Sonic Circuits 9


Innova 118


Yuanlin Chen (NY) : Primary Voice: Rite, Festa

Rolf Wöhrmann (Germany): We Know

Susan Parenti (IL): No, Honey, I can do it

Jon Christopher Nelson (TX): Scatter

Douglas Geers (NY) : Atomic Tango

John Richey (IL): 11 studies in Noise and Dialectic

Christoph Theiler (Austria): Nearness

Michael Croswell (MN): Solo Silo #1

Richard Lerman (AZ); Manzanar and Tule Lake


Place in your computer for bonus multi-media content and notes:


Katherine Gordon (NY): Endless Transit

Preston Wright (MN): Uptown Sound Map


Yuanlin Chen

Primary Voice: Rite, Festa


Rite and Festa are two movements of Primary Voice, a series of exotic, emotional, nature music for traditional Chinese and electronic instruments.  It is an exploration of combining traditional oriental concepts with modern compositional methods.  The ethnic melodies are full of oriental mystery and deep emotions of mankind.  The electronic sound and occasional vocals enhance the tone color and imprint with primitive rites, tales, and legends.  The music describes unadorned beauty and expresses human’s instinctive desire.  Primary Voice was underwritten by the American Composers Forum with funds provided by the Jerome Foundation.  It is performed by members of Melody of China (


Yuanlin Chen received his masters degree from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and established an impressive career in China.  He came to the U.S. to further his studies in composition, receiving his PhD in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  Mr. Chen’s compositions include orchestral, choral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works, as well as music written for television, movies, and dance.  His music has been performed worldwide at major concerts and venues.  Beauty, joy, love and peace can be found in his work, and these are the feelings the composer would like to share with his audience.

[email protected]


Susan Parenti

No, Honey, I Can Do It.


No, Honey, I Can Do It is part of a series of pieces I call Acoustic Portraits.  Each of these ‘portraits’ uses sound in order to water-color, finger-paint, or sketch a particular linguistic gesture that women use, and that use women.  In No, Honey, I Can Do It, the composition exposes a situation of contradiction, and not of mere conflict — i.e., the situation calls for change of society, not merely a change in society.


Susan Parenti, born in 1950 in Chicago Illinois, studied  composition at

Northwestern University in Evanston, and with Goffredo Petrassi at the

lAcademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. She completed her doctorate in

composition at the University of Illinois in 1986, studying with composer

and writer Herbert Brun. Brun teaches that a composer is a person who

attempts to make something happen which, without that composer and her

intent, would not happen. Inspired by that idea, Susan and other friends

and students of Brun have created the Performers' Workshop Ensemble (an

ensemble of composing performers and performing composers) and House

Theater, where concert becomes itself a medium for composition.  They also

compose in the medium of school, being instrumental(but which instruments,

exactly?!?) in organizing and teaching at the School for Designing a

Society, in its tenth year in Urbana, Illinois.


Susan Parenti's compositions in sound for solo-duo instrumental

combinations, chamber ensembles, and electronic tape have been performed

in the United States and Europe. In the last year, Susan Parenti has

published a book of her plays, The Politics of the Adjective Political,

and a book of writings, I and My Mouth and Their Irresistible Life in

Language. She currently lives in Urbana, Illinois.

[email protected]


Jon Christopher Nelson



Scatter (1999, rev. 2000) was commissioned by the 20th Annual New Music and Art Festival at Bowling Green State University. This multi-channel work for tape is based on recordings of sounds that contain an element of motion.  The composition explores the use of sound spatialization as a primary formal determinant. Scatter attempts to surround the listener with events from every direction that move at varying velocities and trajectories. The work also explores the composer's own multi-channel implementation of granular synthesis that "scatters" sonic grains throughout the multi-channel environment. This recording is the stereo mix of the 8-channel original.


Jon Christopher Nelson's (b. 1960) electro-acoustic music has been performed widely throughout the United States, Europe, and Latin America and has been honored with numerous awards including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright Commission.  His electro-acoustic music has been awarded both a Luigi Russolo and Bourges Prize.  He has composed in residence at Sweden's national Electronic Music Studios during the 1989-90 academic year as well as the fall of 1994.  His works can be heard on the Bourges, Russolo Pratella, CDCM, NEUMA, ICMC, and SEAMUS labels.  Nelson is currently an Associate Professor at the University of North Texas where he is the Assistant Director of the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI) and serves as the Associate Dean of Operations. 

