- CD 1: Five Ritual Places
- CD 2: Dunkelkammergespräche
- DVD: Video Collaborations
- DVD-ROM Web Site Contents (you're looking at it)
CD 1: Five Ritual Places - 5 pieces, 19 tracks, 64:00 minutes
- Kombination XI (A Ritual Place for Processed Voices) [Tracks 1-6] 6 movements, 14:25. Slow quiet ritual music for processing one’s grief, based on a text by Helmut Heissenbüttel. Vienna/Palo Alto, 1978-90
- Bat out of Hell - Stories for Dance [Tracks 7-8] 2 movements, 5:20. Ballet divertimento for microtonal percussion. Salzburg, 1983
- Leur Songe de la Paix (Their Dream of Peace) [Tracks 9-11] 3 movements, 10:34. Concerto, setting of a text by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Santa Barbara, 2001/02
- Day, An Improvisation [Tracks 12-14] 3 excerpts, 10:40. 24-hour algorithmic improvisation meta-instrument for small synthesizers. Palo Alto, 1986/87
- 4: Ballet Music for My Siblings [Tracks 15-19] 5 movements, 22:42. Minimalist ballet based on a series of children’s dances. Paris/Salzburg, 1980-82
CD 2: Dunkelkammergespräche - 3 pieces, 22 tracks, 60:30 minutes
- WAKE: Ten Tangents for Dance [Tracks 1-10] 10 movements, 17:09. Quiet hymns for slow movement, originally for organ solo. Toronto/Vienna, 1979/80
- Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis [Tracks 11-16] 6 movements, 13:20. Requiem for bells; 3 images and 3 variations. Salzburg/Munich, 1984/85
- Paragraph 31: All Gates Are Open [Tracks 17-22] 5 movements, 30:02. A national anthem in an invented language. Amsterdam/Stockholm, 1991-93
DVD: Video Collaborations - 4 pieces, 75:00 minutes
- WAKE - 10 chapters, 19:30. Animated score by STP. Toronto/Vienna, 1979/80
- Leur Songe de la Paix - 3 chapters, 13.34. Video by R. Lane Clark. Santa Barbara, 2004
- Eternal Dream: A Ritual - 6 chapters, 26:20. Affirmative symphonic pandemonium for voices and drums Santa Barbara/Berlin/Havana, 2000-02, Video by S. T. Pope based on sources by Erik Pauser and Johan Söderberg. Santa Barbara, 2003-05
- Tour/Sampler of STP’s Music - 15 chapters, 15:00. Excerpts from 9 pieces with a video collage of the scores, software tools and a diskography.
A review of the music on the Ritual and Memory 3-disc release appeared in Computer Music Journal 34(3). It was written by by composer Gareth Loy and John Snell (founding editor of Computer Music Journal). Here are some excerpts.
[Ritual and Memory, a] "breathtakingly broad swath of musical aesthetics and music technology"
"The composer consistently finds compelling ways of adapting and combining media and tools to his compositional aims" and "projects a fluid and engaging rhythmic and harmonic sense"
"Such accessible works are actually quite difficult to make convincing, but Mr. Pope's imagination for movement and dance easily carries the listener along."
"Wonderfully resonant bell-like sounds ring with a vibrant acoustic quality somewhat reminiscent of the tamboura or the drone strings of a sitar. The music moves spatially in a playful manner, somewhat like African Mbira playing"
[In All Gates are Open,] "the sonic landscape is pristine"
"As [Ritual and Memory] demonstrates, he has sustained a long and successful career as a composer and music technologist. Yet what arises to the surface from beneath all the technology, all the musical prosody, all the compositional algorithms and experimentalism, is Mr. Pope's spiritually informed humanity. He says, "Listening deeply to music can be a powerfully mystical experience." He knows whereof he speaks."
Other comments from composers: This is deep
electroacoustic music - [Leur Songe de la Paix] is rivetting! - [Gates Still Open] is a tour de force!
See also here
On the DVD-ROM & Web Site
- The Tour folder has information on the Ritual and Memory DVD, its navigation, and screen shots, as well as links to the Tour/Sampler movie (recommended for first-time visitors).
- The Images folder contains the images used in the Tour/Sampler video (and then some). The images are score examples from my music and screen shots of the software tools I use, and there is a web index.html file here for browsing the images.
- The folder Leur Songe includes texts from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. related to the piece Leur
Songe de la Paix, with their own HTML index files and copyright notices. There is also an MP3 file containing a recording of the original speech Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.
- The Sound Bites folder has sub-folders with a set of short (10-20-second) sound bites suitable for use in looping or as broadcast ID clips. The index.html web page allows you to select and audition these sound files. Also here are extended trippy versions of the excerpts from Day as well as a special free download of three entire pieces (4:
Ballet Music for My Siblings, Eternal Dream: A Ritual, and Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis) as MP3 files.
