pipe organ and tape

Robert Morris

Program Notes

Curtains for pipe organ and tape was written in the spring of 1975 at the request of the American organist and composer William Albright who premiered it at the Sixth Annual International Contemporary Organ Music Festival at the Hartt College of Music. The title of the piece has at least three references. (1) The work concerns itself with blending, rather than contrasting, the organ with the electronically generated stereo tape. This evokes a continuous tapestry of sound with various gestures and textures being partially masked by other permeable sonic layers. (2) The piece is formally symmetric, connoting the visual effect of a stage with its dispersion of curtains and scrims. The outside sections of the work are based on two related twelve-tone chords which frame the interior three areas. These areas are all symmetrically disposed about the pitch f# and are for organ and tape, organ alone, and tape alone, respectively. A further differentiation between the middle of the work and its extremities is that the former is marked by continuous transformation of harmony and timbre whereas the latter involve abrupt changes of pace, intensity, and texture. (3) The fateful, inexorable, final moments of the last section probably has the most obvious connection to "curtains" (an American expression, meaning half-sardonically, "death", "the end"), but the whole work has an ominous and often somber quality about it.

The tape was realized in the Yale Electronic Music Studio.