srijeda, 13. studenoga 2013.

Carl Stone - Before Kanye and after Bach: L.A. pioneer sampler

 Carl Stone, the Los Angeles composer, was a pioneer sampler in the 1970s

Moć mikroskopskog mućkanja u ultraljubičastom pernatom generatoru. Vrhunski zvukovni martiniji od nađenih zvukova - Schubertova fragmenta ili ulične buke Tokija.

Al-Noor 2007

Al-Noor contains Carl Stone's newest explorations into the dismantling and re-composition of global song and melody, and their relationship to other resonant rhythmic and harmonic phonemes. Stone's computer technology brings forth his transformation of beats, measures and sonic landscape into phase-shifted liquid journeys and sonic monuments. From solitude to shred, sounds gradually shift forth creating new scenes of distant mystery. Movement births stillness. Order becoming anarchy becomes paradise. Other-dimensional voices beat within a new world of texture and space. This is that. Here is there. Those become these. This cd of four new compositions represents Stone at one of his most creative periods of his career.

Carl Stone, the Los Angeles composer, was a pioneer sampler in the 1970s, crafting passages from classical music, jazz and rock into musical works that enchant like Alexander Calder sculptures. Although he was sampling before Kanye West was born, Stone said he was hardly the first to blend the beats and melodies of others into his own."I'm definitely not the first," he said with a short laugh. "Bach was a sampler. And when Brahms did his variations on a theme by Handel, he was sampling. When Alban Berg appropriated Bach, he was sampling. And even in the electronic domain, there were people who were using sampling as a technique in the 1950s, composers like James Tenney, who was one of my teachers at CalArts."In the 1970s, Stone added, sampling was manual labor, compared with today, when musicians slide files around on a computer. "In my day," Stone said, "we used the technology of the time: recordings, microphone-collected recordings, appropriated music. We used tape recorders and did tape splices, loops and made mixed collages." Working inside L.A.'s fantastic world of experimental music in the 1980s, Stone said, he heard little of what was playing in the world outside. He said when he finally did poke his head out the window and catch the sounds of Grandmaster Flash on the airwaves, he was impressed and thought, "Wow, I'm not alone in this."And has he heard any pop music that he admires today? "There's a J-pop group called Perfume, where the line between what they actually perform live and what is done through resampling of their vocals, is really interesting," Stone said. "I love the ambiguity between their live vocals and the processed sampling that's used in their mixes and shows up in their live performances." Stone performs Saturday at the Getty Center as part of "Pacific Standard Time." Read the full interview with Carl Stone. -
Read the full interview with Carl Stone.

Live Electronic Music

from the 80's
Dong Il Jang.mp3 (1982) [26 mb]
Shibucho.mp3 (1984) [27 mb]
Sukothai.mp3 (1979) [19 mb]

from the 90's
Violence from Exusiai (1998)
Guelaguetza excerpt (1998)
Boo-Dop from Acid Karaoke (1996)
RM2 from Acid Karaoke (1996)
Guelaguetza excerpt (1998)
Young Jump from Kamiya Bar (1992)
Cooking Papa from Kamiya Bar (1992)
Cue from Kamiya Bar (1992)
Val from Kamiya Bar (1992)

from the 00's

%.Diskfrom pict.soul w//Tetsu Inoue (2000)
bit.A from pict.soul w//Tetsu Inoue(2001)
Acid Bop #2 (2003)
Darul Kabap from Nak Won (Sonore Discs) (excerpt) (2001


CARL STONE, Nak Won (Sonore)

Many years have passed since I first listened to the (still wonderful) "Mom's", a record that helped my already attentive ears to open themselves to a new world of fabulous sounding colours. After several more CDs and a few minutes of the title track beginning here, I detect the same Carl Stone "aura", only masked into a kind of minimalism that is just apparent. Stone's G3 Powerbook is the anima mundi of three pieces: "Nak Won" is 24 minutes of the same very few notes pronounced by the machine just like the same single word told by a million world citizens of various races and languages: at the end, there's a giant cloud made of singular timbres, a swarming sensation still hovering around when everything's over. There you come to fully appreciate the shorter "Kreutz", much softer and lyrical, but always transcending to the very limit of deep listening. The final "Darul Kabap" is genuine powerbook real-time improvisation, crossing voices, samples and electronics, giving backbone to the rhythm of world's heartbeat, mixing lots of strange idioms and ideas right from Carl's head for the joy of our inner ear.
-- Massimo Ricci
Touching Extremes may be found at:

Vital Weekly 367
April 10 2003 by T.J. Norris
CARL STONE, Nak Won (Sonore)

The title track starts off as a 'test' - an aural Rorschach experiment. What turns out to be a quite lovely play of primary tones is collaged and replicated over the course of 24 minute-long MAX/MSP dissertation. At times like Speak & Spell for adults, at times simplified tonalities that percolate the unused portions of your brain stem. Cage would be quite proud of Stone's latter-day approach, breathing new life into minimalist composition, while filtering out even minute traces of excess. On Nak Won he has created a barren horizon line that hosts thousands of sound spheres, hovering and kinetic. This is the work of a clear mind filled with sketches. Stone has applied his work to the worlds of dance, museum and theater. Parts of Nak Won were recorded live at the 2000 San Francisco Electronic Music Festival. This new real-time piece was performed using a G3 Powerbook and rectifies his love for pure digital synthesis and the exploration of atonal dimensionality. "Kreutz" brings things down to a quieter space, with heightened cinematic qualities it deals with space as an elipse, a curve in time. Now living and teaching in Japan, Stone has found special tensions that can be perceived in his sound. Filled with delicacy and enchantment "Kreutz" appears to be an alien visit to a lost world, using tonal chambers as hiding slots in an ambient game of musical chairs. The final of three pieces is "Darul Kabap". Hinting at traditional Japanese strings, this out jazz investigation is sparse and uses sampled wind instruments as fractals. In its lengthy 28 minutes the track introduces and layers a concocted synergy between analogue and digital. The result is quite funny, slightly messy, but all purposefully warped. "Darul Kabap" tests our perceptions of physical and virtual. When Stone introduces mesmerizing eastern influenced vocals and piles on Western dance mixes, all sped and cut-up the listener is jolted by the immediacy of the pure polarity of it all. This is a record for discerning academics and aspiring super users of all things electronic.
T.J. Norris
Backissues may be found at:


August 26 2002
by Richard S. Ginell,
Carl Stone Still Rocking With His Sonic Style

Once a familiar fixture in Southern California new-music circles, electronic music composer Carl Stone now spends most of his time in Japan, with pit stops in San Francisco. He did, however, return to the old neighborhood Saturday night, stopping by the Schindler House to unfurl some of his latest sonic collages. And it is remarkable music too, a technologically liberated descendant of musique concrete, in which Stone builds unusually coherent structures from found and natural sounds on his Mac G3 laptop computer.

The most absorbing piece, "Nak Won," was also the most rigorously organized of the lot, where dueling drones were slowly overcome by what sounded like pop organ fragments and melted into a deliciously amorphous mass. Yet the drones eventually reassert themselves amid the complexity, and the piece winds down in reverse order, almost like a palindrome. It's the work of an assured master of his chosen esoteric idiom.
Following "Kreutz," an ethereal intermezzo, Stone offered two excerpts from "Guelaguetza,"--the first of which featured rapid retro sounds that took us back 50 years to the early days of musique concrete, while the second was the equivalent of pressing the fast- forward button on a CD player.
Though the architecture of "Darul Kabap" was more difficult to grasp, one could approach it like a free-jazz improvisation-- beginning with a jagged bass line, loading up with Indian and Japanese fragments and passionate voices zapped by electronic slaps at high volume.
By then, even the usually impassive Stone was physically jostled about by this frenetic music, and passing aircraft seemed like integral parts of the puzzle.
Credit: Special to the Times
-- Richard S. Ginell, Los Angeles Times, August 26 2002

November 19 1999
by Mark Swed, Times Music Critic
Haunting 'Guelaguetza' Pits Sounds, Images

Born in Los Angeles and a product of CalArts, Carl Stone was once a fixture in the local new music scene. Several years ago he moved to San Francisco, where he has since become a fixture in the Bay Area new music scene. All told, Stone, a pioneering composer with a unique and powerful style of sampling, is now one of the West Coast's better- known composers. But you probably have the best chance of actually hearing him perform or getting your hands on one of his recent CDs if you happen to be in Japan, where Stone has a large following and where he appears and records regularly.

Wednesday night, however, Stone returned to his alma mater to present a recent 70-minute work, "Guelaguetza." Macintosh PowerBook in lap, sound-generating equipment at his side, he enveloped the Roy O. Disney Music Hall in four-channel sound while video imagery was projected on a screen above. It is a curious, haunting piece.
Stone's performances are strangely surreal even without the strangely surreal video he added this time. He sits facing the audience, his attention focused intently on his computer screen. He taps the keyboard or clicks the mouse, and a few seconds later we are surrounded by great surges of very rich sonic layers. On the computer is a program that Stone has composed that controls the basic shape of the piece; the details, however, are manipulated live with the help of a small sampler.
"Guelaguetza," which was first performed in a crematorium in Oakland, begins slowly with what sounds like different kinds of electric organ drones, ever-changing in character. Stone is the master of the transition, and what makes a piece like "Guelaguetza" interesting is that we are constantly aware of the process of evolution, but we never know exactly what it is that is evolving. One minute you think maybe those are layers of guitars, but maybe not. Before you can think any further, they have already become something different. Stone is always one step ahead of the listener.
The video didn't begin right away, and it ended before the music. First we saw a woman standing motionless in gauzy light for several minutes. Eventually the screen came to zombie-ish life with banal clips of what appeared to be commercials from Asian television, mostly romantic pictures of blank young women. The clips repeated over and over, turning romance into a trance.
This kind of imagery is hardly uncommon in visual arts. No one would think twice about seeing a cutout of a corny magazine advertisement cemented onto a canvas as part of an artwork. And one can wander the halls of CalArts and see like-minded video installations. But in classical music this is absolutely startling. Even new music that is not stuffy about embracing popular culture tends to fall back on sophisticated abstraction in the actual realization of its materials.
Eventually "Guelaguetza" becomes disturbing. The music grows sonically more monumental, ever-transforming, and yet over and over those same blank women never change. The video ends with the music still expanding until it is suddenly cut off in the midst of a massive climax. The piece ends with a brief, doodling denouement.
Asia has had a profound influence on Stone's sensibility, but it has not been a predictable one. He picks up cultures and puts them together without explanation. The fit jars and fascinates. Everything is familiar, yet in the end we recognize little in this ever-fluid environment. The night sky above CalArts on Wednesday was star- studded and black, and there was said to be a meteor shower taking place around the time the concert ended. I couldn't find it, but it was easy to imagine. Stone's music makes the world seem a bit vaster.
-- Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times. November 19 1999

MAY 17 2000
by Ron Nachmann, Times Music Critic

WHEN I FIRST heard about plans for the recent first annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, two questions ran through my head. One, what's taken so long? And two, who's gonna watch a festival of people sitting at their machines playing what would strike the average listener as noise?

To the first point, a history check reveals that San Francisco's electronic music scene was forged all the way back in 1961, when composers Morton Subotnick, Ramon Sender, Terry Riley, and Pauline Oliveros pooled their equipment to create the Tape Music Center, which later got moved to Mills College. Almost 40 years later, the idea of celebrating the scene at first seemed to me like scrunching a candle into a Tootsie Roll and offering it up as a birthday cake.
Secondly, it was only when groovers like the Chemical Brothers, the Crystal Method, and at the most austere Kraftwerk revitalized the notion of live knob twiddling that this generation worked up enough patience with watching artists pressing buttons to rev up the dance. Who's gonna be moved when the beat disappears and we go abstract?
Well, my doubts were shot the hell down, and I'm more than glad. Curated by local composer Chris Salter and a collective of some of this city's best-known composers, the first SFEMF proved to be a deftly run grassroots tribute to S.F. electronic music's past and present, bringing out sizable crowds to its three nights at cell space, a funky artist co-op in the Mission. And that Tootsie Roll became a nice, thick slice of devil's food by the first night.
The past, as represented by veteran composers like Kenneth Atchley and Alvin Curran, provided crucial context. Curran's "Endangered Species," a masterful maximalist work for piano and triggered sampler, seemed to vacuum the world of sound into his keyboard. Atchley's "recast" saw him process the tinkling sounds of fountains into cavelike atmospheres, throbbing blankets of low tones, and overwhelming walls of feedback.
Although the festival was largely bereft of artists identified with the city's imploding club and rhythmic electronic music scene, the festival did feature dance music or, actually, music made out of dance. Miya Masaoka played her koto and triggered the manipulation of its sound by gracefully waving her arms across laser sensors; similarly, Donald Sweringen wove orchestral stabs and piano lines together via light sensors as he conducted his phantom ensemble. Later, Pamela Z with her body synth, conjuring her own vocals seemingly out of thin air joined the two onstage to form the trio sensorChip.
Plus, the beat didn't simply disappear. Its influence reared up marvelously in two works by another veteran composer, Carl Stone. He came up aces with two Max software treatments of the hit disco tune "Barbie Girl," by Scandanavian outfit Aqua. In his first improv, "Sripraphal," Stone wrung the tune's opening four-note synth line into a hypnotically pounding noise talisman; on the second, "Flint's," he munched on more of the tune's familiar arrangements. Besides having the honor of playing the only piece in the festival that had a couple of folks dancing in the aisles, Stone's jam spoke for a slightly older generation of electronic composers able to do sonic battle with this year's Funkstung or Squarepusher.
Sure, I found some holes: Dan Joseph's anti-firearm sample fest "Got Guns" lost a bit of its subtlety in its rhetoric, while Steev Hise's ritualistic performance "Familiar/Signifier #2" just missed the mark. But overall Salter and crew have done quite a decent job of narrowing the global focus of similarly minded annual Bay Area events (like the electroacoustic Other Minds Festival) and for once putting the spotlight on a fraction of the future-music talent that daily walks among us.
-- Ron Nachmann, San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 17 2000

June 12 1998
by Alan Rich
Fluctuating Sameness

I furloughed my eardrums from the Saturday concerts; they had paid their dues on Wednesday during the 60-minute duration of Carl Stone's Dong Baek, an electronic work created live by Stone at a small computer activating a large selection of samples. The pleasure in this kind of music is in the association; in a long and genuinely beautiful passage midway in the work Stone seemed to locate both me and his music in the bell tower of a medieval cathedral - Notre Dame, perhaps, hanging out with Quasimodo - with the bells pealing ecstatically, an organist trying out luscious harmonies far below, and a gorgeous vista unfolding, down a river and across some meadows. Then, however, came intense, ear-gnawing pain, horrendous masses of sound piled upon sound, made the more agonizing in the confinement of a small room at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, one of the festival's principal venues). I cannot, of course, claim that my 73-year-old ears are the receptors Carl Stone and his younger colleagues have in mind when laying out their statements on contemporary communicativeness; yet I had heard beauty
-- Alan Rich, L.A. Weekly
September 12 2002

full review available at :

