While composing Fallen Sparrow for violin and electro-acoustic music, I
decided that I liked the eam accompaniment to the řrst movement so much that
I made a sand-alone studio piece from it. The concept of First Spring stems
from imagining what the dying sparrow of the larger work’s title might
recall in its last moments of life about experiencing its řrst spring when
life in all of its myriad forms řlls the landscape with sights and sounds
that are new and wondrous to the young bird.
Beyond was composed in 1992 at the Center for Research in Electronic Art
Technology (CREATE), in the Department of Music, University of California
at Santa Barbara, using the Waveframe workstation. The source materials for
the work are the sounds of waterphones and a harpsichord. This is, to date,
my only completely concrŹte work, but it still reŖects my interest in the
creation and development of timbres in a way very similar to the other works
on this CD which use only electronically generated sound material.
Waterphones are wonderful instruments created by Richard Waters in 1968, and
described by him as somewhat of a combination of “…a Tibetan Water Drum, an
African Kalimba (thumb piano) and a 16th century Peg or Nail Violin.” He
further describes them as “…one-of-a-kind, acoustic, tonal-friction
instruments that utilize water in the interior of their resonators to bend
tones and create water echoes.” Each waterphone is custom made and they
range in size from small to very large. The sounds of waterphones have been
described as similar to whales or voices from space. In Beyond, I’ve used a
variety of computer-manipulated waterphone samples to create the material
for the piece. For more information on waterphones and the work of Richard
Waters, go to <http://www.richardawaters.com/waterphone/>.
Duke is the artist-in-residence at Lil Orphan Hammies, a shelter for
potbellied pigs in Solvang, California operated by Susan Parkinson. Duke is
multitalented, and performs on keyboards, violin, guitar, and the xylophone.
He is also an accomplished painter, and enjoys golf and basketball. In his
spare time, he searches for leftover morsels in the other pigs’ food dishes.
Duke’s Tune uses a theme Duke composed on the xylophone. This is, I believe,
the řrst work of music based on a tune invented by a pig. Duke has
graciously given me permission to use his composition as the basis for this
piece. To see Duke’s home and hear his original performance, go to
And there was silence.
And again we asked the question.
And the answer came: You believe that by asking questions you will receive
answers. But often answers are not understood; they merely cause more
questions. And many enigmas have no solutions. But I shall entertain three
řnal questions from you, and if you do not understand my answers I shall
clarify nothing, for I shall not be here.
And we asked: What leads to death?
And the answer came: Life leads to death. For everything that lives must
die. That you can escape death is an illusion. The entrances to death are
many and disparate. That you have control over how you meet death is also an
illusion. For death may come quickly or slowly. But often, as you are
converted to death, for there is no greater transformation than from life to
death, you will recall your life and how it has led you to this řnal moment.
And we asked: What is death?
And the answer came: Death is the absence of life. As the point of living is
to live, so the point of dying is to die. Yet, as life has its stages, so
does death, and the colonies of living things that constitute you subside
each in their own fashion until all have passed. When this is done, you are
complete and at one with the universe.
And we asked: What is after death?
And the answer came: After death is nothing. After death is everything.
After death is the realm where all hopes and fears collide and dissolve. For
in disappearance there is absorption, and in dissipation there is renewal.
But the fate of everything is nothing, and in nothing is everything.
And we asked: What does this mean?
And there was silence.