The Pillars of Hercules • The Great Harbor
2. The Gardens of Cleito
3. The Temple of Poseidon •
The Dance of the Gods
4. The Gathering of the Kings •
The Hunting of the Bulls
5. The Mystery Rites of Purification
6. The Destruction of Atlantis • Epilogue: “...and Atlantis Shall Rise.”
Beginning with Trinity, all of my pieces with the Buchla 200 used the same basic patch (the particular interconnections among and settings of modules). This patch grew out of my interest in both timbral transformations and time-variant timbral structures which I began to explore in a piece named Bestiary (1972-73). Using five sine-sawtooth oscillators or VCOs (Model 258), and two control voltage processors (Model 257), I would take the output of each processor into one set of the two control voltage inputs of each of the oscillators. This created two separate sets of control voltages for the oscillators as a group. The oscillators were so tuned so that at 0 volts, all of them would be at a unison. One set of control voltage inputs was scaled so that when a signal of 15 volts, the maximum, was applied, the result would be a five octave spread. The second set of control voltages was tuned to allow the oscillators to track exactly, over the audible range, in whatever interval had been created by the first set of control voltages. Thus I could simultaneously control the frequency of the five oscillators in both a contrary and parallel fashion which gave me both a great range of frequency combinations to use as partials in a spectrum as well as the ability to change this spectrum in real time. In addition, since the waveforms of the oscillators could be changed in a linear fashion from sine to sawtooth and the amplitude of any modulating signals could be gated (thus allowing for a sliding index), the possibilities were enormous. With the addition of filters, I could, at once, make use of additive, subtractive, amplitude, and frequency modulation processes. I continued to use this patch as the basis for all of my work until I finally moved from the Buchla 200 to computers in 1985. I continued to perfect the use of this patch and, in my final non-improvised analog piece, Moon-Whales and Other Moon Songs (1982-83), I developed a system of using a volt meter to record control voltage signals (DC in the Buchla systems) to two decimal places which allowed me to precisely recreate any patch.
The narrative basis for Lost Atlantis is taken from Plato’s account of Atlantis in the Critias. In this dialogue, Plato had Critias tell Socrates of the fabulous continent named for the god Atlas. The island, which lay just beyond the Pillars of Hercules, was arranged in concentric circles of land alternating with canals of water. On the outermost ring was the harbor of Atlantis, a port of great size and continual activity, so much so that one could hear the “din and clatter” of the port night and day. In the interior of Atlantis there were great and beautiful gardens dedicated to Poseidon and his wife Cleito. The gardens contained every kind of tree and plant and were fed by underground springs. In the center of Atlantis there was a great temple dedicated to Poseidon. The temple was made of gold, silver, and orichalcum, and its magnificence was greater than any other ancient edifice. This was the center for worship by the nobility of Atlantis and, it was said, the gods often met there and danced. It was at the temple of Poseidon that the ten kings of Atlantis would gather every fifth and every sixth year to hunt the sacred bulls which freely roamed the temple grounds. After killing a bull, and letting the blood spill over the sacred altar, the kings offered it up as a sacrifice to their father, Poseidon. It was then that they put on their azure robes and, over the dying embers of the sacrifice, they performed the mystic rites of purification until the coming
of the dawn.
As long as the people of Atlantis led exemplary lives, the gods were pleased and blessed them. But, Plato tells us, the people eventually became materialistic and greedy and abandoned the faith of the past. Then Zeus, the father of all gods, became displeased, and cal- ing the gods together at the center of the world, he spoke of the destruction of Atlantis.
Unfortunately, Plato’s narrative breaks off just as Zeus is to speak to the assembled pantheon. From other sources, we are told that Atlantis was destroyed by earthquakes and floods and, in a single day and night, the continent was decimated and sank into the depths of the sea. Where Atlantis. is now, or even whether or not it existed, remains a mystery. Many, such as the psychic Edgar Cayce, believe that Atlantis will one day rise from the ocean floor.
While Lost Atlantis uses Plato’s account of the Atlantis legend as programmatic background, the music itself is concerned not so much with specific portrayals of places or events but rather with interpretations of impressions. In a more personal sense, Atlantis is the past that never was and the future that can never be. I believe that my reasons for composing Lost Atlantis are best expressed by the words of the poet Robert Lowell: “I want to make something imagined, not recalled.”
Both Trinity (1976) and Lost Atlantis (1977) were composed on The Electric Music Box, otherwise known as the Buchla 200 analog modular synthesizer. Developed in 1970 by Donald Buchla, this system was a great advance over the earlier Buchla 100 series system, and, to my way of thinking, the most advanced analog system of its day. There is always a design tradeoff between flexibility and ease-of-use, and the Buchla 200 offered a large range of possibilities with an also high learning curve. Without a traditional keyboard, Buchla systems were not popular for commercial music, and so they largely resided in academic institutions . Both Trinity and Lost Atlantis were composed studio B303 at the California Institute of the Arts.
In addition to the Buchla 200, I was fortunate to have had four unique modules built for me by Fukushi Kawakami of Yamaha. Dr. Kawakami, one of the world’s foremost experts in architectural acoustics, was in residence at CalArts in the early 1970s studying analog electronic music systems. In order to learn about the workings of analog systems, Fortune (the nickname he was then known by to his friends) offered to build for me anything that I thought might be useful beyond what was already available in the Buchla 200 modules. The result of this project are what have become known as the four Fortune Modules, the most important of which was the Control Voltage Matrix Gate. This ingenious device allowed me to mix and process up to four control voltage sources, and was an important factor in my ability to do real-time timbral transformations.