MARCH 5 1997
by Mark Swed, Times Music Critic

The remarkable effect of musicians from China on American new music seems to expand by the minute. We have, for instance, recently been visited by the always unpredictable Tan Dun, and a recording of his weird but wonderful "Ghost Quartet,"performed by the Kronos Quartet and pipa player Wu Man, comes out today on Nonesuch. The effusively romantic Bright Sheng is on his way to town next week. And Monday night the Los Angeles Philharmonic premiered a new work by the elegant composer Chen Yi.
But now for something altogether hipper - the collaboration between the WestCoast sampling composer Carl Stone and vocalist and pipa player Min Xiao-Fen. They call their act Acid Karaoke, and gave a sampling of what they are up to on the Monday night new music series at the Alligator in Santa Monica prior to a European tour. What they are up to turns out to be a delightful bag of tricks.
The most obvious difference between the Stone-Min collaboration and other Chinese new music is the element of sheer fun. Much of the power of current Chinese emigre composition comes from its seriousness. These are mostly musicians who suffered through the Cultural Revolution and came to America to build a new life. They look back at China with both nostalgia and pain.
Stone and Min have dared to turn toward China with a lighter fondness and even humor. The Karaoke business, which is only one part of their highly versatile act, consists of Min singing Chinese pop songs - one she translated as "Flower", another as "Suburban Way" - while Stone, fiddling with Apple computer and CD player, deconstructs lounge backgrounds to give it all a slightly otherworldly tinge. It is as if this were a performance in some Hong Kong cocktail lounge in a future that no one can quite yet predict.
But Min has her serious side as well. She is a mesmerizing performer on the plucked Chinese instrument, the pipa. And she makes its traditional music (traditional but boldly amplified) sound almost as modern as the electric guitar distortion that is the regular diet at clubs like this. Stone also wrote a gripping pipa solo for her that took advantage of the strong resonances of the instrument.
Stone himself is an epic artist who takes things from others and changes them in entirely original ways. Right now he is interested in Miles Davis and he included a set of short works in which looped fragments from Davis recordings are layered so that the music that once progressed in linear fashion becomes pure harmony and coruscating texture. 'Play it, CD man!' someone from an awe-struck and clearly delighted audience shouted.
-- Mark Swed
Los Angeles Times
March 5 1997

JUNE 6-7 1997
by Ed Ward
CARL STONE: An Outsider Inside the Loop


When you think about it, it's rarely whole pieces of music that move us. Usually, it's one or two bit, for which the surrounding composition works as a set-up. We sit there, knowing it's coming, hearing the notes rush inevitably to...that moment. Would we be as engaged if we could just take that bit and somehow get its impact directly?
Good question, and one that plays a significant role in the work of American composer Carl Stone, who will be at the SONAR Festival in Barcelona on June 14th. Armed with a couple of samplers and a Macintosh computer, he's been systematically dismantling small pieces of music and looking at them carefully for almost 10 years. With the addition of a portable CD player he can even manage it live, as I saw him do for 90 minutes recently on his "Acid Karaoke" tour of Europe. And, as his work with karaoke backing tracks indicates, it's not only the beautiful moments that attract him. "Sometimes," he says in an interview that's part of the liner notes to his 1992 album Mom's (Mr. Stone names nearly all his pieces after restaurants), "I'm simply attracted to a kind of wonderful moment in an otherwise dreary piece."
I have no idea where the three-note slide-guitar figure that forms the basis of his 1991 composition Banteay Srey comes from, but this lead track from Mom's is a perfect example of how he works. He loops the sample, occasionally stretching it out, superimposing it on itself, running it backward, constantly playing with it's minimal content, so that we hear everything that's there. Imperceptibly, an electronic organ comes in, underpinning some of the overtones and turning them into a chord progression. The loop drops out as the organ continues, and then it fades back in. A three-second sample becomes a fully realized 14-minute piece, full of wonder and beauty.
"I'm working in the tradition of Rauschenberg and Warhol." he explained the day after his Berlin concert (in Honigmond, a restaurant of course). "I use appropriated materials, but I rework them. My general approach is using the technique of variation, but extending it beyond its normal life. I'm looking at the microbiology of the piece itself, with a change of perspective."
When he was young, Mr. Stone's parents exposed him to the folk music of the world, and he became "a secret Beatles fan" on his own. As a teenager, he had a couple of rock bands in which he played keyboards that were strongly influenced British avant-garde bands that skirted the periphery of jazz and he became fascinated with the way he could change the sounds of his organ. Studying at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia California, he decided to become a composer and started working with computers. "When computers came along, they eventually developed into actual performance instruments...I've made that my focus for the past 10 years." He hasn't scorned the classical heritage, since he's composed for a string quartet, but, he says, "I'm more interested in using familiar music as a starting point. Eighty percent of what I do is sample-based."
The repetitive essence of his compositions has put the 42-year old composer in an interesting position: he draws his audience from the cutting edge of both the classical and rock worlds. Mom's came out on the "new music" New Albion label, while his latest work, 1196 is on the British em:t label, whose catalog is filled with items from the world of ambient pop music, quiet pieces not meant for dancing. He differs from this school of composers, though, in one important way. "I'm not prolific. I only do four or five pieces a year, and only did three in 1996, including 1196 and an hour-long, site-specific piece for a columbarium in Oakland (Calif.), a repository for people's cremated remains designed by Julia Morgan. "My piece was set up in the Chapel of the Chimes, a beautiful place for it."
His most recent endeavor, the Acid Karaoke tour, comes from his association with Min Xiao-Fen, a performer on the pipa, the classical Chinese lute, and, secretly, a karaoke champion. Ms. Min has worked with a number of jazz artists since arriving in the U.S., but when Mr. Stone stumbled on her karaoke award, he says, "suddenly I had this stupid idea" of touring with her and manipulating samples of the karaoke tracks while she sings, also allowing her solo spots to showcase her traditional playing and singing.
The karaoke performances were definitely over the top, with the already over-produced tracks laid atop each other, sometimes vertiginously stretched, slowed-down, or sped-up: stupid, perhaps, as he said, but a lot of fun., especially watching the composer squint at his Powerbook screen, occasionally arch an eyebrow, and execute precision keyboard commands with a good deal of showmanship. As contrast, Mr. Stone also improvised some pieces, using bits from a couple of Miles Davis albums, one of which sounded like a be-bop group trying to play punk rock.
The Berlin Acid Karaoke performance was at a former communist youth club deep in the east of the city, and the tour was promoted by a student fan in Lucerne, Switzerland [web editor's note: the tour was actually promoted by PlanetRock/Christoph Linder of Konstanz, Germany], all of which indicate that, enthusiastic words from the contemporary American master Steve Reich notwithstanding, Mr. Stone's still well outside what might be called the avant-garde establishment. He doesn't teach or have an academic post. "I'm basically a free-lance composer, making a third of my money from touring, a third from grants and a third from commissions."
Still, no serious observer of the current musical scene can deny that the worlds of "serious" composition and the outposts of electronic pop music are drawing closer together, and it's people like Carl Stone who populate the beachhead where they'll meet. From the evidence, there will be some exciting music made there.
-- Ed Ward
1997 Wall Street Journal
June 6-7 1997


Herein lies a reworked version of a dance piece which Stone composed in Japan as part of a collaboration with dancer/choreographer Kuniko Kisanuki and sculptor Satoru Shoji. The first of the four sections opens with what could be sampled whale calls and a high-frequency electronic twittering, to which is added a more conventional two-note synthesizer drone pattern. Typically with Stone, though, things are never quite what they seem, and never quite the same from moment to moment. The first section mutates and eventually gives way to samples of some rather aggressive Japanese Taiko-style drumming, subjected of course to Stone's treatments. This short section evolves into a quiet but rather ominous third, with textures and drones which are somewhat more machine-like, and the use of an insistent three-note clicking pattern as a recurring motif. The fourth and final section however is the real tour-de-force, capturing a peculiar interface between the totally alien and the familiar which is almost Stone's trademark. A sampled and manipulated vocal fragment is developed into a complex loop, which first descends in a minor scale and then slides back to the top to start all over again. The looped, treated (Japanese?) female voice is incredibly mournful, enhanced by the entrance of a flute which improvises around the vocal loop. Still later, a male voice adds what sounds like a wistful Japanese folk melody, again in a minor key. The vocal loop is eventually isolated and then slowly fades. The entire CD is highly imaginative, but the last section operates on another level altogether. I have seldom been so moved by a piece of music, and I would not hesitate to proclaim it a work of genius.
Bill Tilland
Option Magazine
# 70 -Sep-Oct 1996 Issue


This is a very intriguing mood piece in four parts orchestrated by an obscure but well-respected California composer. Stone uses top-notch technology to create a subdued symphony consisting of expensive digital loop technology. In this case, he's using it for a commissioned work involving a Japanese dancer/choreographer and a sculptor.
"Nyala's first section moves from near silence to a soft crescendo of field recordings commingling with wispy strands of extended notes, pseudo-chords and quietly insistent mini-mantras. There's much ebb and flow in all four parts, with the second part laying heavy into the ebb with an odd stereophonic detour into unaccompanied percussion (a light shamanic drop zone in the program). As we shift into the third and fourth parts, carefully crafted sample loops linger far in the distance, coming closer like a thief in the night and subtly evolving (both structurally and tonally), eventually interlocking each chunk with utmost painterly skill.
The sounds themselves are quite distinct and obviously took painstaking hours to sculpt. Carl speaks of difficult digital "zoom- in" techniques to get his sound, using the sampler as an aural microscope to reveal patterns within patterns. You know, microcosm/ macrocosm jive, an audio fractal. Hey, who's writing a thesis? The dude's got flavor. Loop music can get to be a drag with the sheer quantity over quality to muck through. Some have the vibe, more just sit on their can and let their infinite repeat button do all the work. Carl sidesteps boredom not only with a serious toolbox, but with careful planning and deranged dream essence.
Judging from the cover (a vivid picture of a grasshopper on a flower), there's definitely an insectoid subtext running through this CD, like music for genius bugs. Carl's microscopic world sends flashes of an early scene in 'Blue Velvet' where the camera gets under the grass to record the scuffling sights and sounds of a zillion beetles. 'Carl Stone' yields many rewards with patience. (Em:t, Square Center Studios, 389-394 Alfred St. North, Nottingham NG3 1AA, U.K.)
-- Troy Palmer
Alternative Press
November 1996 Issue

SEPT 17 1996
CARL STONE: Kamiya Bar (New Tone)

The king of sampling has made Tokyo dance. He began by recording environmental sounds of the chameleon city he describes so vividly in the liner notes, then sliced them into multicolored sound bits. He next sifted and rhythmicized them into seven well-contrasted movements; ambient "Gild", dance- like "Axis", intimate "Young Jump", busily urban "Cue", meditative "Val" and so on. Never before has Stone brought so many strategies to one piece, running the gamut from letting the noises speak for themselves to drawing their inherent cadences into foot-tapping rock. Perhaps his best work ever. Also check out (if you can) his new 50-minute continuum of drums and plucked sounds on the British em:t label.
-- Kyle Gann
Village Voice
September 17 1996 Issue

AUGUST 12 1996
A Boy and His Mac

American composers come in two flavors: East (cerebral, aggressive, theory-besotted, whether of the Uptown or Downtown subspecies) and West. Carl Stone is West as they get.
Stone was born in LA (still lives there) and studied with electronic-music pioneer Morton Subotnick at California Institute of the Arts (aka Disney U). Long before most musicians, pop or serious, knew the difference between a Kurzweil and a DX-7, Stone was making real music through totally electronic means. When Apple created the Macintosh computer in the early 80s, it was love at first sight for Stone: He not only wrote pieces on the Mac, he performed them on the Mac, live, blending and looping the computer's output back into the mix. Any sound at all is grist for Stone's musical mill: One of his classic numbers, Hop Ken, turns the striding trumpet fanfare from Ravel's orchestration of Pictures at an Exhibition into a dazzling swirl of sound shifting from Gothic-cathedral swing to Celtic clog dance to stereophonic steel-band to Deep Purple haze. But he's just as likely to start with a demo file from a music- software sampler, a karaoke track, the piping drawl of a Japanese department-store elevator-girl.
I agree with the Village Voice music-critic Kyle Gann that Stone is one of the best composers of our era, but until recently I haven't had much luck convincing anybody else. The music's hard to describe, different from anybody else's, different from piece to piece: sometimes verging on Brian Eno-ambient, sometimes drifting toward the imaginary-soundtrack John Zorn end of the spectrum. It doesn't help that most of Stone's recordings have been issued on labels for which the adjective "obscure" is an understatement, and that he insists on naming most of his pieces after favorite LA oriental restaurants.
Fortunately Stone, ever on the electronic cutting edge, now has his own Web site, ( complete with downloadable audio samples of his current work. Check out particularly his gorgeous, atmospheric audio portrait of Tokyo, Kamiya Bar and the extraordinary Nyala, originally composed to accompany a solo performance by a Japanese dancer but fully capable on its audio own of putting you into the most refreshing trance state currently available without a prescription.
-- Roger Downey, Seattle Weekly, August 12 1996 Issue

SEPT 2 1998
by Rita Felciano, Bay Guardian Dance Critic

Butoh Festival Featured International Cast

EXUSIAI ARE angels in charge of the mineral kingdom, according to Dionysius Areopagite, the mythical fourth-century philosopher. Exusiai is also the name that Akira Kasai, the Japanese butoh artist, gave his cosmic wanderings, which received a single performance as the final offering of the 1998 Butoh Festival. Subtitled Global Butoh this year because of its international cast, the festival is the only one of its kind in the country and has a good chance of becoming a fixture in the area's summer calendar.
Exusiai alternated dazzling solo improvisations by Kasai with tightly set choreographies for four local dancers: Takami, Brechin Flournoy, Kristin Lemberg, and Megan Nicely. (Also part of this supporting chorus was Akiko Nishisaka from Japan.) The women's controlled, angular, and often unison gestures framed but couldn't contain Kasai's flamelike explosions as he twirled and skipped through their formations as if they were wispy projections of his mind. At one point he had the women line up according to height like a column of ancient statuary that slowly reconfigured itself as the women worked their way across the stage. As Kasai darted and flitted among them, he looked like the wind blowing across an immense, abandoned plain. Rarely has the extraordinary depth of Yerba Buena's stage been used more effectively.
Kasai roamed huge, timeless spaces that contracted at the twitch of his lip. Sliding on a toe or the rim of a foot, he looked as if he was trying to find his way across the surface of a pockmarked planet or balance on the edge of a towering precipice -- before suddenly collapsing like a puppet whose strings had been cut. At certain moments, against a black background or Jason Jagel's wispy, cartoonlike drawings of babies, he looked like St. Exup
y's little prince, only to morph into a terrified, vacantly staring monster. Carl Stone added another interesting element with his excellent, electronic score.
Kasai is an extraordinary performer able to command the various parts of his body with the skill of a conductor taking an orchestra from the softest whisper to a crashing tutti. Still, at an hour and a half, Exusiai was too long. There were too many places where the piece could easily have ended. And when it did finally end, it seemed inconclusive -- although maybe that was the point.
Other festival offerings underscored just how much of an international art butoh has become. Performers came from Japan, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, and Thailand, most of them appearing for the first time in this country.
The most extreme performance was delivered by Japanese dancer Abe "M" Ria, who flung herself with terrific force onto the stage and for the next 20 minutes flailed and bounced off the floor like a drop of water on a hot griddle. The most beautiful was an ensemble piece performed at a very cold Ocean Beach by Kokoro Dance (from Canada) and some 15 workshop students. The image of the frozen, white-painted bodies in glacially evolving movements, against the gray sand and turbulent ocean, carved itself into the soul.
The most disappointing performance was by Argentinean Gustavo Collini-Sartor, who claims kinship with the masterful dancer Kazuo Ohno (because of the latter's lifelong fascination with flamenco dancer La Argentina). Collini-Sartor's theatricality and mobile face did not make up for an inexpressive body and lackadaisical execution.
The biggest surprise was by Mexican dancer Diego Pinon, whom I saw two years ago at Brady Street. At that time I was underwhelmed, thinking him rather obvious and unoriginal. This time around -- dancing the same piece -- he was focused, precise, and had immaculate timing. It was a totally mesmerizing performance. Go figure.
And certainly the most overlooked element in all the performances was the work of lighting designer Joe Williams, whose skill and sensitivity made it possible to see what butoh can be.

