Life Study #5 (1996)

Duration – 12’32”

Life Study #5 (like numbers 3 and 4 before it) explores a genre that can be described as “aural cinema”. Many of the materials heard in this work were derived from “ready-made” recordings although some of what is heard may not be what it seems to be while some is completely synthetic. Life Study #5 is a purely abstract work, but there is a narrative quality that creates an impression that there might be a meta-level of extra-musical meaning. Ambiguity is celebrated in this work. There are juxtapositions of the sounds of a flag in the wind, footsteps walking in place on gravel, a truck engine starting and idling, orchestras tuning, paddle steamers, other boats, monkeys, music from my Life Study #2, Bach’s Art of the Fugue (both musical excerpts are synthetically realized and the Bach score has been tampered with). A succession of scenes leads in a specific direction over time as a collection of tiles in a mosaic form a design or image when seen from enough distance. As the work unfolds, the form and the expressive direction become more evident. A wide array of signal processing techniques were used to synthesize and/or process the sounds for this work mostly using my additions to the Csound synthesis language (sndwarp, pvcross, and a range of filters and waveshapers). Life Study #5 was commissioned by the Groupe de Musique Experimentale de Bourges, France, and was composed in Seattle and Bourges in 1996.