Earle Brown

Times Five (1963) / Octet 1 (1953) / December (1952) / Novara (1962)

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Elegant kaleidoscopic mobiles for various instrumental combinations and electronics realized from graphic scores. In contrast to his "open form" compositions, the fascinating Octet 1 (for 8 loudspeakers) for magnetic tape, composed in 1953 at the Project for Music for Magnetic Tape, employs random sampling tables employed in statistical research. The choice of sounds again points to the composer's fascination with "inarticulate, uncharacteristic" timbres -- only brief fragments of the Project's city/country and electronic/instrumental sounds were used to create complex densities and sequences, so that the sounds themselves were not recognizable.

Composed in 1963, the timbrely rich and fascinating Times Five is for a group of five instrumentalists who are seated in the center of a square described by four loudspeakers placed evenly about them which broadcast an eceltronic tape made from the processed sounds of an 11-piece acoustic ensemble. There are five sections to the work: the first contains microtonal frequencies around F sharp with speeded-up harp and bass figurations on the tape; the second is "variations of density and harmonic fields throughout the available instrumental range as washes of texture and color"; the third section is made from "noisy sounds" or those kind of not fully articulated "uncharacteristic" sounds which occur on the instrument body, in underblown winds, soft bowings, etc. By contrast, the fourth section is articulate, containing "musical" sounds with notated phrasing; while the fifth and final section is percussively energetic on the tape with material from the third and fourth sections juxtaposed as a "commentary to the tape."