February 2002
by Peter Wullen

Het kwaliteitslabel Cycling 74 uit San Francisco werd in '97 door David Zicarrelli opgericht om interactieve muzieksoftware ter beschikking te stellen aan artiesten die compositie- of plug-in software, voornamelijk Max/MSP, gebruiken voor hun muziek of hun kunst. Alle genres kunnen daarbij aan bod komen: zowel elektroakoestiek als pure elektronica. Nobele onbekenden en min of meer bekende componisten vonden intussen al hun stek op c74. De interessante 001-007 sampler biedt een dwarsdoorsnede van de zeven releases die het label tot nu toe op zijn actief heeft. Freight Elevator Quartet brengt een soort krachtige, orkestrale suite voor laptop geplukt van het album 'Fix It In Post'. Het ons totaal onbekende interface mengt computerelektronica met akoestische instrumenten op het intrigerende 'sedan'. Het langgerekte elektroakoestische 'Picnic Site' van Amnon Wolman daarentegen golft en balanceert constant op de rand van de stilte. Hedendaagse componisten William Kleinsasser en Leslie Stuck bieden ons dan weer een inzage in de toekomst van het label met uittreksels van binnenkort te verschijnen albums. Uitschieters op de compilatie zijn elektronicapioniers Kim Cascone, (een fragment uit het wonderlijke Dust Theories), Carl Stone en Tetsu Inoue.

Een samenwerking tussen Stone en Inoue, die recentelijk de Powerbook omarmden als volwaardig instrument, zat er al jaren aan te komen aangezien beiden bijna in n adem vernoemd worden. Stone is al ruim twintig jaar een voorloper in het elektronische en ambientgebeuren en is hier nog het meest bekend om zijn ecologisch verantwoorde releases op het ter ziele gegane Em:t. De in New York residerende Japanse ambientcomponist Inoue werkte naast tal van soloprojecten de voorbije jaren samen met Pete Namlook, Jonah Sharp en Uwe Schmidt. Beiden leerden elkaar kennen in San Francisco toen Inoue daar een tijd resideerde. Een echte fysieke studiosamenwerking werd het echter niet. pict.soul kwam tot stand door een uitwisseling van muziekbestanden via mail met het overwicht op Inoue's composities. Alleen '(.ram' en '?.digit' werden integraal door Stone gecomponeerd. Het met Japanse haiku's opgesmukte pict.soul is een verzorgde en geslaagde combinatie van Inoue's spookachtige en hoekige soundscapes met Stone's grofkorrelige laptopambient. Maar het is zeker geen makkelijk te beluisteren album geworden. Het laat zich het best genieten door middel van een koptelefoon... En pas na herhaalde beluisteringen raak je echt betoverd door die vreemde klanken en valt het je op hoe detaillistisch en hoe ragfijn deze weerbarstige computermuziek zich voortbeweegt. Als twee giganten van de ambient en de post-ambient samenkomen op een interessant, nieuw label dan verdient dat zeker wat meer aandacht.
-- Peter Wullen
Feb 2002

Vital Weekly 316
March 14 2002 by Frans de Waard

TETSU INOUE & CARL STONE, pict.soul (C74)

Tetsu Inoue and Carl Stone are both known produces of ambient music, each with their own perspective of the matter. The software of Max and MSP offers them the possibility to play together, but it's hard to tell wether they sat together to do this, or wether this music was exchanged as files through the (e)mail. I must admit I heard a little bit more of Inoue's work, than of Stone's work, so to pin down the signatures of both is kinda difficult. I was thinking that that's maybe good thing, because I have a fresh approach to it. To classify their ten pieces as 'ambient Oval' may not entirely justify what they are doing, but it sort of describes the areas where they are. It has those skipping/glitching like features of Oval, but it lacks the poppyness of them first Oval albums, and (luckily) the noisyness of the latter. It's all together a much more abstract thing that harks more of its influences from serious avant-garde then from popmusic. Except in tracks which seem to employ rhythms (or maybe a series of repetitions) like '(.ram', of course. But the length of the pieces are more popmusic like and the ambience held within is not a new thing, but it has warmth. So in all not really a spectular release, but operating in a small niche of its own and not much else like this is done (with of course the odd exceptions here and there), so this is most welcomed release.
-- Frans de Waard
Backissues may be found at: and

Precious Stone

CARL STONE'S MUSIC IS THE FOOD OF, well, music. It feeds on found objects — a Schubert fragment, a Tokyo street noise — and raises them to a higher level. In his hands, and through his serendipitous, madcap brain, the process of recycling becomes true art.
Alone at his iBook laptop, a scarcely larger 8-track mixer at his side, Stone can press a single key and unleash the combined might of a dozen symphony orchestras, a thousand-voice chorus or the scratch of a toothpick across a napkin — whatever his all-questing sampling software has deemed worthy of his processing. A few more keys, and these sampled sound sources collide to form a musical score with beginning, climactic middle and logical end. His music is terrifyingly new, but he's been at it for a long time, probably half of his current 49 years.
At the Schindler House in West Hollywood, designed and lived in by the illustrious architect Rudolf Schindler and now the home of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Stone performed some of his recent music a couple of weeks ago, and produced some of his accustomed enchantment. The crowd that turned up that Saturday night strained the capacity of Schindler's small courtyard. The setting was not ideal, perhaps; a small plane overhead did battle with the opening drone of Stone's Nak Won. Yet the history of the place justified the event. John Cage lived there for a time, and he would certainly have approved Stone's presence there.
At intermission the talk was all about gadgetry: so much sound out of so little. I would have liked more talk about the music itself, which was powerful, astonishing and gorgeous. People still haven't made their peace with the Machine; there's less to watch, perhaps, in the spectacle of one slight, bookish, intent figure hunched over two small pieces of electronic gear than in a stageful of orchestral musicians sawing away at their sharps and flats and associated hieroglyphics. Still, there was the sense that night of music being created, the awareness that that evening's performance would be different from performances of music of the same name on other nights — in the same way that Esa-Pekka Salonen's performance of a Mahler symphony, or Plácido Domingo's of a Verdi aria, won't be the same on any two nights. That's why people go to live musical events in preference to collecting records — or should.
I go back a long way in this matter of sounds electronically produced and turned into artistic designs. In 1961 I was at the famous concert at Columbia University where the first products of the Mark II synthesizer, built by RCA and bankrolled by Columbia and Princeton, were set before an audience. The synthesizer itself took up a fair-sized room in a warehouse near the Hudson River, and employed something like 750 vacuum tubes. It swallowed a composer's visions in the form of stacks of punched cards, and produced its sounds a few seconds at a time. The music — the work of Milton Babbitt, Mario Davidovsky, Vladimir Ussachevsky and others in this first electronic generation — was created on that enormous machine, captured on tape and brought to Columbia's McMillin Theater, where it was played through loudspeakers. In one or two pieces there were also live participants — a violinist, a singer. But the fear, many times expressed by that pioneering audience in response to those pioneering composers, was simply this: Will the music of the future require that an audience sit in an auditorium and stare at a bunch of loudspeakers? (The RCA Mark II, by the way, was vandalized during a break-in in 1976. There was no reason to restore it; it was already obsolete.)
Eventually there would be comforting answers to the question of depersonalization. Morton Subotnick, whom I had known as a freelance clarinetist in San Francisco in the 1950s, made his entry into electronic music with large-scale, "symphonic" pieces — Silver Apples of the Moon, The Wild Bull — created on one of Donald Buchla's synthesizers and recorded on best-selling Nonesuch LPs. A kind of musical cryogenics was at work here; when you owned the disc, you owned the composition itself, with no printed score or live virtuoso in the middle. By the late 1960s, at CalArts, Stanford's CCRMA and France's IRCAM, composers were developing means of creating interaction between music immobile on a reel of tape and technology to include the live musician as participant. At CalArts, Subotnick and his colleagues linked synthesizer, tape and computer software in what they called "ghost" electronics; by whatever name, it served to bridge the gap between the cold, impersonal loudspeakers and the sense that music was actually being created on the stage — as a pianist might create a sonata, an opera company an opera.
CARL STONE WAS ONE OF SUBOTNICK'S first students at CalArts. Later he served as music director at KPFK, in the days when that station stood for something in the matter of experimentation and exploration at the outer edges of thought and creativity. He has always had his hands on knobs and dials, bells and whistles; beyond that, his works have always had the same motivating force that we listen for in great music of any time and style. We listen, after all, for the pleasure wonderful ideas afford our nerve endings, but we listen as well for the pleasure of being able to move with the music's momentum, to sense where it is going and — above all — to sense when that journey has completed its trajectory and brought us home. I heard that in Stone's music at Schindler that night: in the first work, Nak Won, which moved for about 20 minutes along a shapely and logical parabola; in the last work, Darul Kabap, which unfolded like a jazz jam that, again, ended exactly where it should. (For reasons he's entitled to, Stone tends to name his works after favorite Asian restaurants or menu items.)
One of my favorites among Stone's works is Shing Kee, one of "Four Pieces" on the New Albion label; its material is a tiny phrase from a Schubert song, which he has sampled and reconstructed from the quiet throb of the piano at the start to the full blossoming of the phrase some 15 minutes later. What I hear in this music is two composers at work some 175 years apart: Schubert in constructing his eloquent phrase, Stone in delving deeply into the source of its eloquence. And what's most amazing is the way those two guys get along.

An Interview With Carl Stone
By:Gregory Taylor

San Francisco resident Carl Stone has composed electro-acoustic and computer music exclusively since 1972. He has been commissioned to compose and perform his works in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and the Near East. In this 1999 interview with Gregory Taylor, Stone talks about his methods for composing with new technologies and the artistic implications of sampling.

Old Technology

One of the things I think that’s both somewhat invisible and still intriguing about your work is the technology that you use to make it. In part, that might be because the materials you use direct the listener’s attention away from the “how” to the “what”. I expect that you might be one of those people that either get all kinds of questions about gear or no questions at all. Which is it?
It depends where I am. I lectured at the Art Institute of Chicago and I didn’t get one question about gear or software – the questions were all from an aesthetic point of view, which is great. When I’m in Japan I do get a lot of questions about gear. It’s a legitimate question because it’s not obvious, but I frankly appreciate this particular line of discussion we’re having a little more – more on the aesthetic line of attack as opposed to which sampler I prefer.
Presumably your choice of tools had something to do with the kind of idiosyncratic ends you wanted, but I’m wondering about the way that things like hard disk recording changed the way you did your work in your early works.
Sure. Hard disk recording allowed me to do things that I aspired to. Years ago I was working with turntables and delay lines. Then, this Publison DM89 came along. It was my instrument of choice for a number of years. It was a high-end box designed for studios to use. It was very expensive at the time, too – and I had saved up for quite a long time to get one. It was only after it was stolen from me twice -
The same box?
The same box. I had a studio in my house, and my house was burglarized. They cleaned me out, including this box – which was a five or six thousand dollar piece of gear. Of course, it was insured – so I had this check after break-in number two and I asked myself, “Should I get this box for the third time?” It’s 1986, MIDI has arrived, the Macintosh is affordable, and sampling has come into the realm of the consumer. So, basically I thought to try something new. I saw it as a chance to do what I’d been hoping for a long time with my Poubeçon, which was to get some kind of programming ability and some kind of precise control over time – which I’d really never had. So the answer was obvious – it was time to try this.
What’s the first recording that comes out, after you acquire this equipment?
It was a compilation on the Music & Arts label that had two of my pieces on it – Hop Ken and Wal Me Do. Those pieces reappear in different performances on the CD that I brought out myself in 1989 called Four Pieces.
Was the business of trying to use the different technology to reinvent yourself stressful?
No, I didn’t feel stressed at all. I just cancelled all my appointments for half a year – my social life went completely to hell. I just worked more or less continuously for a long period of time ’cause I was really totally fascinated by the technology.

New Technology

So I hear you’re a Max and MSP guy now.
Well, I’ve been a Max user since the product first became commercially available around ’91 or ’92. But before that, I was interested in the use of computer programs for algorithmic composition, one of which – M – David Zicarelli had had a hand in. M was certainly an important program for me because of its interactivity; it was a kind of performance tool and a performance instrument that allowed a certain amount of controlled randomization that you couldn’t get with straight sequencing tools. Sequencers for me are not really appropriate for live performance – I’m not just interested in the straight playback of MIDI material – so M was really a wonderful thing.
And then Max extended the ideas of M, and gave you really a full palette – a complete toolkit for building your own MIDI processors to do whatever you wanted. Because my approach to making music is pretty much outside the mainstream, I couldn’t really be satisfied with most of the tools that were in the commercial marketplace for software at that time. From ’92 to ’96 I was using the standard setup – using a computer with a program like Max to control MIDI sampling instruments.
But when Max/MSP came along, it became obvious that this was the key to the future. These new fast G3 computers eat MIDI for breakfast; you can do everything you had previously done with MIDI and external boxes before internally with a single machine now. From just a convenience standpoint, I’m very grateful not to have to be hauling around lots of racks and pounds of equipment when I perform and tour. From just a convenience standpoint, MSP is a wonderful thing. But the other thing is that MSP allows you to build and customize your own tools to do exactly what you want, or even things that you might not know that you want. The commercial devices, which are created for a mass market and for the generalized tastes of the mass market cannot do that.
To be fair, you can perhaps tinker within limits….
They’re optimized for a general purpose, which is driven by market factors – that’s just the reality. But MSP is different – it’s more flexibility-driven than market-driven. It’s just great for composers like me – we can build and customize the things we use for ourselves. If other people are interested in them, that’s just great. But the tool itself is so non-specific – it doesn’t have a lot of specifics built into it in the way that a sequencer does. There are a lot of things you can do to defeat the assumptions of a sequencer, but you have to consciously do it – with MSP you start with a blank slate always and build out from there. Really the thing that drives it is not the marketing imperatives of a software tool, but rather your own instincts and imaginations – and that’s what’s really great.
So before the arrival of MSP, you were running Max and triggering a rack of samplers and effects processors?
That’s right. My system at that time was pretty stripped down – I was kind of proud of the fact that I was doing everything that I was doing with just a very simple sampler, a Powerbook, an Alesis Quadraverb and a mixer, all being controlled by Max using MIDI. Now I’ve basically thrown out the sampler and the mixer and it’s just done all with a fast computer and MSP.
So it’s all laptop. That’s gotta make touring a lot easier – you just go and plug it in…
I’ve always admired a trumpet player, the guy who gets the call at five o’clock and hears he’s got this gig, and is heading out to the airport at 5:05 with his instrument. I’ve always wanted to do that and now it’s a reality because all I really need to take is my Powerbook and a change of underwear.
So now that you’re an MSP guy, I’m curious about your current situation. How do changing technologies alter what you do? I would be inclined to think not a lot except for the efficiency of working without all those encumbrances….
You’re right, it hasn’t made any fundamental changes. My approach is still the same after all these years in the most general way. The tools are different and the efficiency is increased, you’re right. When I first got MSP, my first tasks were to kind of sit down and figure out a way to model and emulate what I was doing with sampling – external devices and MIDI – how to do that just with a Powerbook. But then it didn’t take much time to realize that, and then I was left everything else that’s possible, which is not necessarily about imitating or modeling preexisting devices, but taking new approaches that were available to me for the first time….

