Album Notes


Two Lines

David Rosenboom
MIDI Grand Piano, HFG (Hierarchical Form Generator), Responding Sampled Piano

Anthony Braxton
Sopranino, Soprano & Alto Saxophones, Clarinet & Flute

In my writings on Propositional Music, I refer to improvisation as composition that is immediately heard, in contrast to composition that is subsequently heard. There are three senses in which the music on this CD is composed.

First, some of the music is based on a completely notated score, Two Lines, which I wrote for Anthony Braxton and myself in 1989. Like much of my music, Two Lines is an investigation of forms in nature, with particular emphasis on models of evolution. The score is comprised of a single line of music with chords and clusters. To generate it, I began with a drone, the symbol of ultimate stability and stasis in musical form. Then, I greatly amplified the tiny, microscopic variations contained in even the most perfect drone and translated these into the notes of a melodic line. Finally, the original drone was removed. Surprisingly, the music that remains is highly ordered, containing patterns that can be observed at any scale of magnification and, hopefully, preserving some of the rhythms of life.

This line is intended to serve as a focal point, around which a kind of musical space or field, complete with its own definition of gravity or attraction to ideas, becomes defined when two or more individuals bring to it their own interpretations. The musicians’ instructions invoke a feeling of sportsmanship. There is no meter. We will slow down and speed up. Sometimes we’ll play as fast as possible. Sometimes we’ll slow it way down. We’ll add some dynamic changes. Any chord or note with multiple accidentals presents some choices: choose a primary pitch and play it; embellish a primary pitch by arpeggiating the chord or playing the extra notes as ornaments. When the music starts, dive in and meet at the end. Two Lines can be played by any instrumentalists and a version for soloists with ensembles of any size has also been created.

Second, I have written a musical computer program, called HFG (Hierarchical Form Generator), using the well known music software, HMSL (Hierarchical Music Specification Language). HFG is used here in much of the piano performance. It contains a partial model of musical perception with which it listens to any musical input while attempting to parse or separate this music into meaningful segments or phrases. These become available for the performer to recall from memory singly or in combinations. A repertoire of functions is available with which to transform both the spontaneous, incoming music and the memorized phrase groupings. Some of the functions are suggested by graphic icons accompanying the listing of sections. These often transformed phrases are intended to interact with each other in a way that stimulates the emergence of new forms or ideas. In this way, they bring a kind of structure to the improvisations.

Third, open musical spaces are interposed between sections of Two Lines and inside each of the other selections. They are the result of our collective improvisations. I am indebted to Anthony Braxton for participating in this collaboration. Few musicians have integrated composition and performance so thoroughly, are able to immediately comprehend the ideas involved in this work and understand that continuous, interactive transformation is fundamental to dynamic, musical dialogue.

David Rosenboom, Valencia, CA USA, 5/30/94

All the material for this CD was recorded live, directly onto digital stereo tape, by composer/engineerTom Lopez in one long session at the California Institute of the Arts’ Computer Music Studios on October 3, 1992. In March, 1994 I edited and processed the material digitally in my home studio. No overdubbing or multi-tracking was employed.

— D.R.

The composition Two Lines and the computer programs are by David Rosenboom. The performances and collaborative improvisations are by Anthony Braxton and David Rosenboom.

Copyright © 1994 by David Rosenboom and Anthony Braxton
Published by David Rosenboom Publishing (BMI).

Photo of David Rosenboom by Steven A. Gunther.
Photo of Anthony Braxton by Bill Burkhart.
Art Direction and Design: By Design

David Rosenboom (b. 1947), composer, performer, conductor, interdisciplinary artist, author and educator, has explored ideas in his work about the spontaneous evolution of forms, languages for improvisation, new techniques and notation for ensembles, cross-cultural collaborations, performance art, computer music systems, interactive multi-media, compositional algorithms, and the structure of the brain and nervous system since the 1960’s. His work is widely distributed and presented and he is known as a pioneer in American experimental music. Rosenboom has been Dean of the School of Music and Co-Director of the Center for Experiments in Art, Information and Technology at the California Institute of the Arts since 1990. He taught at Mills College from 1979 to 1990, was Professor of Music, Head of the Music Department, Director of the Center for Contemporary Music, and held the Darius Milhaud Chair from 1987 to 1990. His collaborations with Anthony Braxton began at Mills in 1985. He studied at the University of Illinois with Salvatore Martirano, among others, and has worked and taught in innovative institutions, such as the Center for Creative and Performing Arts at SUNY Buffalo, New York’s Electric Circus, York University in Toronto, where he was Professor of Music and Interdisciplinary Studies, the University of Illinois, where he was recently awarded the George A. Miller Professorship, New York University, the Banff Center for the Arts, Simon Fraser University, the Aesthetic Research Centre of Canada, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the California College of Arts and Crafts.

Anthony Braxton (b. 1945), composer, multi-instrumentalist, teacher and conductor, is an acknowledged leader in the fields of closed-and-open-form composition, systematic approaches to the languages of improvisation, and extended performance techniques. He studied philosophy, music composition, and harmony at Roosevelt University and the Chicago Musical College. In 1966, Braxton joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, an organization which was instrumental in the development of creative, improvised music in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Since that time, he has recorded widely and performed throughout the world, winning numerous prizes and awards for both composition and performance. From 1985 to 1990, he was a Professor of Music at Mills College in Oakland and holder of the Darius Milhaud Chair in Music from 1985 to 1987. At Mills he engaged in collaborations with his colleagues, composer-performer, David Rosenboom, and percussionist, William Winant, that resulted in the formation of Challenge, a performance collective that performed and recorded for several years. Braxton has formed numerous other groups in the past, such as the Anthony Braxton Quartet, a performing group with a long tradition, and has composed music for a wide range of instrumental ensembles, from chamber groups to multiple orchestras. In 1990, Braxton was appointed Professor of Music at Wesleyan University in Connecticut where he has also been Chairman of the Music Department. In 1994 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.

Copyright © 1994 David Rosenboom/Anthony Braxton (BMI)
© P 1995 Lovely Music, Ltd.

LCD 3071  [D] [D] [D]