, many thanks to:
New York (1972-77): Richard Factor, Anthony Agnello, Jon Paul, Jeff Sasmor, Bob Moog, Bernie Hutchins, Hwa C. Torng
Vienna (1977-80): Dieter Kaufmann, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Günther Kahowez, Friedrich Heller, Peter Mechtler, German Pizzinini
Paris (1978-80): Gerald Bennett, Ben Bernfeld, Dimitri Iatropoulos, Andy Moorer, Maeve and Jean-François Denis, Didier Roncin, Neil Rolnick
Toronto (1979-80): Bill Buxton, Sanand Patel, Guy Fedorkow
Salzburg (1980-86): Klaus Ager, Cesar Bresgen, Irmfried Radauer, Peter Zinterhof, Michael Meyer, Drago Druskoviç, Hajo Adamer
San Diego (1983): F. Richard Moore, D. Gareth Loy
Munich (1983-86): Jan Witt, Michael Uhlenberg, Richard Cole, Iris Wagner, Dennis Bzowy, Georg Heeg, Stephan Kaske
Palo Alto (1986-92): Adele Goldberg, David Leibs, Russ Pencin, L. Peter Deutsch, Duane Bay, John Chowning, Tovar, Jay Kadis, Fernando Lopez-Lezcano, Patte Wood, John Strawn, Loren Rush, Bob Ohlsson
Amsterdam (1990-91): Michel Waisvisz, Frank Balde, Tom de Meyer, Zbigniew Karkowski, Russell Haswell, BMB Con
Stockholm (1992-93): Lennart Fahlén, Yngve Sundblad, Lars-Gunnar Bodin, C. M. von Hausswolff, Erik Pauser, Johan Söderberg, Olof Thiel, Peter Lundén
Berkeley (1993-96): David Wessel, Adrian Freed, Craig Harris, Thom Blum, Doug Keislar, Guy Garnett
Santa Barbara (1996-2006): JoAnn Kuchera-Morin, Curtis Roads, Shelly Vizzolini, Alberto de Campo, Xavier Amatriain, Alex Kouznetsov, Frode Holm, Sekhar Ramakrishnan, James McCartney
Berlin (2000): Folkmar Hein, Axel Roebel, Martin Supper, Florian Hecker, DAAD
 
For their voices, thanks to Ingeborg Eva de Fontana, Manfred Bansleben, Ernest Chin, BMB Con, Michael von Hausswolff, Leif Elggren, and Susanne Engberg.
Innumerable thanks to my extended family, friends beyond belief, and every Quaker whose path I’ve been lucky enough to cross.
Lastly, thank you Angels (!!) for Barbara Ellen Fields.
Ritual and Memory
(Image from R. Lane Clark’s video for Leur Songe de la Paix)