Compositional Techniques

Let me see if I’m getting this right – you learned MSP by taking what you already understood how to do and then doing it using MSP?
Well, yeah. After being in this field for all these years, you develop habits and approaches which are basically the way you think or conceptualize a compositional problem. So, rather than completely rewriting the book, the first thing you do is figure out how can you can do what you know, and do it better. Then – because you don’t want to be doing the whole thing for the rest of your life – at least I don’t – it leads to something else, something really new.
Once you’re done with the implementation, you have a system that runs on your Powerbook that does what you did the last time you did something. When you think about moving past that, is the next step altered by your encounter with the technology?
It surely is. And it has to do with my fundamental approach to composing, which is that I very rarely start out with a fixed idea that I wish to realize, but rather the act of composing for me involves a considerable amount of simple play by using materials and processes which I construct myself. The process of play reveals something about sound and material and the sources that I’m using which, in turn, then, realizes something about form and content and so on. Eventually, this becomes a piece of music. And because MSP suddenly expanded the whole range of processes enormously, you have a whole new sonic world available to you once you break out of the old way of thinking and start a kind of new extended way of thinking.
So, what you’re doing before you create the thing that will become the piece is a kind of interactive listening.
Yeah, that’s exactly what it is – interactive listening which is predicated on some kind of harebrained idea about what might work and what might be interesting, constructed usually from some very simple process which could be used to generate an entire piece or to generate one line in a piece, or one section in a piece, or some subset of an entire piece.
I guess a lot of the other people I’ve been talking to have been talking about perfecting process, rather than creating a process and then kind of listening to the way it interacts with things that you bring to it. So I’m curious about your post-MSP work – I’m curious about where you’ve gone since that happened.
The first big piece I did using MSP was about an hour’s worth of music that I created during a one month period when I was composer-in-residence at the Djerassi artist in residence program. Djerassi is a beautiful compound in the hills in the south of San Francisco, down the Peninsula on the way to Woodside, Silicon Valley-area. It’s a ranch owned by Carl Djerassi, and about twelve artists go there to live in an isolated natural setting, just themselves and a small staff – to really be away from the distractions of everyday life to – in my case – compose. I had a project at hand, a collaboration with a choreographer and dancer from Japan by the name of Akira Kasai. The performance coming up a month after my residency would be over so I just sat about with my copy of MSP, my manual, and a form scheme for a 90 minute dance piece-about an hour of music – and began to jam. The hardest part was pre-selecting the materials that I would bring with me to use as fodder for my sampling, so I just brought an enormous amount of stuff and selected from that. Along the way, I just constantly tried out different techniques based on my imagination. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t. You know, you work really hard for a month and the fax machine is off, and the phone is off and you don’t have email – you get a lot done.
Coming out of that month, what do you wish you knew about MSP before you started?
Hmm… I have no real complaint about that, because I really started from zero.
There are people who encounter the learning curve of a technology and come out the other side and say, “I really wish I’d had a sense of this,” or “I’m accustomed to working in a situation where the languages I work with for programming are hierarchical, and I find Max and MSP complicated to work with because I expect hierarchy and I don’t find it.”
In my case, it’s neither because I don’t crave hierarchy. I like the kind of non-hierarchical blank slate approach that Max and MSP give you. Because I’d been a Max user for a number of years before adopting MSP, I was very comfortable with the interface and the programming style and approach that Max embodies as it’s further implemented in MSP, so I felt reasonably comfortable. There are some obscurities in MSP and – this is not a knock on MSP – I’m not personally very well grounded in math or acoustics, or digital-audio theory. When you start to work with the objects that are really deep like buffer~ and fft~ and ifft~, you do kind of need that stuff. At that point, I had very little grounding in that and there wasn’t really time to go deep in that period because I had to produce a whole hour of music in a month. So, I kind of put those on the shelves and out of reach for that period. I guess I wish I had known more about those things at that time, but it worked out okay.
I think that one of the really helpful things about trying to learn digital signal processing is that you can sit down and fire MSP up and really start screwing around with an audio stream or the contents of a buffer – tweaking it and discovering that what comes out the other end sounds kind of like reverb, or a swarm of bees. While some people are happy with the math or bithead parts of it, I never had the hang of it until I saw what it could do. I came out of the other end of it thinking, “That’s why I need it. Crap ! If I knew this, it would be a lot quicker.” But there’s a lot of wonderful damage to be done to stuff in the process of learning.
Of course, even if you don’t know that, you can still spend a lifetime doing everything else. Last April I was in Italy for a month in a thing that was like Djerassi, that was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation – I was at another artists’ retreat called Bellagio, but the difference for me was that I didn’t have a project at hand or have anything I needed to do, I just used it for research and going deeper inside some of these objects like buffer~ and so on, and that was very useful.

50 iMacs make a lot of noise

So what kind of Max and MSP work are you doing now?
More and more towards these kinds of things that I’m talking about where you get in at the bit and byte level and start peeking and poking around buffers and fooling around that way. I’m interested in resynthesis, and doing more with that – that’s what preoccupies me at the moment.
You said that one of the things you’re working on now is installation work. That’s quite a change in direction, isn’t it?
Sure. Almost all my work has been for performance or working with other media – time-based work that starts, proceeds, and then ends. I was very happy to have had the invitation to participate in a project in Japan where a number of composers were asked to create pieces for a kind of a sculptural instrument called Incubator – 50 iMac computers in a network. The instigator for Incubator was Mr Masayuki Akamatsu, who also made one of the pieces for it. This opportunity got me thinking about networking ideas and using Max and MSP to realize that. It was completely the appropriate tool.
So what did you actually do?
My piece for Incubator was one of the richer ones compared to the other composers in terms of the materials. It used a lot of sound files graphics, Quick Time, dynamic texts…
There were 50 screens to watch at the same time?
Yes, 50 screens – although there was a certain amount of visual repetition throughout the 50. Sonically, you can make a joyful noise – a lot of racket with 50 iMacs. They were set up in a kind of a grid pattern, and people could wander around in between them and observe what’s going on the screens and listen to the sounds. The sounds tended to mass in the room, but if you got in close to any computer you could hear what was going on with that particular one. There were actually six, at any time, six different programs running at the maximum.
Were the machines networked together?
They were networked together and some composers actually passed data in between. One composer had an interesting idea where they used the internal mike and internal speakers of the computers plus objects that could sense the absence or presence of sound so that machines would actually listen to each other and have conversations based on what they heard. In my case, the network was very rudimentary and simple. The programs were designed and installed on the machines. All the programs looked at a master synchronization clock, which was supplied by the network. Depending on the time of the hour, they would react in certain ways.
I’ve never heard of you doing anything like that before. What did you think about it?
It was my first time working with a network like that so I learned a lot along the way. I learned what worked, what didn’t work, what could’ve been better. 50 machines – it’s kind of an orchestra. I think that if I examined the piece that I did for Incubator, it could’ve been more dynamic – I should’ve gone the whole range from one to two to ten to 50, but things tended to be either on or off, very soft or very loud. In fact, I’m doing an upcoming piece in Mexico City that’s a piece for 20 computers. This time, I’ll really play with the dynamics so that each computer is its own voice and you have the full range.
Your using the word orchestra interests me. My first thought was that what you’re describing didn’t seem very much like the way we think of an orchestra as kind of timbral engine. Maybe after the 19th century we don’t do that anymore….
One tendency in my work is the interest in compounded masses of sound through a technique of layering. I’ve done that with my old taped pieces and then through the digital cloning of materials, up to 16,000 layers of the same sound, and when you’ve got 50 computers in the same room, it kind of cries out for that kind of layering.
And you can spatialize is as well. Nice inexpensive spatialization – all you need is 50 computers.
Yes, very inexpensive [sarcastic laugh].


Since you brought up the notion that layering has been a longtime compositional interest of yours, I guess this is a good place to ask about how you started working like this. How’d it happen?
I was interested in and passionate about music since early age, and studied classical piano when I was very young, but never really took it all that far. I wasn’t disciplined enough to really practice, and I had no aspiration to be a pianist. But I continued with my keyboard skills, working in high school bands. I played both bands and keyboard in some groups that included some people you might know, even – like the percussionist Z’ev – who at that time was a Valley boy like myself by the of name Stephan Weiser. We had a blues band for a while, and also more of a western improvisational ensemble called The Sonic Arts Group. The Hogfat Blues Band featured a female vocalist named Wendy Steiner who later became the Nashville songwriter Wendy Waldman. My influences at that time were Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa and The Soft Machine – I really liked what Michael Ratledge was doing with his keyboard work, doing a lot of modification of his sound. It was what got me interested in electronics, and that led to an interest in synthesizers. The early 70s were when that was all coming to the fore – the Moog and the Buchla synthesizers were becoming viable instruments. Cal Arts started in 1970, and I began working as a student there as an electronic music composition major. I was equally divided between working with electronic sounds from the Buchla synthesizer as well as working with microphone-collected sounds and using the tape studios at, at Cal Arts. I parlayed that into a job as a music person – I worked for radio for a number of years as music director at KPFK, the Pacifica Station in Los Angeles. That continued, with me working as a composer in parallel to that, till I left the station staff in 1981.
How did you start working with appropriated and found material? What was the genesis of your interest in appropriation?
There were a couple of things. At Cal Arts, I had a work study job in the music library. My job was to tape all of the records in the music library onto cassette. They did this as a kind of archival project because they figured that the records would wear out and, and I guess they figured cassettes would last forever [laughs]. They set me up in this tiny room with four turntables and four tape recorders and a patch panel. Basically, my job was to just run dubs constantly – I would set up four in a row and play them all together. At first, the challenge was deciding which one I wanted to monitor – I could listen to Machaut or electronic music, or I could listen to some Pygmy music, and so on. Basically, it was up to me. Then I started getting into listening to combinations of them and doing kind of collage and mixing. Maybe that was the genesis of it all, although I wasn’t thinking as a composer – I was thinking as a guy who was working in the music library, but it definitely had some aesthetic impact.
After I finished Cal Arts, I worked in a radio station, where my resources were completely different. At Cal Arts, I had access to what was then a fifty thousand dollar electronic music synthesizer and a lot of tape recorders and mixers and stuff like that. After I left Cal Arts, I had nothing except what the radio station had – which was a couple of turntables, a couple of tape recorders and a big classical music library. So I asked myself – how can I make my piece? What can I do?
And I had what you could politely call an inspiration – you could also call it sort of a stupid idea. I recorded the sound of Igor Kipnis playing Henry Purcell’s Rondo from Adbelazar – the same theme that Benjamin Britten used for his Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – onto the left channel of a tape recorder. Then, I went back and I recorded it on the right channel – the same tape, but displaced a little bit in time. So you had this kind of small delay effect that created a kind of a rhythm. I mixed those two channels, recorded them onto the left channel of my second tape recorder, and then went back and recorded again those two tracks onto the right channel of the second tape recorder – again, displaced in time, but by a different amount from what I had done before. So you had two delays happening, four tracks of material, and a little more complicated rhythm was starting to happen. I rewound all the, both tape recorders, went back to the beginning and then mixed the four tracks that I had now onto one in the mono, and then recorded those four tracks on the left channel of my first tape recorder, and went back and recorded on the right channel of the first tape recorder.
You can see what I had going here -my one had become two had become four had become eight….I just kept it going through 16, 32, 64, all the way up to 1,024 tracks of the same material. And what I noticed first of all was that the character of the sound changed completely. The harpsichord – which in the beginning had this kind of plinky thing happening – became more of a kind of a shimmering effect as I added the layers, but still with a feeling of rhythm, however complicated. As I got up into the higher levels of layers – 256, 512, 1024 – all of the feeling of rhythm basically fell out. All the smaller time details of the sound dropped away completely and you were left with the broader harmonic contour of the piece – the harpsichord sound had evolved into something completely out of this world, both denotatively and figuratively. It was interesting to me that this had happened – in large part because of where the sound had started out in the beginning. So I thought, well, the audience would find this interesting too. Why not just present the work in series where the form and the content and the process are all merged into one thing? Kind of pedantic, when you think about it in retrospect. But it was very much in keeping with the kind of minimalist movement of the time and the work of people like Alvin Lucier was doing in pieces like I am Sitting in a Room. I was very influenced by that when I was a student and so I basically applied that as a kind of formal device.
There are composers who find it difficult to understand the idea of appropriation in anything other than specifically ideological terms. Your story seems to be more about a compositional technique that you happened on serendipitously. Do you find that some of your audience expects you to account for a set of attitudes about appropriation that you may not have, or are there attitudes that you developed about the notion of appropriation and ownership in the process of working?
You’re correct. When I started on this path, I didn’t really come to it from an ideological point of view and I had not developed a specific set of theories behind it. I was aware of movements in the art world that used appropriation – Warhol, Lichtenstein and Rauschenberg. I also knew of Duchamp, who had used found objects and appropriated work in their own. So I knew intuitively that what I was doing was consistent, and I did not have any doubt about the ethics of it. But in musical terms, I really hadn’t thought or searched for any precedent and wasn’t all that much aware of them – although if I’d thought about it I would have realized that in fact the precedents go lots farther back than our current century in music.

The Business of Sampling

But it seems to me that when we think of quotation as a musical device – at least in those historical situations – we have this idea that when a “real” musician borrows something, there are these notions of compositional skill used in that borrowing and the formal devices used to do it. It seems to me as though they’re presented as being somehow qualitatively different than skills that you’re talking about – the skills to imagine the timbres which emerge from displacement, and so on. I’d think that there’s some critical pushback there….
They may be different, but so what? They’re still skills – they may be different, you can’t deny that skills are involved. For me, one issue with sampling is that when you listen to a piece of music whose composers use appropriated musical material as a starting point comes down to a simple question: Does the musical interest of the final piece derive from the material that’s sampled in the beginning or does it come from something that’s done to it? If the answer is the former, I have my doubts about the work. But if it comes from the processing of the music somehow, then I have absolutely no problem with that.
It seems to me part of the question about the idea of working with appropriated material has to do with its visibility and transparency. I suspect that there are a lot of people in the universe who listen to your work the way I do, which is to occasionally play trainspotter – to try to recognize source material. Is the invisibility of source material important to you? Is there a certain sense where the invisibility of the source material is attached to more visibility for you as the composer?
It really runs the gamut. A lot of times in the earlier works it’s very exposed, and very often from the beginning. Early on, I had basically two techniques – I was kind of in a rut. A piece would either start out naked to the world and then would somehow develop into something completely new, or I’d begin with something completely foreign and unknowable which transformed itself into the familiar over the course of time. While both are fine, I like to take a little more complicated approach now where I think things are sometimes a bit more understandable and you can put your finger on them, or nearly so. In a piece like Nyala, the ambiguity is a little higher – if you listen, you hear Jimi Hendrix jamming together with Miles Davis, but you’re never sure if those are really the samples that I’m using or if it’s an illusion I’ve created. There’s an element of alchemy now that I’m interested in, and I like that kind of ambiguity and uncertainty – that queasiness that you have when you’re not exactly a hundred percent sure what’s going on. But even to this – today in the music that I’m doing there are times when it still becomes patently apparent.
But it’s also the question of where we stand with the law and how that’s changed. In the beginning when I had no reasonable expectation that my work would be released commercially, I could go in and use Michael Jackson or use the Temptations, Four Tops, or those kinds of things. I have a piece called Shibucho that’s all based on Motown. Since that work was never intended to see the light of day commercially, I could just let it all hang out. I guess I never thought about this consciously, but now that my work has found some release in the commercial marketplace, I guess that I am subconsciously putting things a little more under the skin, putting a veil of gauze over the sample – so that I won’t be getting a letter from Island Records one of these days.
Do you see the business of live performance as being qualitatively different than the material you produce on compact disc because of the nature of the performance or because of the circumstances under which it’s made? I don’t want to belabor the technology issue, but in a sense different technological resources might be brought to bear on what you do.
It’s a very legitimate question. Nyala could not be performed live. I’ve done concert performances of sections of it, but the piece in total could not be done live. It is therefore by definition a studio work. Other pieces that have found their way onto CD are documents of live performances that I do and other pieces are simply created in the studio. My first released recording which came out on LP, Woo Lae Oak, was a studio work done in a tape studio. It was commissioned for the purpose of radio broadcast. And along the way, it falls into a kind of a fifty-fifty differentiation. My bread and butter is performance now, and so works tend to be created with that in mind. So I’d say it’s used more in the favor of pieces made for live performance, which then eventually I like to bring out on CD in hopes of meeting a larger audience.

