Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 14 | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University
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David Tudor: Life and Work

  • David Tudor's Apprenticeship: The Years with Irma and Stefan Wolpe
    Austin Clarkson, Eric S. Strother
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    David Tudor's genius was evident from early childhood, but it was not until 1944, when he became a piano student of Irma Wolpe and a composition student of Stefan Wolpe, that Tudor began to realize his true potential. The Wolpes prepared Tudor for his extraordinary career as a path-breaking piano virtuoso and champion of the avant-garde. Tudor's years with the Wolpes culminated in the premiere of Battle Piece in 1950, Tudor's edition of which documents his collaboration with Wolpe in realizing the temporal dimensions of the score. Tudor's later path as a composer of live electronic music is traced back to his years of apprenticeship.

  • David Tudor as Composer/Performer in Cage's Variations II.
    James Pritchett
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    Understanding David Tudor's transition from performer to composer is critical to understanding his life and work. This task is made more complex, however, by the nature of Tudor's work as a performer. Because he specialized in the realization of indeterminate scores and entered into such close collaboration with avantgarde composers, the distinction between performer and composer is often unclear in Tudor's performances. The author discusses Tudor's realization of John Cage's Variations IIas a case study in identifying the overlapping of performer and composer roles, both within this specific realization and within the context of Tudor's history. Because this realization has much more in common with Tudor's own compositions than with Cage's musical ideas, it can be considered more a composition by David Tudor than a composition by John Cage.

  • Open Sources: Words, Circuits and the Notation-Realization Relation in the Music of David Tudor
    Ron Kuivila
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    As a pianist, David Tudor played a pivotal role in the development of the postwar musical avant-garde that has only recently received the scholarly response it warrants. The author traces the development of Tudor's approach to live electronic music from his work as a pianist and assesses the extent to which the indeterminate notations he so often realized entered into the development of his approach to electronic systems.

  • David Tudor's Rainforest: An Evolving Exploration of Resonance
    John Driscoll
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    Of the works of David Tudor, none would seem to be better known than Rainforest IV, his large-scale performed installation of the 1970s. Although it has received widespread and well documented public performance, Rainforest's germination in the mid-1960s in elements of Bandoneon! (1966) and its evolution over a period of 10 years, from versions I (1968), II (1968–1969), III (1972) and IV (1973) through Forest Speech (1976), have not yet been adequately assessed. This paper follows Rainforest's trajectory chronologically: Matt Rogalsky focuses on the early versions of the work, and John Driscoll describes the collaborative development of Rainforest IV.

  • Hearing Spaces: David Tudor's Collaboration on Sea Tails
    Nancy Perloff
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    In 1983, David Tudor collaborated with kite artist Jackie Matisse and filmmaker Molly Davies on a six-monitor video piece called Sea Tails: Davies filmed Matisse's underwater kites, and Tudor recorded sea sounds from which he later mixed a score. Using notes and correspondence found at the Getty Research Institute, as well as interviews conducted with Matisse and Davies, the author reconstructs the collaborative process of making Sea Tails. Points of contact between the media of film, sculpture and sound reveal Tudor's postCagean form of collaboration, in which Tudor ceded control over compositional process and performance to outside forces—Matisse and Davies and the reverberation of the performance and sea spaces.

  • David Tudor in the Late 1980s: Understanding a Secret Voice
    D'Arcy Philip Gray
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    David Tudor's compositions of the late 1980s are somewhat mysterious. His artistic and technical approach was unique and can be seen as a precursor to much of the underground noise and avant-rock music that permeates the alternative club scene today. The author uses Tudor's Web pieces to explore his later work, studying his methodology and the possibility of reconstructing his systems.

  • David Tudor: The Delicate Art of Falling
    Bill Viola
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    The author discusses his early exposure to Tudor's work and its formative influence on his own work and thinking. This connection began with the author's collaboration in the presentation of Tudor's Rainforest, which provided an introduction to the provocative currents at work in Tudor's music and personality.

Special Section: The Art of David Tudor: Symposium Abstracts

After Tudor

  • Philippa Cullen: Dancing the Music
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    This paper discusses one aspect of the work of Philippa Cullen, a dancer, choreogra-pher, community artist and electronic experimenter who worked in Australia and in Europe for a brief period from 1969 to 1975. Covered here is her experimental work with electronic systems that allowed dancers to produce sound and music from their movements. Her primary instrument was the theremin, for which she and her collaborators produced a variety of innovative extensions, from very large aerials, to use with synthesizers. She was an important early exponent of interactivity in the arts, inspiring and teaching many others on her way.

  • A Musical Technography of John Bischoff
    Douglas Kahn
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    John Bischoff has been part of the formation and growth of electronic and computer music in the San Francisco Bay Area for over three decades. In an interview with the author, he describes his early development as a student of experimental music technology, including the impact of hearing and assisting in the work of David Tudor. Bischoff, like Tudor, explored the unpredictable potentials within electronic components, and he brought this curiosity to bear when he began working on one of the first available micro-computers. He was a key individual at the historical turning point when computer music escaped its institutional restric-tions and began becoming widespread.

  • Composer's Notebook: Star Networks at the Singing Point
    Ralph Jones
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    Star Networks at the Singing Point, poetic though it sounds, is merely a description in engineering terminology of the sound-producing method that forms the basis for the piece. A “star network” is a circuit node having three or more connections. The “singing point” is the particular tuning at which the gain in a feedback circuit produces oscillation. In Star Networks at the Singing Point, the performer creates analog circuits composed of multiple nodes, each of which has three or more connections—in essence, “mazes” having a number of paths through which current can flow. Connecting such a circuit in a feedback loop around a gain stage produces an oscillator that is inherently unstable. Tuned to what is called in chaos theory a “tipping point,” the circuit sings unpredictably of its own accord.

  • How Does a Bicycle Light Sound?: Cracked Everyday Electronics
    Norbert Möslang
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    Every electronic appliance contains a unique sonic poten-tial, which the author “cracks” to create music.

  • RISK: The Use of High-Frequency Radio Electronics for Audio Recreation
    Gert Prins, Hervé Nahon
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    The author describes his career as an improvisational electronic musician.

  • crash and bloom: A Self-Defeating Regenerative System
    Douglas Irving Repetto
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    crash and bloom is an elec-tronic sculpture that undergoes population density cycles similar to those found in some natural systems. The system is made up of 42 boxes, their simple behaviors and the interconnec-tion topology of the boxes with one another, which enables them to pass “ping” messages around the network. Three simple rules determine how the boxes respond to the ping messages. These rules, coupled with a feedback loop topology, allow the emergence of crash and bloom cycles: The density of pings in the system rises rapidly, saturates the environ-ment, crashes and rises again.

  • The Folk Music of Chance Electronics: Circuit-Bending the Modern Coconut
    Qubais Reed Ghazala
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    The author describes the philosophy and art of circuit-bending: shorting out conven-tional electronic devices to reveal unexpected sound and music. Starting from his first foray into chance electronics during his junior high school years, he details both his method of working and the wealth of instruments that have resulted.

LMJ14 CD Companion: David Tudor: Live Electronic Music


Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 14

December 2004