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 performance, the performer determines the order, influencing the largescale structure by shifting the lines to any of the twelve available positions on the score board. The original version involved the performer moving velcro-backed strips on a large cardboard backing. A new version (2015), with programming by Blair Macmillan and Ryan Maguire, accomplishes the same result with the score on a computer screen. Now, the performer has the choice of moving the lines digitally, or using a randomize button to choose the order. 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