A Shift in the Balance

One of the interesting things about Max and MSP for me is a kind of historical irony – that Max saw some of its beginnings in the bowels of an institution dedicated to High Modernism and a certain set of attitudes towards composition. By virtue of a number of hilarious historical incidents and accidents, it has now landed on the desktop of all kinds of people who have no particular investment in that cultural discourse and are busy building their own nonhegemonic memes, just whacking away with it.
I think the work that Miller Puckett did at IRCAM back in those days must’ve been considered somewhat heretical to a certain extent. But even to the extent that it wasn’t I think that the trend toward the democratization and personalization of music was absolutely inevitable. It couldn’t have been stopped by even the most powerful music Czar.
Most of the time I think of interesting cultural exchanges of music as things that make their way from the margins to the center. Max and MSP strike me as kind of peculiar because in a way they have gone in the opposite direction – from the corridors of cultural power to the clubs and art galleries of the world. In turn, there’s this reflected wave thing that happens, too – the technologies have moved out to the edge, and the work that happens on the edge washes back to the center and renews and changes things. I just heard that this year’s Ars Electronica prize didn’t go to an academic composer, it went to Richard James (the Aphex Twin).
Yeah. Institutionally, they made a conscious effort to open up and proactively involve composers from outside of the academy. By getting submissions from outside for the Ars Electronica Digital Music awards and facing the whole breadth of musical material that they didn’t have before, that’s what they get.
How do you feel about that?
Well, not commenting on the specific wisdom of who did or didn’t get the prize, I think it’s a very good thing, I think that prizes like that should really look at the whole breadth of musical activity for what they’re worth. To say that it’s only open to the academy is obviously very self-limiting and silly – I don’t have a problem with that.
I’m curious about the way that you think about the kind of manipulations that you used to perform. There are any number of artists – DJ Shadow comes to mind here – whose recordings have a pretty bewildering mix of interleaved material from turntableland. The overall feel of that there’s something immediate about it. It seems to me that your work comes from a more gestationary process. It’s not precisely in the moment in that sense. You ever felt the urge to return to doing turntable work? Do you see the kind of assembly that you do as being a different kind of process?
I was doing a turntable work back in the early eighties – pieces like Dong Il Jong and Shibucho. Frankly, I was completely unaware of any parallel movements which were happening at the same time in terms of hip-hop and the things that Grandmaster Flash was doing. I was in this fuzzy-headed classical new music world that just wasn’t really paying attention to that. Eventually I found out that this was going on too, and I really liked it. But at that time, I’d pretty much left that world and started working with sampling, working from a computer or a keyboard-controlled point of view. And, of course, there’s been so much innovation and there are so many great technicians out there now that it’s kind of scary to think about delving into that.
Is there any kind of music happening out there on the margins that interests you personally?
I think most of the music that interests me is out on the margins at this point. I’m kind of a weird case because I’m not a big consumer of music; I don’t listen to a lot because I tend to get more absorbed in making it than listening to it. I spent a lot of time in Japan and I’m pretty interested in some of the composers working there.
It seems to me that the material that you use is so carefully chosen that I assume that you must listen to stuff all the time.
You’d be surprised. Maybe because I don’t listen all that much, things really come out and grab me when I do. There’s also the idea of what I use as my musical material and sampling material. I never use electronic music for my sampling.
Is there a technical reason for that?
No technical reason, no. There are several reasons. First of all, electronic music is – almost by definition – already highly processed. Because what I’m interested in is using musical cognates for their significance, they have to be fairly concrete to begin with. Usually, I use things that are somewhat iconographic, classical music or pop music or something like that.
So the things you bring in bring their resonance with them….
They bring their resonance, plus it gives me room to change and the change has significance, and you can ascribe it to what I’m doing. If I were to start with something that was already abstracted, like the electronic music of Robert Normandeau, Michael Redolfi, Otomo Yoshihide, it would be meaningless because it’s already once removed.
You’ve worked with Otomo Yoshihide before. Your collaboration with him was interesting because in some respects, it seemed to me that you met in the center – you were both very interested in this business of selectively mining this set of shared cultural objects, taking that material and doing something with it.
That’s right. But what we did was the opposite of what I told you – we did what I don’t normally do, which is to use each other’s developed materials in furtherance of this kind of sampling project. But the only reason we did it – and the only reason it worked in my mind – is that if you went back to stage one, you would hear the original materials at the beginning.
Are you doing any collaborative work now? I suppose that using MSP now means that you can prototype instruments quickly. That’s bound to make collaboration a little easier….
Yeah, you can prototype instruments quickly and you have these terrific adc~ and dac~ input/output things that you can do, passing material, data, audio data and other kinds of data back and forth between computers. I haven’t done a lot of work with that yet, but it would be interesting to have two composers playing together where they’re networked, they’re actually passing not only audio data in and out, but other kinds of data through some kind of networking scheme. I’d be interested in trying that.
It would be interesting to see if there’s a way to do that that didn’t mystify the process of passing materials back and forth.
Yeah, hopefully it would not become totally oblique.
It seems to me that good process work is a little like the classical music of India, where the performance of a given raag contains the information you need to navigate through the listening experience – from the statement of the raag, to the entrance of a pulse and rhythmic structures, to its virtuousic elaboration. At the end, you’re in a position as a listener to appreciate what you’ve actually heard, because you’ve been led along the way.
Sure. Well, there is something very attractive about that. The metaphor of Indian music is not the first one that came to mind, but I can accept in terms of the elegance and the simplicity and the coherence in musical structure and form. But now I’m also interested in taking that and then maybe at a certain point destroying it altogether. I want to move from coherence into incoherence and then maybe back up from there…
…exposing people to the process by which things have been dismembered? Sounds like fun.
Well, stick around. -

Carl Stone Interview 8/27/09 Los Angeles La Brea Farmers Market by Owen O'Toole

The context for this discussion was the recent Adam Beckett commemorative exhibition at The Academy of Motion Picture Sciences. Beckett's ground-breaking animated films were restored by Mark Toscano of The Academy.
Owen O'Toole: We were both at that screening, myself by virtue of knowing Mark Toscano, who worked at Canyon Cinema at a time when I was on the board of directors there, and I assume you came to that screening as a) having been a composer on one of the films that was restored and b) being part of that whole milieu.
Carl Stone: Adam was a friend and I knew him actually in high school, we went to the same high school together and then knew him at Cal Arts (California Institute of the Arts) as well, and then we worked together, I did that soundtrack for Evolution of the Red Star, and so it was Mark in fact who, well both Mark and Pam (Taylor Turner) contacted me about this, she contacted me for memory about Adam and trying to piece together his life in retrospect. She's a film historian based in Virginia, one of the moderators. So she had contacted me and then also Toscano contacted me about some technical stuff around the restoration of Red Star. And he was very kind, he invited me over to the Academy, showed me the work that they had been doing. They've been doing a lot of great work restoring not only Adam's stuff but a lot of very important experimental filmmakers: Brakhage and others, and working from the original materials which is mind boggling when you think about it.

OO: It's so great that at least motion picture film has tremendous life span. It's not something you can say for magnetic tape is it?

CS: No.

OO: Though I guess Mark was working with mag stock originals from the lab that contained your original soundtracks on them.

CS: I believe so yes, he got a hold somehow.. I guess Adam must have had the foresight to keep those things at his mother's house or maybe they were stored at Cal Arts, that would make more sense.

OO: Or a film lab where prints were... doubtful?

CS: I just don''t think Adam would have done that. I would have thought he kept them at his place in Val Verde, and thank god he didn't.

OO: Is that the place that burned down and he died at?

CS: That place burned to the ground, yeah. So he must have kept them either at Cal Arts or some other location and they were saved and available to be used.

OO: Mark also mentioned that he'd discussed with you the other works you'd done from that period, and you also mentioned that they're in your garage. Could you talk about that material? You're saying that the restorable aspects might be in question on some of this material.

CS: Well again, as you alluded to, audio tape stock in the '70's had some pretty severe manufacturing flaws that require a lot of care and attention to get around these days. There's a whole industry built around restoring old mag tapes which tend to ooze gummy residue.

OO: The adhesive.

CS: Yeah, and the actual magnetic filings will fall off leaving the tape meaningless. So you have to bake them and then you basically have, my understanding is, i've never done it myself...

OO: And then you get one opportunity to play it back.

CS: You've got one chance to play it and load it onto some presumably non-destructive medium like electronic...

OO: Computer.

CS: So my masters are there. They were all done at that time, they were all using 3M tape which is especially notorious.

OO: That's quarter inch stereo recordings?

CS: Generally the way I worked is: the studio I worked in had 2 half inch 4 track tape recorders recorders and then two or three half track tape recorders plus a synthesizer of course. All my pieces were made usually recording through the process of overdubbing onto the 4 tracks and then the final product would usually be a 4 track version accompanied by a mix-down 2-track version, which would be easier to send out for people to listen to or play in a concert.

OO: Just to jump back, how did you come to go to Cal Arts as a musician or sound artist at that point? Was there already a burgeoning program led by somebody, was there a teacher there who was a luminary?

CS: Yeah. well I graduated high school right at the time when Cal Arts was starting up as Cal Arts and so everyone was very excited about this new citadel of the avant garde that was going to be opening up. And I didnt know that much about the history of electronic music or who was doing what, but I had come across..., I mean I knew Cage's work and some of the computer music done by people like Milton Babbitt, Vladimir Ussachevsky, Pierre Henry I'd heard a little of, but I knew that I loved synthesized sound and I was very interested in the idea of sythesis. I had come to be interested in electronics because of my work playing improvisational rock keyboards when I was in high school. I was influenced by the keyboardist for the Soft Machine, a guy named Michael Ratledge. And the things that he was doing, sort of simple in retrospect... He basically hot rodded a console organ and then put it through fuzz, distortion and wah wah and things like that, and so it was kind of a new sound world. And that led me to be interested in synthesis and Cal Arts was opening up, I knew they were going to have one or two big synthesizer studios, and I knew I wanted to go. I was just graduating and had no other plan. And so when I was there I came to know who Morton Subotnik, who ran the program, was, and met a lot of people like Charlemagne Palestine, Ingram Marshall..., they were TA's there. Serge Trepnin was also a TA there and he went on to build and design his own synthesizers.

OO: Modular sythesizers?

CS: Yeah, they were sort of Buchla 2.0. I think he took a lot of the best parts of Buchla 's designs and improved on them.

OO: I think of the keyboardless ribbon when i think of Buchla. Was there anything else that was specifically unique to his intruments?

CS: Yeah, a lot of things. Moog was optimized for people who wanted almost an extended organ, (that was) using a black and white keyboard. It was very much oriented towards diatonic music, twelve tones, and the oscillators themselves were calibrated to provide...

OO: Whole tone increments.

CS: Right, or half tone increments, whatever. Of course you could get in between, but it was different from Buchla which said the world of sound is a blank slate, we're not going to calibrate, we're not going to make any concessions to western music by including a black and white keyboard, we're just going to go back to ground zero.

OO: So Buchla's piece is interesting as a microtonal instrument essentially or potentially.

CS: Well yeah, it made microtonal music as easy to do as.. It made tonal music harder to do and so as a consequence it gave a kind of promotional bias towards microtoal music. And so yes, all the music that those of us who were at Cal Arts in those days tended to.. nobody was doing Bach transcriptions or arrangements or even writing tonal music at all. I mean some music might have tonal implications but you almost had to work hard in order to do that.

OO: And Subotnik brought the Buchla machine to Cal Arts.

CS: Yeah, he's the one who arranged it. He and Buchla had a working arrangement that went back to his days at the San Francisco Tape Center and on through New York, and so he brought Buchla in and purchased... Actually we had 3 studios of Buchla equipment.

OO: Was that a high point in production of Buchlas or was it just good timing in terms of that equipment being (available)?

CS: I think it was an economical shot in the arm to the Buchla business and allowed him... We had the first generation, the so called 100 series and then a year or 2 after that everything was upgraded to the so called 200 series which was a big improvement. And then later on there were other series and Buchla continued his development. Yeah, i think it was kind of a perfect moment actually.

OO: Was Evolution of the Red Star..., was that early on in your time at Cal Arts?

CS: About midway. I believe Evolution of the Red Star was '72 or '73 in my memory.

OO: I think it said '73 on the title card.

CS: That sounds right.

OO: What years were you there?

CS: '70 to '75.

OO: And was Subotnik there that whole time?

CS: Yes

OO: And it was a pretty exciting place to be?

CS: I found it to be, yes.

OO: Who were some of the other music students who you talked with and i assume worked with on things a lot.

CS: The graduate students, like Charlemagne Palestine, Ingram Marshall i mentioned. Students kind of at my age level more or less, undergrads, were...

OO: Barry Shrader was mentioned.

CS: Barry Shrader was a teacher. He had more hands on with the Buchlas and taught the class of fundamentals. He taught an electronic music history class and others. You should interview Barry if you can. Other students: Chas Smith , William Hawley, Earl Howard, Joseph Paul Taylor... I'm just talking about the electronic music studio now. David Mahler...

OO: Are these people that you are still in contact with at all?

CS: Pretty much, some more than others.

OO: Are most of them active?

CS: Well again, some more than others. Joseph Paul Taylor, who was just known as Paul Taylor at the time, seems to have dropped out of music unfortunately, he was a great musician. Earl Howard is very much continuing. William Hawley is not doing electronic music anymore as far as i know but he is still composing. Chas Smith... you're familiar with, he's doing stuff.

OO: Well maybe that's an appropriate point to ask about the world that I know him through, which is the Cold Blue record label, and another person involved with that: Daniel Lentz. Is that a world that intersected with yours much other than knowing Chas Smith at Cal Arts?

CS: Well the roots of Cold Blue go back to Jim Fox, who started the label and pulled the artists on the label together. Many of those artists like Rick Cox and...

OO: Was Peter Garland part of that?

CS: Well, Peter was at Cal Arts. So... Jim Fox was going to the University of Redlands and he was a student of Barney Childs. And so he and Rick Cox and a couple of other people, Barney Childs' students, they were out there. We didn't know them. Barney Childs came to Cal Arts a couple times and did little guest lectures, but i dont think there was that much interaction between the student bodies of the 2 schools. Later, Jim came to LA and brought his coterie with him but then also embraced Chas Smith who was a student at Cal Arts, Peter Garland who was a student at Cal Arts but did not do electronic music. Daniel Lentz was older than everybody else, little bit of a different generation actually, already had a reputation and was based out of Santa Barbara.

OO: Did that become part of the Venice and Santa Monica new music scene, the Cold Blue people? There was a record shop in Venice that I visited in the early 90's and it seemed like it had bins deeply devoted to some of this music and I hadnt seen that elsewhere. There was Rhino Records, and some other record stores that sold new music, but there was this one record shop off of Main St. that I thought must be affiliated with Cold Blue Records.

CS: Certainly did not exist in the 70s at all. Record stores in the 70s, there was Rhino, there was Poobah in Pasadena, there was Aron Records. That was pretty much it. Rhino was kind of your go to place for experimental, improv, electronic stuff. Poobah was also good. That was pretty much it, come to think of it. And Arons.

OO: So Jim Fox, he came to LA well after you were done with Cal Arts...

CS: I think Jim was starting to make his presence felt in the late '70s, maybe very beginning of the '80s, and I graduated in '75.

OO: And where did you take yourself to after finishing school, was there a next step?

CS: Well after finishing school my main activity in the music community here was to co-found an organisation called the Independent Composers Association, ICA, and we started it in about '77. It was a number of ex-Cal Arts students joining together with some UCLA students, a bunch of people who just graduated, who quickly discovered that the only way to get your music performed was to produce the performances yourselves. So a number of us gathered together as a collective and...

OO: Started doing concerts?

CS: Exactly. So, Jim Fox was not a core member of that group, but I think along the way we started some alliances with him. Then in 1978 I started working at a radio station, at KPFK, the Pacifica Station in Los Angeles, and I became the music director there and so my vantage point was as the music director of the local Pacifica station, and I wasn't really working on a daily basis with the ICA anymore, I was more cooperating with them on doing stuff.

OO: When you left Cal Arts did you go back to using the Buchla in those studios occasionally? What did you set yourself up with in terms of home equipment that allowed you to continue being an artist?

CS: Right, It's a very good question because it required a big paradigm change of thinking, because working at Cal Arts, basically I couldn't work there anymore once I graduated. So I had to figure out a way to continue composing. I'd become sort of spoiled. I mean, the synthesizer at Cal Arts was many hundreds of thousands of dollars in its day. Of course today for a thousand dollars you could buy the same amount of power, but that's what it cost in those days, plus all those tape recorders and everything. I really didn't know what to do for a while. But being at the radio station, the radio station had tape recorders and it had LP record players and it had a big music library and so that was... I said: this is what i've got, what can i do? So the first pieces that I consider part of my professional output and which I think are important pieces at least in my own musical history are the pieces that I did in the upstairs production studio, pieces like Sukothai and Woo Lae Oak which came out on LP that you have. Those were done at the studios of KPFK and I used KPFK... again, just a couple of tape recorders and a record player, microphones, because I didnt have... Nobody had a home studio then. You couldnt have a home studio unless you were very, very wealthy, a studio musician, or affiliated with some major institution.

