Assembly Line #1

Instrumentation: Oboe
Duration: Variable, at least 8:00
Premiere: 10/5/85
Oboist Patricia Morehead
Boston University Concert Hall, Boston, MA

Program Note:
I had the idea for Assembly Line No. 1, for solo oboe, on a train from Munich to Salzburg in the summer of 1983: what about a piece that could involve the notion of travel, where the performer participates in planning the route? My idea was that each line, itself a complete path, could travel to any other. In addition, each would have a descriptor that reflects some aspect of travel. I created Assembly Line #1 for composer/oboist Patricia Morehead, after spending many happy hours experimenting with her on various oboe techniques. For the original performances, the performer selected the order by shifting the lines to any of the twelve available positions of the velcro-backed strips on the large scoreboard.  A new version (2020), with programming by Pete Yadlowsky, accomplishes the same result, albeit much more elegantly, using a digital screen. The performer can move the twelve lines as desired using drag/drop, or with a randomize button that selects the order anew, with a total of 12! possibilities. Each line should be played at least once, with no break between them except for cadential pauses. The process of performing this piece should project the experience of travel, with its surprises, spontaneity, and shifting moods.–JS

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