Electronic Music

"Outstanding Warrants"


Electronic Compositions
Previously Unreleased:

My previous CD, titled "Criminal Record," was described as "a record of acts committed or omitted in violation of laws forbidding or commanding them." It has been in hiding for the past ten years. It contained selections of my music from some fifteen LP's which also have been in hiding since "time immemorial." Now, the present CD, a follow up to "Criminal Record" and titled "Outstanding Warrants" as it contains "acts committed or omitted in violation of (etc.)", but ones not previously apprehended.

Fanfare (ca.1988) was composed in quest of an occasion to celebrate at a time when none was in sight, hence the hellish character of the piece. Then, three occasions that call for celebration came about.  First, an electronic music event at the Istanbul Festival (September 1991); some years later (1996) a lecture-concert of my music at the Acousmatheque of the GRM (Radio France, Paris); and now, this CD. On the programs of all three I placed this piece as the opener, despite its nature which is at odds with the joyousness of the occasions.

The first sketch of Prelude No.17 dates from the mid-sixties. One summer night, on a visit to Istanbul, there was a heavy fog in the city. The sounds of foghorns and bells were heard. I notated them and, back to New York, reproduced them electronically.   As I had to work on a separate project, what was to be another prelude remained unfinished.  I returned to it nearly three decades later and the result was what I titled "Istanbul Fog."

I divided the Preludes for Magnetic Tape that I composed throughout the years into four reels, six on each. Then, instead of "reel," I said "book," the latter word being more in usage for such purposes. Remains to clarify, if necessary, that there should be no implication of music on paper put together in books. The Prelude No.19 opens Book IV and dates from 1990.

Cipher Casting (1992). Nullities and nonentities gaining prominence by the millions, obliterating all that is of value.  The medium is the mass age.

If I were to give a title to Prelude No.20 (1992), it would be one about a wanderer who plays a tune on a found instrument that looks and sounds not much like any other.

"Letting a hundred flowers blossom" is the second of three Mao Sketches   (with quotations from Mac Tse-tung, in English translations, read by Gungor Mimaroglu). In the 1970's Jean Dupuy, a French artist living in New York, organized in his SoHo studio a series of performance events he called Grommets, participated by many artists who were establishing their names. For one of the Grommets, Dupuy asked me to contribute a composition. The result was Mao Sketches, heard in the course of Grommets 3 (four days in early December, 1976). Among the contributors to that particular event, described as "simultaneous art performances," were Laurie Anderson, Charlemagne Palestine, Nam June Paik, a.c.

During those days I was away from New York and could not attend the event to experience the whole thing, particularly the way my music reached the audiences and took its part in the collective performances.

La Belle et la poubelle (1995).  "Beauty and the garbage," if you will. The French title is not only for the purpose of euphonious pun.  While I was working on the piece, the French motto, "Chercher une vie dans les poubelles," was often prompting me: "Looking for a life within garbage bags, garbage cans."  One day I saw, amidst the garbage of a New York sidewalk, a beggar playing the flute.  Then another flute player passed by, riding a unicycle. Composed in my own studio, the piece is a sort of flute concerto.  The solo part is structured with sounds obtained through a sampler, thus "played" by a nonexistent flutist.

Prelude No.24 (1994). The sacred number had to be reached.  (In the matter of the number's, 24's, sacredness, refer to the Preludes of Chopin and Debussy.)

For a concert in Paris, rather than trying to cope with the translation of the piece's title, "Doomsayer's Doomsday," I gave it a different one in French: Ainsi perissait I'oracle maudit," i.e., "Thus perished the accursed oracle."With much titles, the sacredness of this Prelude relates only to its number.

Bleakar Streets (1986). All I need to say about this piece is that in New York City there is a Bleecker Street and there are bleaker streets.