OO: What did they have, some Revox decks?

CS: KPFK had a bunch of Scully quarter inch machines, that's all.

OO: And you did everything that one does with open reel tape recorders: tape delay and loop making...?

CS: Well, i did a lot of loop making, yes. Basically the technique that i worked on that sort of got me started, which is emblemised, if that's a word, with my piece Sukothai, and is also used to a certain extent in Woo Lae Oak, is a multiplicative process I call layering, where basically... the way I did Sukothai was I took a recording out of the music library and I just played it on the turntable and I copied it onto tape in stereo. Then I rewound the tape recorder, I mixed the 2 channels of the stereo tape onto mono and I recorded it on the left channel of the 2nd tape recorder. I rewound again and I recorded it on the right channel. It was a harpsichord recording, so I went from having one harpsichord performance to having 2 slightly delayed in time. Just like a delay effect, right? Simple cannon. And then what I did is I took that recording, I rewound and mixed the 2 harpsichords to mono and I recorded that on the left channel of the other tape recorder and rewound again and recorded the 2 on the right channel. So now I had 4 harpsichords and the rhythmic..., the pattern of delay had become irregular, right? 'Cause it was done in 2 passes.

OO: And in discrete channels these kinds of effects do incredible things, the same information coming... It's one thing if they are both panned equally to the 2 channels, that's one type of delay, but the discrete left and right delay, it's a pretty awesome sound structure.

CS: Well, especially if you keep going. Because that's what i did is I rewound the tape again and I mixed down the 4 tracks of the harpsichord into mono, and then I just continued this process over and over and over and over and over and over again until I had 1,024.

OO: Wow.

CS: It only took 10 times, but it took all night to do that. And basically... then what I did to make the final piece is I just took it serially and assembled the final mixes: 1,2,4,8,16, and all the way through, and that's the piece. So I didnt use all the techniques available to the contemporary musique concrete artists, there are so many of them. I just concentrated on 2 or 3, looping and layering being the main ones. And so I built a bunch of pieces just based on those techniques.

OO: In the time at Cal Arts, did Subotnik bring a lot of other artists through to influence the students who were there? What about Alvin Lucier?

CS: Alvin Lucier, definitely.

OO: New York people...

CS: Well, yes.

OO: Gordon Mumma, is he a west coaster?

CS: Yeah, he's originally from I think Ann Arbor, but taught at Santa Cruz for many years. Gordon Mumma definitely came through. Steve Reich, Philip Glass, they all came through. Lucier probably came through, I dont have a specific memory but we certainly knew his music because in history class that I took we listened to I Am Sitting in a Room. You know that piece?

OO: Yeah.

CS: Well that was very influential, and the piece I just described to you, my piece Sukothai was very influenced by that kind of serial process assembly.

OO: I dont know how much later this is, and I dont know if its the first piece of yours I heard, but it's on one of the Trance Port tape releases, i think it was called LA Mantra... But anyway, the piece Wave Heat, it's a pop song, what is it: Linda Ronstadt?

CS: Heat Wave is... Well, she may have done a cover, but the original was by Martha and the Vandellas.

OO: Right, it was a Motown track. So that's along the same trajectory in terms of your tape work. Was that done at KPFK?

CS: Well, that was done by..., that was like 1982, and the KPFK pieces I described to you were done in '79 and '80. Sukothia was '79, Woo Lae Oak was I think '80 or '81. Then what I was interested in is the idea of real time performance, and I didnt really see tape as being a truly... I mean, I did some performances mixing tapes in real time, but there was a certain lack of spontaneity and a certain lack of control. You're working with these very fixed objects, like tapes. There was no random access in those days, you had to rewind tapes and fast forward tapes to get to the location you wanted, and it seemd to me first of all that LP records... They weren't truly random access, but at least you could pick a needle up and put it down somewhere else. You could go backwards and forwards. So I was kind of a proto DJ, because I started fooling around with turntables and I thought: how about using turntables for live performance? Didn't occur to me to make my own records, that seemed out of the question, nobody was doing it then and making a record would mean... Usually it meant you had to print 500 or a thousand copies in those days. A lot of money.

OO: But you were doing a radio show as well as working at the station, right? so playing music was the most natural thing in the world...

CS: That's right. And just fooling around with turntables was very natural too, and doing mixes and things like that on the air, we did stuff like that. But what happened was I discovered a stereo digital delay with some special features, and again this is 1980, '81. Digital delays now with looping, you can get 'em for 100 bucks, maybe if you want to buy a hand version you might pay 500$, 600 or a thousand if you're really splurging. You had to work hard to pay 5,000$ for a car in those days and that's what this thing cost. But I did some fundraising. My dad helped, I got family friends.

OO: For the station studio?

CS: No, for my self.

OO: Oh, wow. That's incredible.

CS: Raised the money...

OO: What was that thing called?

CS: It was called a Publison DH-89.

OO: Do you still have it?

CS: It got stolen from me twice. Not once but twice. They broke into my house in Hollywood, they stole it, it was insured, I got a new one and they stole it again.

OO: Wow. They knew what they were looking for.

CS: Well, they wiped me out, they took everything. They probably didnt know what it was. Who knows where those things ended up? There weren't that many of them in the market place, in fact there were so few of them in the marketplace... They were sold mostly to rich rock musicians. And once, they had an office in LA, a sales office. The company was French, but they had a sales office in LA and once I went to the office and met with the guy, they were friendly. And above the guy sitting at his desk was a huge sign that said: What do Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Carl Stone, bla bla bla, have in common?

OO: Really? You were up there?

CS: I was up there. Not because they even knew who I was. They knew that I'd bought one and I was like one of twenty people in the world who had one.

OO: That's sweet. Do you have a picture of that somewhere?

CS: I don't have a picture of it, goddam it, but somewhere...

OO: I think you need to photoshop one up. With Publison...

CS: I should. But they also ran ads in some electronic music magazine or studio sound and I do somewhere have a clipping of kind of the same thing.

OO: With it you were able to make similar effects as you were getting with that channel separation..., or was it a new...

CS: Well I sort of moved on from that. I wasn't trying to duplicate that effect so much as I became interested in chopping, looping, repeating, and so Wave Heat was a kind of early version of some of the pieces that you can find on my website now, if you go there, the pieces from the '80s, Shibucho and Dong Il Jang. Go to my website and you'll find them, the pieces that used that Publison.

OO: Is Wave Heat on there?

CS: Wave Heat's not on there

OO: Do you have a decent copy of that? It was put out on cassette in a fairly decent sounding edition that I played on the radio for years. Ha ha.

CS: I have the master somewhere, the stereo master somewhere. My archive version is probably from the cassette.

OO: Well it makes sense, in terms of that change of equipment, because you can hear the combing things that are happening in that piece and it's pretty fascinating. I enjoyed it a lot and I think it's what drew me to your work. It might be that piece alone, there may have been some other... Were there some other releases? Just to focus on that for a second: Trance Port tapes and a produce, he wasn't a Cal Arts person, was he?

CS: No, as far as I know, I don't believe he was. Where did he come from? I'm not even sure. He just contacted me out of the blue.

OO: OK. Because he did an interesting job. He also produced a couple of CDs of his own work that are somewhat interesting, kind of sample space music. And then he invented packaging for cassettes, this was during the time when cassette was the radical exchange medium, and everybody, especially people at radio stations, used them to trade material.

CS: Yeah. I hated them, I hated cassette. I always did. Sounded shitty, was very hard to find an exact location, they broke, they jammed, got caught.

OO: So you tended not to use it..?

CS: You couldnt help it because it was what everyone else was using, and for years if you wanted to send out demos of your work you had to do it on cassette, couldn't avoid it, but I never liked them. And I was so glad when the compact disc came out as a medium, and when the cd burner came out I was really happy 'cuz then I could make my own CDs and get rid of the whole cassette thing forever.

OO: I failed to ask questions about this: Mark Toscano specifically encouraged me to ask you a little bit more about collaborating with filmmakers and soundtrack work in general. First, he mentioned 2 other films that i guess were produced at Cal Arts that he says you did soundtracks for: Amusement Park Composition and Decay, was that by Roberta Friedman and Graham Weinbren?

CS: Yes.

OO: And then Accident by Jules Engel.

CS: Yes.

OO: Did you talk with Mark about those when you met with him recently, or...

CS: Not recently, we didnt talk about it recently.

OO: Is there anything about those 2 film soundtracks that you recall that were especially neat, maybe in relation to Evolution of The Red Star? Do you remember those soundtracks, those films at all?

CS: It has been many years since I've seen or heard those films. It was a revelation listening to Red Star after many years, and it's obviously an early work of mine and in some respects I hear it as such. But on the other hand I dont think it sucks and I see in it the kind of seeds of a number of tendencies that I've followed in later years. and some of the tricks and techniques that I use today have their origins maybe in that soundtrack. I dont know what it would be like..., I would be very curious to listen to Amusement Park, or to see it. I recall, Red Star came together in a way that felt right. I think Adam and I, we may have had some spirited discussion, but we basically understood each others ideas and it all came together in a way that I think we felt good about. As I recall Amusement Park was a bit more of a struggle, it wasnt quite as natural a process, and Accident also came together pretty well I think. But the thing about Accident that disappointed both me and Jules Engel, who was the filmmaker, was that the small details of the sound that I put in the soundtrack did not survive.

OO: Because of the bandwidth of the 16mm...

CS: Because of the bandwidth of the optical soundtrack, yeah. And I being very young and very inexperienced really didnt understand that I was going to lose the detail that I wanted. And Jules was..., I think we did it twice: we mastered it, we got the optical print back and we sat down and we listened to it and we both said: what went wrong? Jules probably paid for it out of his own pocket. We had to go back and we just tried the whole thing again to see if we could get a better version and it didnt work. It was just too much to ask for an optical soundtrack.

OO: So when Adam Beckett's films all listed a mixer...?

CS: Don Worthen. He's the guy who did the Accident soundtrack too.

OO: Was he a professional in town somewhere?

CS: His roots were in Hollywood, he was a professional sound man in Hollywood for many years, good reputation. And Cal Arts hired him to run the film sound department.

OO: So they had a printer head at the school to burn soundtracks onto?

CS: They didn't burn the soundtracks, but he did all the mixing. He did the transfers on to mag stock and the mixing. They had maybe a 3 channel..., you know these big machines, you thread them up, it would be like 35mm mag stock going through all these...

OO: Pretty impressive.

CS: Uh huh, in those days it was phenomenal. And they had a mixing room and so on.

OO: So he was supposed to understand some of the limitations of the medium and he did his best...

CS: He did his best, absolutely, and we just didnt... I didnt have the vocabulary or really even the full understanding of what a microtransient was, to know that that's what we were losing. And that is exactly what it was, just that transient response both in terms of the overall bandwidth and the ability.. You just can't cut that into a 16mm optical track.

OO: I'm still having a little bit of a disjoinder in terms of understanding how Adam Beckett's work suddenly made its way towards the production of Star Wars. I guess George Lucas sort of swooped in and saw a creative universe under the direction of Jules Engel, was it?

CS: Jules Engel was the head of the animation department and yes, I think they sensed that there was...

OO: And It was an affordable work crew and they were interested in sci-fi to some extent. Some of the talk about Beckett was that he was a sci-fi enthusiast.

CS: Yeah... I think if he had been a stamp collector it wouldn't have made any difference.

OO: It was networks of friends?

CS: Yeah, I think that's what it was.

OO: What about your work as soundtrack? I saw the piece you did for dance with Akira Kasai and I assume you've done some other dance related compositions. I think, in the arts world..., just the possibility that dance can exist... It's a whole other world than film which is high finance. Dance is almost an aberration to the money system. The fact that human bodies on a stage can still be presented sensibly is a miracle. And so it's natural that artists would work together through those 2 mediums. Have you had any interesting run ins with filmmakers, where things happen? I dont know of any other soundtrack work that you've done. To me it would seem natural that your work would make its way to film soundtrack. Have there been any intimations in that direction or any courtings between yourself and filmmakers that either did or didn't materialize, that you want to mention?

CS: In commercial film: nothing. I never pursued it. And nobody came to me. I have done soundtracks for experimental film. Most recent was with 2 films by Pat O'Neil. Do you know his work at all? They were presented at the Getty here in LA and in England and also at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

OO: Was that compositions originally made for his films.

CS: Yes. And designed to be performed live or as a fixed soundtrack.

OO: You mentioned some live presentations, were those pretty wonderful? Did you enjoy them?

CS: Depends who you ask. I enjoyed them and we got good results. I mean, the exact same program presented originally in LA and in San Francisco. In LA some people dug it of course and some people walked out. In San Francisco everybody dug it. What can I say?

OO: And so opportunities to present live, performance based music is a primary interest to you or is that something that maybe requires a little more expense in terms of putting it together and maybe funding?

CS: Well it is fun to do and you have the added spontaneity of the moment, plus the added ability to really screw up royally and get all messed up. Which I've... I've done both. Both are interesting, having a fixed soundtrack that's perfectly polished and really great, is fine. Doing stuff live is fine too, I don't have a strong philosophical predilection one way or the other.

OO: So you're open to doing work as it comes to you.

CS: Yeah. I mean it would depend on the artist and our ability to communicate and our common aesthetic ground. I feel aesthetically, I really like Pat's work and always felt... I've always loved it. You know he was at Cal Arts as a teacher, he was Adam Beckett's teacher. And I loved his work then. I didn't particularly like his soundtracks at the time. I always thought: Oh god i hope someday I'll have a chance to do a soundtrack for Pat O'Neil. And it took 35 years but eventually I had the chance.

OO: That's kind of what it's all about: to work with the people who you've admired and learned so much from, to be able to give back into their work and become part of those lives. Pretty nice reward even though... it's not the most lucrative career in the world.

CS: Yeah, that's a very polite way to put it.

OO: So, you have a teaching gig in Japan, which is probably wonderful in some ways. From my point of view you've done a great job of getting your work out there and being involved in growing communities of sound art, at least here on the west coast, Los Angeles, San Francisco. I don't exactly know what your relationship is with east coast people, i'm sure you have contacts, friends there who contact you. But making a living is difficult as a sound artist or composer of electronic music, isnt it?

CS: Well, it's so difficult that I gave up trying. I mean, I basically for years... of course i was never 100%. I mean, I worked for a radio station, I ran the California office of Meet the Composer which is a funding organization, I did freelance consulting. and stuff. But I for many years was sort of proud of the fact that I never taught at a university, I didn't do any Hollywood soundtracks, I was kind of scraping by on my own music ... as music. But it was getting harder and harder and it got to the point where it became almost impossible really. And fortunately I did get an opportunity, I was offered a job to teach at a university in Japan. Which you know... if teaching at a university can be a drag at least teaching at a university in Japan would be a challenge.

OO: Language wise?

CS: Language, culture, business culture, everything. So I decided to go for it. It also coincided with the takeover of the Bush Administration, 9-11, the rise of...

OO: The right.

CS: The rise of the right. And the fall of the media in this country, so it seemed a good time to put a little distance between me and the US.

OO: How is the technology for music for you these days. Do you see the tools for the composer to be immense and fruitful? Is it absolutely a good time for say: a young person wanting to explore... making music? Is there great equipment, and, I mean, software winds up being a big part of composing electronic music doesn't it?

CS: Yes.

OO: I realize MAX has been a huge part of, and other MIDI driver type... That's actually more of a virtual synthesis program, but are there any other tools that you've run across over the past 10 years. I don't think i've talked to you since... didn't you do a piece in Japan with like 100 iMacs playing ..

CS: Well, 50 but who's counting? For a long time the music software that I was using was only available for a Mac platform. Now it doesn't matter, any platform. The tools that I use are available for any platform, like MAX.

OO: If someone threw a laptop of any type at you and an internet connection, could you get going relatively quickly?

CS: Yeah. of course. I've stuck with the same platform for a long time, MAX/MSP as you said. I haven't really felt the need to move beyond that because I'm able to do everything that I want to do with that, and it runs on a Mac, it runs on windows, and it runs on Linux, so...

