Brandon Coleman Resistance
Tigran Hamasyan For Gyumri
Zaki Ibrahim The Secret Life of Planets
The Internet Hive Mind
JACK Quartet Everything That Rises (John Luther Adams)
Kuniko Drumming (Steve Reich)
Kukuruz Quartet Julius Eastman Piano Interpretations
Kendrick Lamar/Various Artists Black Panther: The Album
Kelly Moran Ultraviolet
Georgia Anne Muldrow Overload
Steve Reich/International Contemporary Ensemble/Colin Currie Group Pulse/Quartet
Esperanza Spalding 12 Little Spells
Kali Uchis Isolation
Kamasi Washington Heaven and Earth
Tierra Whack Whack World
Aretha Franklin The Atlantic Singles Collection 1967-1970
in a name (1998) mixes naïveté and rigour; it was one of my earliest pieces where this was an intentional approach, at least. It is based on a musical cipher of the name of the recipient in a gift exchange. A three-note cell of B – E – A is derived from this, generating all the melodic and harmonic content for the piece by forming hexachords with other three-note cells that are parallel with the first: G-sharp – C-sharp – F-sharp; G – C – F and D – G – C, resulting in the keys of E major, A minor and G major respectively. As an example, a two-voice canon on the notes G-sharp – C-sharp – F-sharp – B – E – A is heard near the beginning, immediately after which it becomes the accompaniment to the repeating melodic pattern of the cipher.
The focus is always on one group of six notes or another, voiced predominantly in symmetrical patterns of fourths, fifths and sevenths and seconds, sometimes stacked, sometimes nested. The main three-note cell remains a constant. The overall structure is symmetrical.
This recording features a digital approximation of a just intonation tuning of the piano, while the score specifies the option of performing in this tuning or in equal temperament. The piece was also heard as part of the musical program (which also included my piece for solo kalimba For Findley, also 1998) for an evening-length improv by Dave Wilson’s Dream Dancers, at Dancemakers in October 1999.
Composed and recorded January 1998, Korg 01WFD
Photo: impromptu dinosaur by Kenza Russell, age 4
Music and composer’s notes copyright Bruce A. Russell 2018
Alarm Will Sound with Meet the Composer Splitting Adams (Cantaloupe)
Sarah Cahill with Regina Myers and Samuel Adams Eighty Trips Around the Sun: Music by and for Terry Riley (Irritable Hedgehog)
Ars Nova Copenhagen First Drop (Cantaloupe)
Julius Eastman The Zürich Concert (New World)
ÌFÉ IIII+IIII (Discos Ifá)
Kelly Moran Bloodroot (Telegraph Harp)
Sampha Process (Young Turks)
Tyshawn Sorey Verisimilitude (Pi)
Moses Sumney Aromanticism (Jagjaguwar)
SZA Ctrl (Top Dawg/RCA)
Thundercat Drunk (Brainfeeder)
John Williams Close Encounters of the Third Kind · 40th Anniversary Remastered Edition (La-La Land)
Music by Linda Catlin Smith, Martin Arnold, Isaiah Ceccarelli, Chiyoko Szlavnics, Marc Sabat Canadian Composer Series (Another Timbre)
Various Artists Spiritual Jazz 7: Islam (Jazzman)
“The Longing” (1987) was my dazed, departing glance at the battleground of adolescence. It was created at the beginning of my studies in electroacoustic composition—my first composition class of any kind—at York University, although not as part of my school work. Even by then, tonality was still a no. Then, as now, I didn’t fit neatly into any one musical box. Enter the DIY cassette: Earthtones, completed over several illicit late night sessions with a mix of school equipment and my own. I had the good fortune of being able to stroll from my dorm room indoors to the studio in the same college. An all-nighter that ended just as my floormates were leaving for their classes allowed for a period of undisturbed rest.
There are four musical lines: a percussive synth phrase on a reel-to-reel tape loop; the same tape loop manipulated and processed, eventually disintegrating in a wash of digital reverb; an improvised synth pad recorded backwards, i.e. the first notes heard were the last played and vice versa; and a piano part which was improvised in response to the retrograde harmonies of the synth.
As with other tracks on Earthtones (“The Longing” being the finale), I composed as I recorded, coasting on the nonrenewable fumes of naïveté. Considering I had taught myself piano and started to play in pop bands only three to four years before, this is a very early snapshot of me self-identifying as a composer.
Recorded November 1987
Four-track cassette, mixed to stereo cassette
Photo: December 25, 1987
Music and composer’s notes copyright Bruce A. Russell 2017