Listening to Trinity and Lost Atlantis brings back a host of memories from almost thirty years ago. What Gary Chang has been able to do in going back to the original four-channel versions of these pieces and remastering and remixing them into the stereo versions on this CD is nothing short of remarkable. In addition to being a noted composer of film and electro-acoustic music, Gary is one of the best engineers working today. These pieces now live again in a way that they haven’t for some time, and I am extremely grateful to Gary for accomplishing the impossible.
Trinity is composed in rondo-variations form wherein the theme alternates with variations of itself. In addition, the original form of the theme, which serves here as the refrain, is slightly altered in each repetition.
Trinity’s theme is not the traditional set of pitches, nor is it a particular group of elements from any other dimension of music. Rather it is a musical gestalt which may be visually represented as
As realized in the first statement of the theme, this idea becomes a continuous expansion of sound, particularly with respect to pitch, timbre, and dynamics. To consider the theme is also to postulate its permutations. A number these were selected for Trinity resulting in the final overall form of the work which may be represented as:
Since this notion of theme represents such a general but fundamental musical concept, it lends itself to countless possibilities of variation and combination, each of which, in turn, can be represented in many ways by the various dimensions of music. The second variation, for example, is realized initially through changes in timbre and rhythm until, through amplitude modulation created by rapid change of channel assignment, the two dimensions become part of a perceptually larger continuum. At this point, the focus shifts to changes of pitch and timbre as an increasing pitch range creates an expanding additive timbral structure. This is, of course, only one of the many possible ways this variation could have been realized.
Trinity, like most of my other works, is greatly concerned with the establishment of new and interesting electronically generated timbres, as well as with their transformation. Timbral transformations may occur in a linear fashion as in the original theme and at the close of the second variation, or as changes of discrete steps along a timbral continuum, one which may be unique to a particular timbre, as in the first variation. Used in this way, timbre becomes not only thematic, but definitional as well. This is, I believe, a characteristic musical possibility unique to electro-acoustic music. Trinity is the earliest work of mine that fully exhibits my concerns with both time-variant timbres and timbral transformations, concepts that continue to be important in much of my music. There is a particular frequency heard throughout Trinity which, because of the way it is used takes on tonic qualities. This frequency is 313 Hz, one which does not represent any traditional pitch since it is not within the accepted tuning of the tempered scale. 313 was selected for just such a reason, as well as for its obvious relation to the structure of the work.
Barry Schrader has been acclaimed by the Los Angeles Times as ”a composer
born to the electronic medium.” and described by Gramophone as a composer
of ”approachable electronic music with a distinctive individual voice to reward the adventurous.”
His compositions for electronics, dance, film, video,mixed media, live/electro-acoustic music combinations, and
real-time computer performance have been presented throughout the world. Schrader is
the founder and the first president of SEAMUS (Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States),
and is the author of the book Introduction to Electro-Acoustic Music . He has been a member of the
Composition Faculty ofthe California Institute of the Arts School of Music since 1971, and has also taught at
the University of California at Santa Barbara and the California State University at Los Angeles.
His music is recorded on the Opus One, Laurel, CIRM, SEAMUS, Centaur, and Innova labels.
Gary Chang: It has been a privilege to have worked on these wonderful and historic pieces.
Barry's music has always been an influence to my musical perspective.
When I heard Trinity at the Vanguard Theater in the spring of 1976,
it left a lasting impression - a brooding romantic gesture, deep in musical detail,
yet unapolgetically electronic. Barry generously granted me a cassette copy that I wore out....
Many electronic music enthusiasts remark on the relative obscurity of music
written on Buchla systems. I believe that this is due to the simple fact
that many (including myself) who used the Buchla created
four channel discrete tape works. Similar to Atlantis,
I sometimes think that much of this music of Californian counterculture
in the 70s simply vanished when Quad was abandoned...
Produced by: Gary Chang
Engineered and mastered by: Gary Chang
Digital Transfers: John C. Gilbert, Barry Schrader
Digital transfer engineering: Barry Ober, John C. Gilbert
Graphic Design/Art Direction: Vision/Peter Grenader
Barry Schrader & Gary Chang: Sam Hernandez
Buchla 200 w/ lit face: Dorcas3 Photography - dorcas3.com
Barry Schrader with Bucha 200 (1972): B. Hyams
Barry Schrader headshot (1977): Dennis Gilbert
Buchla 200: David Kean
Fortune Modules: Grant Richter.
Innova Director: Philip Blackburn
Innova Director of Artists and Product: Chris Strouth
Innova Assistant: Chris Campbell
Otari MTR-12 courtesy of J. Galen Eby and The Outpost Sound Mixing Company,
Hollywood, CA. Aphex courtesy of Barry Ober.
Innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation
and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
This recording is supported by a grant from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music Recording program,
administered by the American Music Center
Thanks to the late Herschel Gilbert and Laurel Records for the initial
vinyl release of Lost Atlantis , Laurel 139, Max Schubel for the
initial release of Trinity on Opus One LP 93, and to Coco Halverson and
Scott Groller for assemling the Cal Arts archive photography.