[email protected]


Douglas Geers

Atomic Tango


This brief work was written for the 31st Festival Synthese Bourges Open Work Project, under the theme "Creation of the World." The concept of the work is to represent sonic activity that metaphorically refers to the earliest epoch of life on the Earth, when molecular structures formed which later evolved into the first micro-organisms. What if one could train a microscope on a drop of water from this time and see the evolution happening there in seconds rather than centuries? A host of (comparatively) simple structures would be visible, and these would form, possibly join each other and/or replicate themselves, and eventually collapse back into their original constituent particles. This piece imagines these events as if they were sound: Atomic musical elements appear, reproduce, drift to the surface, and sink. As the work progresses, these atoms begin to join into larger forms. However, as in the history of biological evolution, most of these combinations fail, either dying by slowly withering away or through cataclysmic tragedy. Progress is not linear; and in reality, unlike this piece, there is no end. Composed while in residence at the NoTAM studios, Oslo, Norway, April 2001.


Douglas Geers has composed in a wide range of musical styles including classical concert music, pop songs, television and film scores, and electro-acoustic music. Mr. Geers focuses on composing pieces that utilize new technologies and multimedia dimensions, with a continuing emphasis on interactive electro-acoustic works. His compositions have been performed worldwide, on concerts in North and South America, the U.K., France, Norway, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Korea, China, as well as on TV, radio, and the Internet. Mr. Geers studied music composition at Columbia University in New York City with Tristan Murail, Fred Lerdahl, Brad Garton, and Jonathan Kramer. In addition, during 2000-2001 Mr. Geers worked in residence for ten months at the NoTAM studios in Oslo, Norway via a Fulbright Foundation grant and the kindness of NoTAM’s director, Jøran Rudi.

[email protected]



Rolf Wöhrmann

We Know

An organism of sound. Living. Parts. Acting and reacting. Rhizomatic.


Repeating and insisting layers of sound – like in Ives’ “Unanswered Question” – collide with highly non-linear and rough structures. The sonic landscape is dominated by masses of clicks and distortion - sounds of overflow, energy and tension. Underneath tonal elements are shining through. They insist, but at the end they disappear. The music is waiting for something. We do not know for what.


The composition was realized with real-time sound synthesis tools like “Reaktor”, “Spectral Delay” and “GRM Tools” combined in a compositional environment developed by the author.


Rolf Wöhrmann studied composition in Hamburg. He was a visiting scholar at CCRMA and worked for the research department at IRCAM. His works explore the dichotomy of composition and improvisation. Tape music and interactive computer music as well as chamber music has been performed in several countries.


John Richey

11 Studies in Noise and Dialectic


11 studies in Noise and Dialectic is based on an album of patriotic songs from the People’s Republic of China. More than a simple exploitation of exotic kitsch–though I’ll admit to that cheerfully–the studies are an exercise in relating text to music. Study titles are taken from the album’s song titles. Just as the songs have varying, mostly oblique relationships with reality (socialism is marvelous, but its concretion in the PRC is not), the studies relate to their titles in varying ways, some more simply, some less directly. Political themes arise, among them the seemingly inevitable advancement of democratic ideals along with economic and technological advancement, even as Chinese leaders attempt to move toward the worst of both worlds, authoritarian rule coupled with the economic inequalities of capitalism. The last few studies remember the participants of the Tiananmen Square protests.


John Richey studied theory and composition at The University of Illinois, The University of Michigan, Indiana University, and The College of Wooster. His works have been performed and broadcast throughout the United States and in Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America. He has published essays on the music of Wagner, and contributes reviews to Computer Music Journal. Lately he has been involved with sound synthesis using Csound, algorithmic composition using Visual Basic, and real-time computer music applications using MAX.


