Jeffrey Krieger, Electronic cello
The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, published in 1984, describes the evolution of the violoncello from its early sixteenth-century roots as a collection of the lower- range members of the viol family until the late eighteenth- century when “the instrument was essentially complete.” The works on this recital make that dictionary entry already seem historically quaint.
It is possible, even, to view the history of music as an ever- changing approach to instruments. As for our own technologically obsessed century—which has been devoted to expanding our notion of what music is to the point where it can incorporate a global range of sounds and a global range of formal approaches to using those sounds—we’ve never stopped for a second developing new techniques for playing instruments or changing the technology of the instruments themselves. But the most astonishing change has been to electrify music. Today most of the world hears most of its music through loudspeakers.
But while the electrifying of music has been progressing throughout much of the century, so rapid has the latest technology been developing that we are only now just beginning to explore its full potentials. The electronic cello for which the first four works on this disc were written (John Cage’s Ryoanji is an adaptation of music for acoustic instruments) was designed by Tucker Barrett of Vermont and is an instrument unlike any that was possible even at the time the New Grove entry was written. Through interactions with the latest computers, the sonic character of the instrument can be altered during performance in ways limited only by the collaborators’ imaginations.
The electronic cello is still, of course, a cello. It looks like a cello, it is played like a cello, it sounds (when the sound is unprocessed or little processed) like a cello. But it also sounds like a lot of other things as well. And the implications of this are something that we are far from understanding as yet. Indeed, the four technologically astute composers below who have written music for Jeffrey Krieger and his electronic cello seem to readily sense a danger in its destructive potential while at the same time embracing its wondrous sonic potential. That the cello, the most soulful and elegant of all instruments, is no longer pure cannot, for them, be separated from the issues of lost innocence in modern life.
This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available as a burn-on-demand CD (CD-R) or download in MP3/320, FLAC or WAV formats. CD-Rs come in a protective sleeve; no print booklet or jewel case included. Liner notes are accessible via the link above.t(s).
Night Chains – Electronic Cello
A *.pdf of the notes may be accessed here free of charge.
Lead Plates of The Rom Press
Shadows and Light