It was Ussachevsky's prediction, many years ago, that the day will come when sounds (instrumental sounds, a.c.) will be available for purchase.  That day has long been with us now.  The Prelude No.22 (ca.1993) is made with the sounds of a violin playing solo, and there was no violinist, not even a violin, in sight.  Same as the multitude of instruments (instrumentists?) on Prelude No.21.  These are in contradistinction to Prelude No.10, dating from the mid-sixties (1966) at which time the sounds were not marketed yet and for which I obtained the source material from the actual percussion instruments.

Melody Lost and Found (ca.1990).  The title is after the fact.  The piece was untitled.  Basically, it consisted of a melody.  It was lost and remained so for a long period of time, then found.  It was composed in my own studio on an EML synthesizer, hence the sound material is purely electronic.

The Large Largo (1989) is the final piece I composed at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center.  After a quarter of a century I couldn't work there any longer as smoking was prohibited in all areas of the building.  Some years later the equipment of the classic studio (tape recorders and all) was discarded, to be replaced by computers, which would have terminated my association with CPEMC anyhow.

All the pieces on this CD dated after 1989 were composed in my own studio and all the ones prior to the said date at CPEMC.  To set the appellations straight: Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (1959-1983); Columbia University Electronic Music Center (1883-1994);

At the time I was working on The Last Largo, I wrote the following about it:

Here ends that unfinished something.  Some other thing was to come before or after.

Maybe at the same time.  The shutter goes down and the picture reveals itself.  The likeness of a smile.  On a close look, it’s a grimace.  Remains to find out what’s hidden behind the twist.  The task is to fill in what appears to be missing.  Events to follow each other is a semblance of approximation.  All along a figure on the rooftop blows a silent horn.  The implants make the memory system disintegrate even further.  Now the whole thing is more of a puzzle.  Time is no object.  Try to solve the mystery or just stand by.  Try to explain the night or just look the other way.  Comes the daylight.  No more stars.

While I was listening the "Outstanding Warrants", my son John Unver Culkin,
who is 4.6 years old, interpretted it as fantasy and weird music.

The above digital design and the text also completely belong to him.
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*A Profile of Ilhan MIMAROGLU

Time has told in first person singular that I was born March 11, 1926, in Istanbul, turkey; son of the eminent architect, Kemalletin, whom I have never known as he died when I was barely a year old.  He had wanted me to grow up with music.  There was a phonograph in our house and a number of classical records.  Those were my only toys.

I was also hearing music that the environment was offering me, music that I regarded rather anodine and began to say to myself that there ought to be more to music than all that.  Indeed there was. First jazz revealed itself to me, then contemporary art music.  My mother wanted me to go to the conservatory.  I declined. They would teach me the wrong things there I didn't know enough about music yet to tell what's wrong and what's not.  Instead, law school.  I couldn't have cared less about law anyway.  But I learned one important thing there, that I should obey only laws I could have made myself.  Then came the time for music education as I knew enough about music to avoid the pitfalls.  One learns best what ones already knows.

The first products of electronic music and/or musique concrete reached me in the early fifties.  By that time I had established a reputation in Turkey as a writer and broadcaster on music.  The Rockefeller Foundation heard about me and had me visit New York for a program of studies at Columbia University (primarily in musicology under Paul Henry Lang and composition under Douglas Moore).

A few years later I returned to New York to establish residence and further my studies at Columbia with a program centered around electronic music as in the course of my first visit I had come into closer contact with the work in electronic music (tape music) conducted at Columbia University by Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky.

For many years I worked in the studios of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Center.  My primary mentor was Ussachevsky.  I also had the occasion to work with Edgard Varese and Stefan Wolpe, among others.  In the early 1970's I was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in music compositions.

In addition to my electronic and instrumental/vocal compositions, I wrote a number of books (on history of music, jazz, electronic music, plus a set of diaries, all published in Turkey).

Even if I hadn't done anything else, having written (and published) my "Project Utopia" pamphlet, I would have regarded my existence justified.

BAHAR sayisi web'dedir.



@The Light Millennium magazine was created and designed
by Bircan ÜNVER. 6th issue. Summer 2001, New York.
URL: http://www.lightmillennium.org