The Other (1992)

Duration – 26’50”

Many years ago, I began to use a technique of entering sleep while internally listening in my mind to whatever piece I happened to be composing at the time and to imagine different ways that the piece might evolve into its final version. I did this as a way of trying to keep my mind working on a piece while I slept. I would very often do this while simultaneously listening to recorded classical music on the radio or phonograph. In the state between wakeful consciousness and sleep, when the boundaries between these two different worlds can be ambiguous and strange, my own music and more particularly my compositional process would fuse with the music from the recordings and I would experience the recorded music as if it were my own composition coming into being in my head! I would wake up to find that the great music had not been, after all, my own. But a feeling of having known that music as if Ihad composed it remained with me for a while afterward. I only thought of this past habit of mine after having already decided to use the materials that can be heard in The Other and after having already begun composing the work. This work is not at all meant to be heard as a fulfillment of those “delusions,” nor is the work meant to be heard as dream-like. But remembering those dream compositions brought forward interesting thoughts for me to ponder while trying to justify to myself the nature of the use of the materials for this piece. In particular it helped clarify some other thoughts I’d been having about the difference between “reality” and “hallucination” in general, and, being a composer, especially as it concerns the hearing of music from without as compared to hearing “imaginary” music from within, as we all can do.

The Other, a work of just over 26 minutes in duration, was derived primarily from several excerpts from the second and fourth movements of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, and a short excerpt from his Fourth. The work can be heard, in a sense, as a single variation on the combination of these excerpts which were stretched and compressed in time, twisted, squeezed, transposed, counterpointed, and so on using software I developed in Csound which later became the SNDWARP unit generator. I developed these computer programs on a NeXT computer over several months in 1992, during which I was composer-in-residence at the Music Department of the University of Glasgow as a Leverhulme Trust Fellow.