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Speaking of Music:
Morton Subotnick, 1985

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 89 min
Event Type: Interview and Music Program Origin: KPFA

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Charles Amirkhanian interviews pioneering electronic music composer Morton Subotnick on Jan. 10, 1985, as part of the San Francisco Exploratorium’s Speaking of Music series. Subotnick is one of the leading composers in combining acoustic instruments and electronic processing. His “ghost electronics” change and redirect the sound of the instruments as they play. The focus of this discussion is Subotnick’s “The Double Life of Amphibians”, a work of musical theater that combines a chamber ensemble, several Buchla 400 synthesizers, and the the vocals of Joan La Barbara. The piece takes as its theme or metaphor, the biological model of evolution, and seeks to relate in musical terms the rise of life from out of the sea and onto the land, and the development of the human spirit. Subotnick illustrates his points with multiple excerpts from the piece, slides, and a brief video documentary. The program concludes with a stunning recording of “The Last Dream of the Beast” featuring the vocals of Joan La Barbara.

Part 1 of 2:  
Musical Selections:  Ascent Into Air [excerpts, from “The Double Life of Amphibians”] (1981) -- [excerpt from a video documentary] (5:00)
Performers:  CalArts Twentieth Century Players (Ascent)
Genre:  Electro-Acoustic / Electronic
Subject:  Subotnick, Morton; Electro-acoustic; Electronic music; Music theater; Instrumental ensembles
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Subotnick, Morton
Recording Date:  1/10/1985
First Broadcast Date:  3/21/1986
 
Part 2 of 2:  
Musical Selections:  The Last Dream of the Beast [from “The Double Life of Amphibians”] (1979) (14:40)
Performers:  Joan La Barbara, vocals
Erika Duke, violoncello
Dane Little, violoncello
Genres:  Electro-Acoustic / Electronic; Music Theater
Subject:  Subotnick, Morton; Electro-acoustic; Electronic music; Music theater; Vocalises with cello ; Vocalises with electronics
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Subotnick, Morton ; La Barbara, Joan, 1947-; Kirkpatrick, Erika Duke; Little, Dane
Recording Date:  1/10/1985
First Broadcast Date:  3/21/1986
 
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