Rapport (1971)
pre-recorded tapes, synthesizer, and tape-delay system

Robert Morris

Program Notes

Rapport was conceived in 1971 as an improvisational piece for two players using pre-recorded tapes of music to be processed through electronic music equipment. The tapes contain over 70 examples of "world music" which are played simultaneously during a performance. The music on the tapes is not directly heard but is sampled, modified, intermixed, and transformed by the performers in real time. One performer mixes and/or modulates the tape music with synthesizer sounds while the other processes the sounds made by the first performer through a tape-delay-system. The system produces roughly the same effect as digital delay in present computer music technology, but it does its job physically by replaying sounds back after a delay of about 4 seconds. The result is a intricate canonic web of sound. There are different states of the system which are called for by the first performer and executed by the second. The length of the pre-recorded material is 30 minutes, so the piece has to last a little longer than a half an hour. While the piece always begins in the same way with a piece of South Indian (veena) music mixed with a melody from a Medieval mystery play, each performance takes its own course, exploring the possible interconnections between the recorded music and the electronic processes and sounds, depending on the improvisational skill of the performers.

The piece is designed to be played in a comfortable setting for a small group of people invited to attend a performance. Before each performance, the nature of the piece is explained and the electronic component illustrated; after the performance, the performers encourage discussion and answer questions. Refreshments are served to heighten the relaxed and informal nature of the event.

The idea behind the piece was to allow two performers familiar with world musics and well-versed in electronic music performance to improvise a piece integrating musics of all peoples and times into a vast tapestry of sound--a non-hierarchic tribute to music making in its many guises and incarnations.