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Saturday, April 2, 2022

Short Circuits - Ruth White


Satie: Gymnopedie No. 1

Short Circuits
Electronic Realizations And Performances by Ruth White
Angel S-36042

From the back cover: Electronic composer and innovator Ruth White is considered among today's most gifted arbiters of what is termed "the new music". Formally educated in piano and composition (she has three degrees from Pennsylvania's Carnegie Tech), Miss White discusses her work in her Southern California studio: "I do not have a formal classical electronic background – that is self-taught. In fact, I was careful not to study electronics with anyone. Because I have been working in recording for many years, I felt that there was a directness of approach that I wanted to develop which was totally missing from the electronic scene in classical music." How effectively her medium has conveyed her message may be judged by the critical comment awarded her own original electronic compositions.

Writing of "Seven Trumps From The Tarot Cards," a completely electronic score reflecting her impressions of the occult, Donal Henahan commended Miss White in The New York Times for her "musical inventiveness and electronic sophistication." From Paul Eberie in the Los Angeles Free Press: "Miss White has explored electronics to find a new instrumentation of voices for her compositions, and has conceived it as an extension of the music of the past, rather than a break from it, or a renunciation."

"Pinions" was commissioned by dance choreographer Eugene Loring for the University of California. After the 1986 premiere, the Los Angeles Times commented: "...a really exciting, organically musical, electronic score by Ruth White. Not only the soloists but all the participants seemed to draw heat from this score...". Flowers Of Evil," an electronic music setting for the poems of Baudelaire utilizing the human voice (her own) as an instrument, represents to Free Press critic the evolution of music."

"In addition to the composition mentioned above which have involved her in the fields of choreography and spoken word among others, Miss White has become increasingly active in the arts most closely allied to electronics: television, motion pictures and audio-visual cassettes.

For this, her next album on Angel, Ruth White has electronically realized a selection of favorite classical encore pieces. "The composers involved," she comments, "were, in a very real sense, trying to paint pictures with the means of their times. For example, Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Flight Of The Bumblebee' is a visual, as well as an audio experience, which I have transformed with the means of our times. The Satie is an ethereal motif enveloped in electronic voices... the Debussy, one of my particular favorites, is a spatial experience. The Shostakovich 'Polka' is an electric slapstick reinterpretation of the composer's own slapstick. In each case the idea is a musical one transformed electronically."

In the following note, Ruth White talks about "Short Circuits" in greater detail: 

One day, I found my old piano score of "Flight Of The Bumblebee." I remembered my early musical experience; at the same time. I had a flash of new insight. Why not play this music again? Why not perform it electrically and bring it to new life with electronically conceived orchestrations? For instance, why not shape a wave to simulate a pitched "Bee" sound?

Later, other ideas occurred to me. An important one was that of the steady or almost metronomically paced rhythm. A constant forward flow felt right for these performances, and it was right for the structuring of electronic music. For this reason, there are none of the usual ritards, no momentary or gradual slowing (or speedings).

For a large part of the album, I used keyboard music, as I did not wish to be bound by preconceived orchestral ideas. Instead, I wrote new lines, newt types of counterpoints that often took advantage of my electronic means...  humorous, sliding oscillators; a rapidly flitting butterfly line, etc.

The entire album was created using the instruments in my studio: several electric and electronic keyboards, a Moog synthesizer, multichannel tape recorders, speed changers, reverberation units, etc. I did a lot of processing of sounds, so performance of an entire piece was seldom a straight, real time layering of track upon track.

The best thing I can say of any work is that I am sorry when it is finished. In the case of "Short Circuits," I can truly say that I had as much fun with this music... even more... the second time around. – Ruth White

Rimsky-Korsakov: The Flight Of The Bumblebee
Satie: Gymnopedie No. 1
Debussy: The Snow Is Dancing
White: Variations On Couperin's Roudeau
Greig: The Butterfly
Verdi: Anvil Chorus
Scarlatti: Tempo Di Ballo
Chopin: Etude In G Flat
C.P.E. Bach: Solfeffietto
Chopin: Prelude In E Major
Shostakovich: Polka From "The Age Of Gold"
Bizet: The Ball
Scarlatti: Sonata In G
Albeniz: Asturias

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