Tape Music∞


Instrumentation: Small cardboard box, blunt pencil or similar object, packing tape on a dispenser with teeth, and stereo electronics
Duration: 5:00
Premiere: 11/2/13
Third Practice Festival, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA

Performance Requirements:

Any number of musicians each of whom have a roll of tape (such as packing tape) on a dispenser. with teeth, a small cardboard box (such as a shoe box with cover), and a blunt object (such as a pencil). One conductor is required. In addition, the piece requires stereo playback. Depending on room acoustics, it can be useful to mic the players, but is not generally necessary.

Program Note: 

Tape Music∞ (2013, rev. 2021) is a participatory performance piece for any number of participants plus stereo electronics created from recordings I made of myself ripping, cutting and otherwise playing with tape for my earlier electronic composition Tape Music. There are a series of actions for performers to make, for example snapping, scrunching and tearing the tape . The performers are cued by the conductor who has both a cue sheet for the electronics  and series of instructions to display. Tape Music∞ is part of a series that comprise Quotidian Music, digital and electroacoustic compositions that reimagine materials of daily life, with participatory components that offer musical play and performance experience without requiring special musical training. Tape Music∞  was premiered by 4th and 5th-grade students at the Sabot School in Richmond, with the composer as conductor at the Third Practice Festival at the University of Richmond on 11/2/13. The kind assistance of teachers Marla Wilson, Melanie Nan, and Beyond the Classroom Director Kerry Mills was invaluable.

One of the goals of this piece is to invite both the performers and audience to think about the musical potential of everyday objects and their sonic textures and rhythms. It is also offers a meditation on tape as a collection of materials that are emblematic of our throwaway culture and yet, contrarily, can be used to mend items. Whether used merely to pack other, more permanent objects, or to extend the life of items we care about, such as a favorite book, the found sounds of these humble materials form the substance of this piece. It is also a nod to the genre of ‘tape music,’ from the earlier days of electronic music, when sound was played back on magnetic tape. This name persists, despite changes in media. –JS

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