and Mary Danced on Back of the Terrapin from Ritual no. 1 (Ascension of the Primes)

This is a recording of the third movement of Ritual no. 1: Ascension of the Primes, titled and Mary Danced on back of the Terrapin. Scored for for voice and electronics this movement of the piece is set in a 7-limit just intonation tuning. The electronic sounds were created inside of Max using FM and additive synthesis, in Melodyne by retuning samples from Jesus in the Shade of the Bodhi Tree, and in the Arturia CMI fairlight.

A human vocalist triggers changes in melodic sequences played by the computer by means of a frequency follower. The vocal part is semi-improvisational. In the first section, inspired by the Alap portion of Hindustani ragas, the order of introduction of the pitches of an E-flat mixolydian collection is fixed but the melody and rhythm is entirely improvised. The sequence pattern which dominates the middle dance-like section is hinted at during the introduction. In the dance portion a series of 7 different sequences can be triggered by the vocalist. Again, their order of introduction is fixed but the melodic movement of the vocalist as well as the timing with which they chose to trigger the sequences is improvised. The piece ends in a C phrygian and the material of the singer is entirely improvised save that they must end on the pitch C.

Kevin Swenson – Voice

For a chart which details the ratios, the notes used to trigger changes in the patch and the scales which accompany each sequence see the PDF hosted at this link.

The Body Where I Was Born

This is an interactive piece for trumpet solo or duet and computer (Max/MSP) in 11-limit just intonation. The live performer(s) play improvisatory material governed by a performance algorithm. By means of a frequency follower the live performers can trigger samples stored in the computer which were recorded by Professor Leonard Ott in the Owen Hall Recording Studio. The combination of the sampled and live materials forms a drone-based texture that envelops the listener in a quadraphonic speaker array. In the quad version the samples for the ratios 7/4, 9/8, 11/8, and 15/8, are panned around the audience in slowly phased Lissajous patterns. The Lissajous patterns are generated by two sub-audio sine waves which are tuned to the ratios they are panning. The title and character of the piece were inspired by this stanza from Allen Ginsberg’s 1954 poem “Song:”

yes, yes,

that’s what

I wanted,

I always wanted,

I always wanted

to return

to the body

where I was born.

Thomas Hubel and Kevin Swenson – Trumpets

For the scale with ratios and their order of introduction see the document hosted at this link.

Quadrangularis Reversum

Quadrangularis Reversum is a piece inspired by Harry Partch’s marimba-like instrument of the same name which is a real-time interactive duet between a solo violist and six unique FM synthesis sounds crafted in Max/MSP. The ratios available on Partch’s instrument, situated so that the player can easily play them in sweeping arpeggios, are here rendered as frequencies in the free just-intonation program Scala and stored as a list in a coll object in Max. The chords are first tuned to the C subharmonic series, and then to the F harmonic series. After a meditative introduction, the Viola player chooses to play various notated figures in a semi-random order they wish, triggering different “chords” from the C subharmonic series in Max, each one related to the original arpeggios found on Partch’s instrument. These choices are stored as an independent list and are recalled by Max to trigger the same “chords” retuned to fit into the F harmonic series when the violist exists the stage, and the material which was layered in the beginning returns as if a phantom version of itself. Thus the subtitle What’s Inside the Mirror relates first to the form of the piece, as well as to Partch’s construction of the Quadrangularis which was itself a mirrored version of an older instrument he designed called the Diamond Marimba. It is a mystical piece, which hopes to find the listener reflecting on the present moment, the eternal now – to find a quiet moment with themselves outside of the mad rush of the human world. Quadrangularis was premiered at my senior recital at University of the Pacific on November 28th 2018.

Krista Swenson – Viola Solo
Recorded Live at Faye Spanos Concert Hall
Produced by Kevin Swenson
Engineered by Professor Jeff Crawford