The studies are:

1.   Socialism is Marvelous!

2.   Commune Members are All Like Sunflowers

3.   The Revolution, a Fiery Furnace

4.   We Workers Have Strength

5.   Happiness Comes, the Cassias Bloom

6.   The Working Class is Indomitable

7.   Slow Down, My Steed

8.   Follow Lei Feng’s Fine Example

9.   I’ll Sing a Song for the Communist Party

10. I Like These Young People

11. We’ll Make the Sun and Moon Shine Under New Skies


[email protected]



Christoph Theiler



Christoph Theiler (b. Germany, 1959) has lived in Vienna since 1982, working as a composer and pianist.  He has written works for orchestra, chamber music, electronics, radio drama and theater.  Nearness was composed in the year 2000, as was another tape piece, Wideness.

[email protected]



Michael Croswell

Solo Silo #1

Performed and Recorded by Michael Croswell


Solo Silo #1 is the first of a series of recordings made in a 60 foot tall steel silo. This recording captures the unusual acoustics of an empty silo that is located on the southern Minnesota dairy farm where I lived and worked for over half of my life.  As a child I would climb inside this silo and sing/shout in order to listen to the echo of my voice.  Memories of these experiences motivated me to see what this silo would sound like if it were used as a giant reverb chamber for my electronic music.  The Solo Silo series is the result of this exploration.”


Michael Croswell is a composer of electronic, theatrical, and improvisational music.  He has composed for professional theaters in the mid-western region of the U.S.  In addition, he has been composing and performing with his eclectic music ensemble METAPHOR since 1991, and he has produced three full length CD’s with METAPHOR.  His work has been heard at The Walker Art Center, The Cedar Cultural Centre, First Avenue/7th Street Entry, The Southern Theater, The Red Eye Theater, Madison Repertory Theater, and the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival.  In 1991 he was fortunate to receive a Career Opportunity Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, and in 1994 he received a Composers Commissioning Project Grant through what was then the Minnesota Composers Forum.

[email protected]



Richard Lerman

Manzanar and Tule Lake


Locations recordings were made at these two Japanese-American internment camps in California.  Using self-built transducers, sounds were recorded from extant barbed wire, crumbling foundations from the former barracks, plants, and from the boughs of an apple tree which had been planted by the internees.  One also hears windharps which I constructed at the sites.  Edited audio was slightly processed using PC and Mac computers.  This pieces is a section of a longer work, From Dark to Light…but Dark, which used locations at Auschwitz, Trinity Site, New Mexico, and Hiroshima.


Richard Lerman works in audio art, installations, and media.  For years he has designed and built his own transducers.  Using these he often constructs functional microphones from diverse materials, and then uses these to amplify and record sounds of the environment, and to amplify objects in live performance, allowing the sonic flavor of each material to emerge.

[email protected]



Katherine Gordon


Endless Transit is an exploration of motion and emotion, grounded in the idea of life as continuous transition. A nameless subject, as well as the viewer, is subjected to a stream of moving images taken from the New York subway tunnels. The images relentlessly slip by at various speeds and densities without allowing the viewer to completely grasp them or examine them. And so it goes; whether we resist it or relinquish to it, withstand it or are submerged by it, the motion continues without hesitation.


Katherine Gordon makes electronic music, video art, and multimedia installations. Her work takes the form of abstract, textural structures, in addition to more direct, slightly cynical commentaries. She has a degree in Music Composition as well as a degree in Philosophy from Oberlin College and Conservatory, where she studied with John Luther Adams, Pauline Oliveros, and Brenda Hutchinson. Originally from Minneapolis, she now lives and works in New York City.

[email protected]



Preston Wright

Uptown Sound Labyrinth




Preston Wright is a self taught musician/artist/computer hack who works outside the commercial and artistic mainstream.  He is currently working on a soundtrack for Yu 'pik storyteller Jack Dalton of Anchorage.  As part of Sonic Circuits VIII, Wright’s Carpenter Ant Blues (innova 117) was played from Paris to Zagreb, New York to the Kennedy Center.

[email protected]






Special thanks to: Mike Olsen, David Revill, Jolee Mosher, Preston Wright

Produced by Philip Blackburn and Chris Strouth


Sonic Circuits is underwritten by the American Composers Forum with funds provided by the Jerome Foundation.


Sonic Circuits curates electronic works of all kinds from an international call, and presents numerous live and broadcast events each year, cutting across boundaries of electronic culture.


Innova Recordings, the CD label of the American Composers Forum, releases lots of unexpected music: new ideas expressed in puffs of air.  We champion the as-yet unheard.