OO: Has cycling (cycling 74) been a responsive company to your needs? Have you needed to contact them about things over the years.

CS: A few things. I beta-tested one of the early versions of MAX. And from time to time will send them a suggestion or a complaint. Their user base is very large and a lot of cool ideas come from them. I've found that their improvements have pretty much tracked my needs even without me having to say a lot to them.

OO: I know that there's a lot more that we could talk about of the past 20 years. Maybe next winter we could do another one.

CS: I like this. Sure. -

Carl Stone Interview, Part 2. Los Angeles, CA March 24, 2010

OO: When did you finish your stint at KPFK?

CS: Well, I was music director there until 1981, but I continued to do programming there for years after. I had a program there even after I moved to San Francisco, I was doing it on tape until maybe 95 or 96. So, from 76 until 78 I was a programmer, from 78 to 81 I was the music director, from late 81-82 until maybe 95 or 96 I was a programmer again.

OO: And then, did you depart? You said you continued doing your program for quite a few years.

CS: When I moved to San Francisco I continued doing it on tape.

OO: What was the name of the show?

CS: Imaginary Landscape was the program that I did. I did several different programs but Imaginary Landscape was the one I did for the longest. And then when I moved to the Bay Area I started doing programming on KPFA.

OO: I remember hearing you because I was living in the Bay Area at that point. Didn't you take over somebody's late morning Music of the World, you started doing avant-garde etc. and world music, whatever interested you…?

CS: I did.

OO: It can be hard to play avant-garde or experimental music in the morning, can't it?

CS: It's tricky, yeah. There's certain kinds of music that works better than others. When I did the Sunrise Concert on KPFK, that was from 6 in the morning until 9. Certainly, great bombastic music like Xenakis or noise music you wouldn't want to do at that hour. But you could find a mix of early music that would work well with some new music, be it a little John Cage, a little Lou Harrison, some Gavin Bryars, there was actually a lot of stuff you could do at that hour, with care.

OO: You bring up Cage and others, and I realize, we had talked about getting together again to discuss certain things we hadn't in relation to your time at Cal Arts. Specifically, James Tenney, I don't think we got into him at all when I first asked you questions and you said you had some interesting interactions with him or that he was significant in some way.

CS: Yeah, he taught a seminar which I was a member of and that was a great experience. He introduced his thesis called METAHODOS, a theory of formal organization, and he published a book or a treatise: METAHODOS and then META-METAHODOS. So he talked about his theories. And in the group: myself, Earl Howard, Curtis Roads, Joseph Paul Taylor and some others.

OO: I can imagine that as inspired as he was, it had to rub off. I mean, his time at the Bell Labs is one of those lightning bolt history moments where somebody has got their hands on all the real stuff, it's not a fluke of timing but a brilliant experience I'm sure. Did he talk about that?

CS: Yeah, he talked about his work at Bell Labs. He had two kind of signature pieces that were made at Bell, well maybe his signature piece from Bell Labs was a piece called "for ann (rising)", which is based on an acoustic phenomenon called the Shepard tone, where a tone rises in continuous glissando and then through a trick of perception it appears to be rising infinitely. As it starts to get to the upper end of the acoustic stratosphere, a subharmonic which had before that been imperceptible becomes perceptible. And so the effect is one of infinity. He built a whole composition based on this phenomenon. So we talked about that and how he did it, and also anecdotes about working at Bell Labs. What I didn't really know was that he also had done a number of pieces that used appropriated music, including sampling Elvis. He had a piece called Blue Suede, which I knew, but another piece that used Vietnamese music. So he's a kind of proto-sampler, a proto-mixer. These pieces were done in the maybe 50's or early 60's and I think less consciously, more unconsciously or subconsciously it had an influence on my own approach, because that's one of the things I do, almost always. is used found or appropriated musical material as a starting point.

OO: Take a phrase from it say, and make variations on that that go on as exponentially as you can…

CS: Right.

OO: So Tenney would come into a room and audition pieces of his for you and then go on about them, is that what it was like at all?

CS: I'm trying to remember exactly his technique. It wasn't always revolving around a piece of music of his, we might analyze another piece of music or just talk about general principles about acoustics in music and about instrumental music versus electronics, and about organization of sound. His key thing was formal organization and how we perceive structure in music. It wasn't always done in the crucible of his own work but sometimes it was.

OO: How did he jibe with the Buchla legacy that was going on there? You had these recording studios that were outfitted with Buchla (equipment), was he more of a tape and oscillator person?

CS: He wasn't really doing any electronic music there at that time.

OO: Really, he was theoretizing?

CS: Well, he was writing a lot of instrumental music at that time. He wrote a series of solo pieces that were very important, that he introduced at Cal Arts, including a piece that I just heard performed a couple of weeks ago up in the Bay Area, it's called Never Having Written A Note For Percusssion and it's one note written for tam-tam, giant tam-tam, and a very, very long crescendo to maximum quadruple forte and then a very slow diminuendo. William Winant performed it at the Berkeley Art Museum a couple of weeks ago and it was written originally for John Bergamo, the percussion teacher at Cal Arts. And a solo bass piece and some other solo pieces that I'm blanking on at the moment.

OO: So this was in the early to mid-70s, when he was expanding more into the field of fully composing?

CS: I think electronic music was an important formative stage for him but not something that he really continued much after he left Bell Labs. He wrote a lot of instrumental music, that's what he's mostly known for.

OO: I had the fortune to see his 70th birthday concert at Mills about 5 years ago and I wasn't familiar with a lot of his composed music, had maybe one or 2 of those nice Hat recordings, but there was one piece for solo violin, where a harmonic glissando is performed on every string from the lowest to the highest and it was just.. here's the instrument! It's pretty amazing.

CS: He was very fond of glissandi. I think that glissando as a musical technique shows up in quite a lot of his music, and maybe the influence of Xenakis who also did some incredible work with glissandi.

OO: I tend to think of Tenney as the major mind of modern American music that is overlooked by the larger system, whatever that means, that's not a very clear term: the larger system. But I think of somebody like Alvin Lucier, whose I Am Sitting In A Room is certainly significant, but I think a lot more music students have heard that piece and understand its place than have heard "for ann rising", for instance. When you brought up for ann rising, it seemed to me that it's every bit as significant in a way in terms of what it can give to a musical thinker. I guess it's an apple and an orange on some level.

CS: Yes, I think it is to a certain extent an apple and an orange. And it remains to be seen in the long run who history is going to bear out. I will agree with the general principle that Tenney is overlooked and not given enough attention. Whether that'll correct over time remains to be seen. When Bach died he was very obscure until Mendelson resurrected him many, many decades later. History is very strange and one can only hope that things will, in the course of longer periods of time, tend to find the proper balance.

OO: Is there anything else that you wanted to mention around your experiences with James Tenney before we move on to something else?

CS: Apart from the graduation party where everyone got so drunk that we ended up naked in a pool and he was cavorting with my then-girlfriend.

OO: Oh, really?

CS: Yeah. I was not happy with that and neither was his wife, who was also there. (Laughs)

OO: Who's that famous artist who he had.., the woman who did Beyond Meat Joy, remember that?

CS: Carolee Schneemann?

OO: Yeah. That wouldn't have been his wife at that time, would it?

CS: No, his wife at that time was Ann Holloway.

OO: I'm not familiar with her.

CS: Well, she died. They both came down with cancer right around the same time, and so did their dog.

OO: Who?

CS: Holloway and Jim.

OO: Really.

CS: And their dog. First of all, Jim smoked like a chimney and he got lung cancer which eventually killed him. But they also spent a lot of time in the desert in New Mexico. They loved the desert, him and Ann, and one theory is they may have stumbled upon some…

OO: Atomic residue.

CS: Radiation, yeah. I've heard that theory expounded. Anyway, she died tragically at a young age. He did remarry. He was quite popular with the ladies. And he came down with cancer which was in remission for a long time but eventually got him.

OO: It was a pretty close circle, everybody at the school it sounds like? I mean, that wasn't a one-time event, it was a fairly free associative environment between…

CS: Students and teachers? Yeah, perhaps too much so. Fraternization between teachers and students was something that was frowned upon but I don't think it was patently illegal like it is now. And it certainly happened a lot.

OO: He was kind of a free spirit, shall we say.

CS: Yeah, I think so. And I think if he hadn't been as drunk as he was, and we were all totally smashed, we all would have behaved ourselves a little better.

OO: I guess that happens. Moving back closer to the present. When you ended your tenure as a member of the staff (at KPFK), you shifted into being a full-time composer at that point?

CS: I took a job as the director of the California office of an organization called Meet The Composer, and that was part time work and the rest of the time I was free lancing as a composer. And I continued with Meet The Composer for about 12 years until I moved to San Francisco.

OO: You had the period, which I would guess was relatively short, when you were using that Publison machine to do a lot, which was transitional away from the studios at KPFK, is that right?

CS: Yes, that's right.

OO: And you had your home studio developing on some level.

CS: Yes, that's right.

OO: You said the Publison was stolen several times.

CS: (Laughs) Yes, several times.

OO: What did your home system begin to consist of after that? Was it a reel-to-reel deck or 2?

CS: Well, after it was stolen the last time, by that time I had started to insure it. So I got a pretty substantial insurance check. Cuz the thing was expensive, you could buy a car with what that thing cost, in those days. So that was when I made the transition to computer for composing. In 1986, the MacIntosh had arrived, MIDI had been developed, there were rack mountable synthesizers and samplers like the Yamaha TX-816 and the Prophet 2002, and so I started working with those units using a MacIntosh computer to control them. And I developed studio pieces like Four Pieces came out of that era. Most of that music was composed in 86/87.

OO: Woo Lae Oak was earlier, right? That was still KPFK?

CS: Woo Lae Oak came out, I think it was composed in 81, came out on LP in 84. And that was done at, yes, KPFK. So the studio that I developed at home with the money from the stolen Publison was an Apple MacIntosh based…

OO: MIDI synthesis system of some sort.

CS: MIDI synthesis and sampler.

OO: So were you sequencing things and then putting them through effects and processes?

CS: Some sequencing, but sequencing was kind of boring because sequencing is sequencing, especially in those days it really was very little you could do to a sequence other than play it back, but I used a set of algorithmic tools which were developed by a company called Intelligent Music on the East Coast and they had a program called M and a program called Jam Factory and I used these programs for composing and performing.

OO: Was that something you just discovered on your own? Is this talk between friends and somebody shares an idea..? Or did you feel like you were carving out your own…? Was it at all a lonely pursuit or is it something that you find a small coterie of friends and you figure it out? (Laughs.)

CS: There weren't that many people doing live computer work at that time. Computers weren't really portable, they were kind of luggable.

OO: So you'd bring a computer out if you got a concert? You'd bring the system out with you?

CS: Yeah. I had a bunch of rack flight cases. And I'd haul the computer onto the airplane with me.

OO: Like a 2C?

CS: No, like a Mac Plus, kind of that form factor. Like the original MacIntosh.

OO: Like a box or a toaster oven? A big toaster oven.

CS: A toaster oven maybe on its side. You could haul it around. It wasn't fun.

OO: You didn't have a lot of problems with losing connections inside it? You could travel around and the thing would boot up and function for you?

CS: The Mac was OK. Some of the other gear got a little dinged up. The other gear would have to go down the conveyor belt with the suitcases and everything.

OO: So you'd hand carry the…

CS: I'd hand carry the computer, yeah.

OO: Interesting. And then i guess that just transformed over time into the system that you're using now?

CS: Eventually, laptops came into being, and then using a laptop as a MIDI controller first, and then they became powerful enough that you could actually use them to do live DSP. And now they can do…

OO: All the peripheral stuff went away, suddenly.

CS: Yeah, eventually. That was always my goal. I always looked forward to the day and the day has arrived as of a few years ago.

OO: I realize that performance is your thing on some level. You haven't spent your life making sure that you release tons of CDs, or have you?

CS: No I have not.

OO: Is there a philosophy behind that? Some people seem to crank out records. I guess each person has their own predilection for how they get their music out there. You started that group out of school, what was the live music presentation group?

CS: ICA, the Independent Composers Group.

OO: Which was about creating concert situations for music, right?

CS: Right.

OO: Is it fair to say that you think music is most valuable as a live listening experience?

CS: No, not necessarily, because my roots as a composer are in recorded music, but I do like live music and the potential of live music because of its fluidity and the fact that it's not fixed and you can adjust. Performing to me means the ability to express, change, shape in real time. I don't know why I haven't done a lot of CDs. Just because I had so much trouble getting them out and getting them distributed. It seemed sort of like pissing in the wind. A couple of my CDs got some distribution and still exist to this day, like Mom's on the New Albion label can still be found, though it's not easy to find. Practically all my CDs got in the hands of labels that went out of business, well most of them are just all gone now. And now CDs..

OO: Are really going good-bye. It's pretty bizarre.

CS: I'm thinking about cranking up recordings and releasing them, because it's never been easier to release stuff, although it remains to be seen if anything you release actually will get listened to. I like to think of a systematic thing, where I'll put out a new track once a week or once a month or once a quarter or something like that and hope that people will listen to it.

OO: Do you have any thoughts about it as a model for subsistence as an artist, that's something I'm certainly thinking about. Getting music online, where it has a digital existence in a world where… It seems that kids these days (think), "A record? What would I need that for?" It's like a new philosophy, it's probably just pragmatic that "I can only carry so much stuff, OK?" Whereas you and me come from the generations that said "I'm collecting the shit that I think is really cool" and so we've got record collections that are like dragging a piano across the desert.

CS: Yeah, it represents a big commitment, and quite a burden, actually, hauling that stuff around. And I don't know if in the future that's really going to be… I mean, things can boomerang and there can be nostalgia and a kind of retro appreciation for older media like LPS or CDs, but I think as a practical matter I wouldn't rely on those things. And downloads, to monetize them, you talk about subsistence, it's very, very difficult. I don't think anybody's figured out really how to do it.

OO: You have to drive a lot of people to your website to make it add up to anything. As far as a living is concerned.

CS: I think, forget about a living. It seems very, very difficult. I think to a certain extent CDs can help, online music can help promote your… It's kind of the reverse of before where people would tour in order to promote their CDs and try to boost CD sales. Now, recorded music, downloaded usually for free and traded, serves to develop interest in an artist so that people will go hear his shows. And pay money for that.

OO: It seems like a smart mindset to have, that what you really are offering is yourself in person, presenting your music, and then at least you can attach a value to that which hints at what an artist making a living means. As opposed to "Here's my 99 cent song". it doesn't make a lot of sense.

CS: Right. Plus, listening in a concert is a special experience and especially if it's done with care and in an acoustic environment that's special. Listening in your living room is great, or in your car or a bus. You know, I just did a concert at the Berkeley Art Museum and really tried to use the acoustics of the museum.

OO: Which are difficult.

CS: Which are difficult, but I worked hard at it and people seemed to appreciate that. In the end, I thought the results were good. Very, very difficult but all the more reason why once you harness it you can have some success.

OO: I saw a photograph of you performing in there and I saw that you sat at a table in that little corner with that orange blob sitting there.

CS: Yeah, that orange blob, which was pretty much of a drag.

OO: It made an audience tend to lie down and go to sleep.

CS: Which was great. I was afraid it would prove too uncomfortable, but people did lie down and they reported that they enjoyed it.

OO: That's kind of a phenomenon. I know people have done things with marathon concerts where people are invited to bring sleeping bags and stuff.

CS: Yeah, Robert Rich has done sleep concerts for many years. And there's a guy in New Orleans Tanner Menard, who's done sleep concerts. I think in the 60s they were doing them too.

OO: I guess Lamonte Young's work would lend itself in that direction, too. Cluster, I remember when Cluster toured back in 96 and I saw them in Santa Cruz, I was sort of shocked at how many people were just lying on their backs. It seemed kind of rude to me for some reason, but I suppose it's a perfectly wonderful way to take in music.

CS: I was glad.