- The WAKE folder contains Bill
Buxton's demo video of the SSSP synthesizer at the University of Toronto, ca. 1979.
- The Promotional folder includes a collection of promotional and background materials as HTML files.
- The Program Notes are also available as HTML here or as PDF here. The PDF file has 4.5-inch square pages, good for viewing or printing 4-up or 6-up on the screen or page.
- There is also a sound file of the pedal tone from Kombination
XI for use in performances with a live reading of the text (i.e., if you have a live reading of the text, play this pedal tone and cross-fade to the CD of the piece after the reading).
Introduction to the Program Notes by Tom Lane
Ritual and Memory is not so much a survey of Stephen Pope’s music as it is a reframing in an unfolding series of sound and visual dreamscapes. This music invokes the greater self that communicates with us in dreams, as well as the rituals through which we communicate with that greater self. Since what we perceive is already past by the time we become aware of it, experience is actually a memory— a waking or sleeping dream. These works, as the collection’s title indicates, are memories and rituals, which is to say they are dreams meant to wake us up.
Angels are everywhere in Rituals and Memory, and though angels are currently in danger of becoming trivialized “New Age” celebrities, Stephen Pope’s music restores their mystery and power. Perhaps angels run through Rituals and Memory because angels, according to mystics from Plotinus to Swedenborg, are in fact everywhere. They are divine messengers immanent in all that we perceive, and who embody what they communicate—just as this music does.
“Jeder Engel ist schrecklich.” (Every angel is terrible.) Stephen’s musical angels are also Rilke’s—sublime, with a terror and beauty that emerge out of and are inseparable from one another. The “quiet ritual music for processing one’s grief,” “hymns for slow movement,” and requiems we find here demonstrate a keen awareness of Virgil’s “lacrimae rerum” (the tears of things). Yet, as in Eternal Dream’s “affirmative symphonic pandemonium,” Stephen obviously believes in the cosmic giggle. These angels are as interested in play as they are in leading us to back to our existential cores. Perhaps they want to show us that these two activities are quite the same.
Stephen is clearly also a rock fan, although the influence of the musics he loves is usually more subliminal than obvious. Day: An Improvisation is a bubbling spring of not only gamelan but Sunshine Pop. Bat Out of Hell, a rhapsody for bells, draws on “classic rock” and heavy metal. It reminds us that many of the epitomes of the form, from Led Zeppelin to Iron Butterfly, evoke a Wagnerian marriage of opposites, of the graceful and the grave. As does 4: Ballet Music for My Siblings’ soothing but mind-bending juxtaposition of the languid and the staccato.
These pieces return repeatedly to the musicality of the spoken voice, never more so than in Paragraph 31: All Gates Are Open, a hymn in an invented language. (There’s that cosmic giggle again, emanating from the polity of the imagination.) Leur Songe de la Paix makes one of Martin Luther King’s most radical speeches a prophetic jeremiad, turning multiple sonic foils into a setting capable of reminding us of the power of oratory in a time of “aw-shucks” doublespeak. Stephen’s compositions— and this one is no exception—are inseparable from his Quakerism, breathing life back into the homily that the personal is the political.
Stephen’s music persists at the edge of a self-inventive technology featuring myriad new programming languages and sound synthesizers, but his engineering is a feat of bricolage that never loses its sense of human—and angelic—connection, whether through the voice in speech and song or the body in dance. The recurrence of bell tones evokes church and college carillons as well as the etheric, electronic emanations of a mind turned inside-out.
And how about those videos? The DVD tour of Stephen’s scores—surprisingly readable even for the uninitiated—brings its own intellectual pleasure, as well as intimations of a synesthesia that is fully plumbed in the graphical score of WAKE and above all in Eternal Dream: A Ritual. Comparisons to Koyaanisqatsi and its brethren are inevitable here. But, by way of equally remarkable contrast, the underlying tone of Stephen’s work is always uplifting, though never superficially so.
Even the terrifying aspects of Stephen’s angels are cathartic, resonating the dream from or to which we are trying to awaken with good vibrations. To paraphrase Chuang-Tzu: “Are we dreaming the angels or are they dreaming us?” Or are those angels and we listeners but two sides of the same coin, like waves and particles or form and emptiness? When we listen to Stephen’s music, we get a glimpse—or take a sounding—of the answers to these questions.
Tom Lane, Ojai, California, August 2006
Original Label Images (click to enlarge)
| || || |
|CD 1: Five Ritual Places |
|CD 2: Dunkelkammergespräche |
|DVD: Video Collaborations |
|Front Cover |
|Rear Cover |
DVD Menus (click on image to enlarge)
| || |
| || |
| || |
Paix Menu |
To hear MP3 sound examples, go
to the sound bites page.
For more screen shots of the videos, see the Tour/Sampler
For more material and technical references, see http://HeavenEverywhere.com/RitualAndMemory
Stephen Pope, HeavenEverywhere, Ojai, CA