OO: Oh, that was you lying on your back. (Laughs)
Using the computer, you're able to get a pretty high end audio feed out of your computer? Do you have a decent sound card or is that available stock on a MacIntosh? Or do you have to customize your computer?

CS: Yeah. There are a number of audio interfaces that run the gamut from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars. And for live performance, you can get some very good ones for not that much money.

OO: But you don't use an outboard D/A type thing?

CS: I do.

OO: So that's kind of essential. A really good converter.

CS: Yeah.

OO: And then you could do anything with that that the converter allows, from multi-channel sound…

CS: Well, I have one that's 8 channels in and 4 channels out, and when I don't use that I use the one that's 4 channels in and 8 channels out, which is the one I used at the Berkeley Art Museum.

OO: So when I see a picture of you and there's just a laptop, where's the MOTU or whatever..?

CS: The picture you saw at the Berkeley Art Museum, all the sound equipment was at the other end of the hall.

OO: Are you wifi-ing it?

CS: Yes.

OO: Ahh, that's interesting. So is that an airport type of...?

CS: Exactly, airport.

OO: So airport goes out, it's converted to an analog signal there, goes into an amplifier and to the speakers. And that's pretty much it.

CS: Right.

OO: We could talk about some other people. For instance, the INA/GRM group of composers, being all those French guys. When those INA/GRM LPs came out probably around 1980, I was quite blown away by that presentation, that sound art could be so conscientiously packaged, as an art form. Were those records available to you as well? Out here around that time there was Paradox Music mail order (in Southern California), did you ever deal with that at KPFK? It was a place that got a ton of imports. People wouldn't send that stuff to KPFK from France. Would you find it at good record stores? Did you buy those records, or hear them at the time?

CS: I'm trying to remember. In those days, first of all I'd go to Europe sometimes and pick up LPs there, and if you went to France of course you could get all the GRM stuff. But they were imported, I think through Harmonia Mundi if my memory serves me. And KPFK was serviced by Harmonia Mundi, we could get stuff from them. And Tower had a pretty good classical music section, with a pretty good avant-garde section at the time. And later on you could find stuff through Rhino and Poo-Bah and Aaron's, they all had some stuff. I don't remember doing a lot of mail order, I didn't work with Paradox. I would get stuff in Europe or through Harmonia Mundi or through some other distributors, or retail, you just go to the stores.

OO: Did any of those artists strike a particular chord with you? I'm thinking of Francois Bayle, Bernard Parmegiani, Luc Ferrari… those people.

CS: Well, funny you should mention those three, because those were the ones that made the biggest impression on me. More than some of the others, but Parmegiani was the single most striking and interesting for me, because of the skillful way he mixed concrete and electronic sounds, really seamlessly combining the two. You know, for a long time, in France especially, well, throughout Europe there was a very big schism between composers who worked with so-called music concrete, microphone collected sounds and manipulated them, versus composers who worked with purely electronically generated sounds. And they almost didn't talk to each other. But there were breakthroughs that happened in the 70s, Parmegiani was one, even Stockhausen started to combine the two, it was very controversial. But Parmegiani was such a master at blending the two.

OO: Is that something that the term electro-acoustic attempts to justify?

CS: I think maybe so.

OO: Which is a term you…

CS: Co-opted.

OO: (Laughs) You relate to.

CS: Right. I used it for the name of my publishing company and refer to myself as an electro-acoustic composer. Parmegiani, Francois Bayle, Luc Ferrari. And Ferrari's work was also released I think on a Deutsche Grammaphon recording, his Presque Rien as I recall.

OO: Have you ever been in contact with any of those people or do you rub elbows with them when you're in Europe?

CS: Ferrari, I had dinner with him one time, it was really great, him and his wife, another couple of dear friends, they introduced me to him. And I met Parmegiani one time when he came to the US, and he looked up my teacher Morton Subotnick. And Subotinick called me up and invited me to come over, so Parmegiani, Michel Redolfi, me and maybe Barry Schrader was there also.

OO: That was during the 80s when you still lived in LA?

CS: It was in the early 80s, yeah. Parmegiani didn't speak any English at the time and my French is not very good, so…

OO: But these are people with whom you feel some commonality of purpose.

CS: Very much, yes. I love their work.

OO: It's kind of a small group of people in the world. I mean, is it such a small group of people who get, who understand this…? Audiences grow, but…

CS: Audiences grow. And through the power of media outlets like The Wire, I think a whole new generation has come to appreciate composers like Luc Ferrari. And now there's a lot of interest in field recording and the use of natural sound, nature sound, animal and insect sound etc. Soundscaping. So, I think there's a new younger generation that appreciates these composers.

OO: We were talking earlier about the uses of the internet as a music distribution tool in relation to live concerts. It does seem more and more, as I talk to people about generating music and publicizing it or just getting it out, you do have to, to some extent, just give it away, the recordings. As I've been told by some people, you have to just, at least your past work, just give it away, at least in some form. What is an MP3 really worth? Charging a dollar for an MP3 is both a trivialization of the piece as well as it seems like it's too much for an MP3 because the quality of the sound can be so trampled upon.

CS: Well, it's not just the quality of the sound, the value that it represents, but also the quality of the artistic work. It's a big problem. Jaron Lanier has written about this recently, about how the internet in a sense is stifling creativity, he argues because… it's not just composers. Journalists, critics are finding it very hard to monetize their work, serious work, because of the internet.

OO: Because of this exact issue of: you're either giving it away or you're getting a big grant or something. And there's no in between. It mirrors what's happened to our culture in terms of the upper end siphoning off all the money and there not being any in between any more.

CS: It seems like there is very little in between.

OO: If I can quiz you a little bit about the current technology. You've told me that the cycling74 relationship that you have has been quite positive and that their product, which I guess we can call MAX MSP, that continues to develop in such a way that it serves you pretty well.

CS: Mm hmm.

OO: And I think there's a pretty large community of people who have been drawn to this method of making music.

CS: Large is a relative term, I mean compared to what? For music software, the kind of Goliath for live performance of computer music in this day is probably Ableton Live, which is now integrated with MAX.

OO: Have you worked with that at all? Any comments?

CS: Well, it's a terrific tool, that actually was prototyped in MAX before it became its own product. And so it's kind of come home again in that now there's a program called MAX for Live, which allows you to program, using MAX as a programming language but it fits inside of the program Live. So it's a great extension for Ableton Live. And there are a lot of other software choices too. The biggest problem is keeping track of everything, especially for programming languages. So I'm doing my best because I have to teach this stuff.

OO: Say you were a visiting artist in my hometown of, say, Spokane, and we asked you to do a master class and a bunch of young, eager people showed up with their MacIntoshes. What would you take them through, and let's say the prerequisites were that they had to have some of these softwares. I don't know if this is what you do at the University in Japan. At the beginning of the semester, do you sit down and help people get outfitted and comfortable with the gear? Is that your job? To make people feel comfortable in the setting of being an electronic music composer?

CS: To a certain extent. Part of it is just them figuring out what they want to do and then figuring out what the best tools are for them to do it. And it may be MAX MSP, it may be a program called Processing that may be better for them, or it may be Flash programming, or it may be working with Python, or a program like Supercollider, or with Ableton Live or maybe just ProTools.

OO: Wha's that thing, open source programming the Princeton Laptop Orchestra developed? Have you encountered that group at all? Do you know who Gae Wang is, the guy at Stanford who co-developed this laptop orchestra idea?

CS: It's funny, there are laptop orchestras springing up all over, and they each has their own unique approach. Some are networks, some of them bring their own instruments and perform as instruments without sending data or networking with each other, so a lot of different approaches.

OO: They actually designed a six-speaker domed sound array that I became obsessed with and I built one for myself. It's got three stereo amplifiers, tiny little t-amps inside it, whatever capacitors and stuff you feel like upgrading it to and some car speakers mounted in this, the one I made is built out of an IKEA salad bowl.

CS: Do you subscribe to MAKE magazine?

OO: I have a copy that somebody gave to me but I don't see it very often.

CS: MAKE is very cool, and a lot of people are DIYing.

OO: There's audio discussions in there?

CS: Yeah, I mean, there's a whole movement in music making called circuit bending where people actually build circuits on stage and that's how they improvise.

OO: On stage, really? Just kind of crackle music?

CS: Right. Kind of like David Tudor did some of that back in the day, but now a lot of kids are doing it.

OO: Did you know Michel Waiswisz at all? Did you go over to, what's his place called?

CS: The Steim? I didn't work on any projects at Steim. I visited Steim. I first saw him perform with his Crackle Box. And then of course he developed his incredible interface called The Hands.

OO: Hands. That was unbelievable when I saw that in Boston. What year was that, 85 maybe?

CS; Something like that. Maybe a little later.

OO: That was one of those stellar moments that I'll always remember.

CS: He did a great performance here in LA as part of a computer music conference, that was pretty fantastic. It worked musically, it was very theatrical. This must have been 86 or 87. I remember thinking about what he was doing, he was basically playing a series of Yamaha tone modules working in the edit mode. Changing sounds, editing the sounds on the fly as he performed.

OO: It was pretty astounding.

CS: Yeah, it was really good.

OO: So, I'm in this master class, I'm a young composer and I want to break into MAX. What am I doing? Am I making object-to-object… Is MAX similar to MIDI in that you're mapping objects but in a virtual world? I find that there's sort of a stumbling area, where you almost need to be told: Oh,by the way, this is how you do it. It seems to me there could be easier, there are definitely easier interfaces, why something like Ableton succeeds as a mass marketed product.

CS: Yes, it's a matter of interface and I think also Ableton is optimized to satisfy the needs of maybe 80 to 90% of the musical community that's working maybe in clubs or as DJs.

OO: As a VJ programmer…

CS: They're doing repetitive music that's loop based.

OO: I do that.

CS: Well, stick with Ableton, because that's what it's optimized for. MAX is kind of a blank slate and you kind of roll your own from the beginning and you can do repetitive music, I mean: for example, me, but you don't have to.

OO: What's the learning curve for getting into it, I mean that you've noticed in your students. You probably have students who will veer towards the more product-oriented thing that we were just talking about. Whereas others will get into the, I guess MAX is more of a programmer's language, isn't it?

CS: Well yeah, it is a programming language. It just has a graphic interface. And I think that the people who are interested in growing their own and in bending circuits and plugging connections together and seeing what catches fire or explodes will be more interested in MAX MSP. The people who kind of want a comfortable interface with things laid out…

OO: In windows, isn't that the difference? It's like windows and buttons, as opposed to MAX which looks more like programming language, little dots and lines between things.

CS: Well it is a programming language and there is no standard interface. The interface is all worked out for you in a program like Ableton, which is great if you don't want to spend time working on that. As a teaching model, MAX MSP is more like… giving someone driving lessons versus teaching someone how to build a car and then drive it.

OO: I guess as a big democratist, it seems like the specialized computer language based thing is always going to remain in the… not so much in the hands, but a territory for a small group of people. I guess you just have to want to do it. And to put on the shoes and jump in and get yourself dirty and pay your dues and all that other stuff, and that's just the way it is.

CS: That's right.

OO: I'm kind of a Luddite, but you have to know a crapload about computers to do anything these days. I find myself in between. I already have such a long list of computer programs I'm supposed to understand. OK, which should I choose? It annoys the hell out of me. Because I believe it's an area in which I should be working. I guess it just takes a certain level of commitment and that's hard to come by these days when there's so many things to do with our time.

CS: That's right, there's so much stuff competing for your time. And you have to really roll up your sleeves and learn something like that. It's definitely a commitment, no question about it. programs like Photoshop, you can get in and get away with doing something that takes 30 minutes to learn but it's 2% or 1% of the program's capabilities. If you really want to squeeze the juice out of a program like that you really have to study it.

OO: The same is true for MAX, you'd say. You can jump in and do a little here or there… First you're using an oscillator that creates a tone, then you're adding…, you're simulating different generative systems. Isn't that what you're doing?

CS: That's one of the things. Remember that...

OO: You can do anything you can think of.

CS: You can do a lot of what you can think of. But, it's not that easy, you don't get that much out of your first ten minutes in MAX MSP as you would in ten minutes in Ableton Live or GarageBand or those kind of programs.

OO: But you'd recommend people... to plug away at it. And that's what you do with your students?

CS: Yes.

OO: Do you find students saying I'm having a hard time with this? Do you have to do a lot of that?

CS: Yes.

OO: It's not hand holding, what is it? Encouragement, keep at it. And look at this, you're not seeing that. So it's details.

CS: Yes, exactly. Going deeper and deeper, that's right.

OO: And that's what computers are: a lot of commas and dots, and...

CS: Elipsis and parenthesis.

OO: That each one means something and if they're not in the right place… To me, that's such a weird future where the artist is a parenthesis minder.

CS: Well, artists have always had to take care of the technical aspects of their craft, whether it was how you mixed your paints or how you chipped away at your stones or…

OO: True. Or getting a woodwind section to show up on time.

CS: That's the hardest part. Or getting a Thai singer to meet you at noon like she promised.

Carl Stone (born Carl Joseph Stone, February 10, 1953) is an American composer, primarily working in the field of live electronic music. His works have been performed in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, and the Near East.
Stone studied composition at the California Institute of the Arts with Morton Subotnick and James Tenney and has composed electro-acoustic music almost exclusively since 1972. As an undergrad at CalArts, he had a work-study job in the Music Library, which had many thousands of LP records in the circulating collection (this was 1973). The collection included a lot of western classical music of course but also a really comprehensive world music collection, avant-garde, electronic music, jazz and more. Because the librarians were concerned that the LPs, many of which were rare, would soon become unlistenable at the hands of the students and faculty, his job was to take every disc and record it onto cassette, a kind of back-up operation. He soon discovered that he could monitor the output of any of the recordings he was making and even mix them together without disturbing the recordings. So, he began to experiment, making musical collages, and started to develop habits of combining disparate musical materials. In addition to his composition and performance schedule, he is a faculty member in the Department of Information Media, School of Information Science and Technology at Chukyo University in Japan.
Stone utilizes a laptop computer as his primary instrument and his works often feature very slowly developing manipulations of samples of acoustic music, speech, or other sounds. Because of this, as well as his preference for tonal melodic and harmonic materials similar to those used in popular musics, Stone's work has been associated with the movement known as minimalism.
Prior to his settling on the laptop, in the 1980s, he created a number of electronic and collage works utilizing various electronic equipment as well as turntables. Prominent works from this period include Dong Il Jang (1982) and Shibucho (1984), both of which subjected a wide variety of appropriated musical materials (e.g. Okinawan folk song, European Renaissance music, 1960s Motown, etc.) to fragmentation and looping. In this way his work paralleled innovations being made in the early days of rap and hip hop (e.g. Grandmaster Flash, of whose work he was unaware at the time). It was during this period that he began naming many of his works after his favorite restaurants (often Asian ones).
His first residency in Japan, sponsored by the Asian Cultural Council, was from November 1988 to April 1989. While living in Tokyo he collected more than 50 hours of recordings of the city's urban soundscape, which he later used as the basis for his radio composition Kamiya Bar, sponsored by Tokyo FM radio, and released on a CD of the same name by the Italian label NewTone / Robi Droli.
Stone has collaborated frequently with Asian performers, including traditional instrumentalists such as Min Xiao-Fen (pipa), Yumiko Tanaka (shamisen), Kazue Sawai (koto), Michiko Akao (ryuteki), and those working with modern instruments, such as Otomo Yoshihide (turntables, guitar), Kazuhisa Uchihashi (guitar, daxophone), Yuji Takahashi (computer, piano), and vocalists such as Reisu Saki and Haco. He has also collaborated on an album with Hirohito Ihara's Radicalfashion and recently with Alfred Harth who partly lives in Korea.
Beginning in the early years of the 21st century, Stone began to compose more frequently for acoustic instruments and ensembles, completing a new work for the San Francisco Bay Area-based American Baroque.
Stone served as president of the American Music Center from 1992 to 1995, and was director of Meet the Composer/California from 1981 to 1997. He also served as music director of KPFK-FM in Los Angeles from 1978 to 1981.
For many years, Stone has divided his time between San Francisco and Japan.
In 1999 he was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.
 - wikipedia

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