Williams, Sean (2014). Separation/Integration. In Concert of works centred on David C Johnson The University of Edinburgh.


This programme is built around David C Johnson’s 4-channel tape piece Telefun, realised in the WDR Studio for Electronic Music, Cologne.
Gemini 8 is a new work by Sean Williams for Grey Area based on NASA's Gemini missions of the 1960s which paved the way for the Apollo missions to the moon. Gemini 8, piloted by Neil Armstrong, was the first manned space mission in which two spacecraft, launched an hour and a half apart, successfully docked with one another, although not without almost catastrophic problems and the forced aborting of the mission. This was the practical application of technology that was going on outside the studio whilst others were toiling away, crafting some of the finest electronic music made to date. Gemini 8 is a structured improvisation, so aside from this structure, equal creative input is given by each player.
David C Johnson occupies a rare position in 20th Century music history, having worked with many composers and musicians from Lachenmann to avant rock band Can. From 1966-1970 he worked at the WDR Studios for Electronic Music in Cologne, assisting Karlheinz Stockhausen with the realisation of Hymnen and other works, and was one of the musicians who performed for 6 months in the West German pavilion of the 1970 World's Fair in Osaka.
In 1970 during the World’s Fair in Osaka, Johnson, along with Rolf Gehlhaar and Johannes Fritsch separated from Stockhausen to set up the Feedback Studio out of which a wide range of innovative music practices and research flourished, including more open ideas about the role of the composer, especially in sound art and more cybernetic audio practices.
Telefun was composed and realised during a break in the realisation of Hymnen when Stockhausen was in Tokyo creating Telemusik. The piece allows for a number of interruptions, the first of which will be:
Toccatina by Helmut Lachenmann, performed by Emma Lloyd, is a short study for solo violin. The piece explores some of the more peculiar sounds in the violin’s timbral range, including notes played with the screw of the bow and sounds made by bowing the tail-piece, bridge, tuning pegs and scroll.
Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klavierstück XVI was written for piano or synthesizer as a scene from Friday from the Licht operas and is our second interruption to Johnson’s Telefun. Simon Smith plays his own realisation for synthesizer and is accompanied by the 4-channel tape version. PIANO PIECE XVI does not demand virtuosity, but rather, imagination and a sense of humour. It is up to the pianist to decide how many and which notes of the tape he (she) synchronously plays. At a given moment, there are many different possibilities.
Our third interruption is a realisation of Yoko Ono’s 1963 Tape Piece III: Snow Piece:
Take a tape of the sound of the snow
This should be done in the evening.
Do not listen to the tape.
Cut it and use it as strings to tie gifts with.
Make a gift wrapper, if you wish, using the same process with a phonosheet.
©Copyright Yoko Ono 1964

I started trying to realise this piece in November 2010 but my tape machine got stuck in a lift overnight as I was moving it to get near a window. It didn’t snow again in the evening that winter. I had better luck the following winter where it snowed over a couple of days, and I was luckier with my tape machine that time. Although two private gifts have been given so far, this is the first public realisation of this piece.
After the final part of Telefun, we’ll have an interval, and after that…
Unlimited was written by Stockhausen in 1968 as part of the Aus den Sieben Tagen text pieces and was performed by the ensemble on various occasions. Separation from Mary Bauermeister triggered the crisis that was the backdrop for the composition of these text pieces. Questions of distributed creativity and the roles of interpretation and performance surrounding these text-based works contributed to the separation of Gehlhaar, Fritsch and Johnson from Stockhausen's ensemble to form the Feedback Studio in 1970. This piece can last for a very long time...
Sean Williams, April 2014

Simon Smith – synthesizer

Grey Area:
Nikki Moran - viola
Emma Lloyd - violin
Owen Green - bowed box
Armin Sturm - double bass
Shiori Usui - piano frame and voice
Sean Williams - synthesizer and sound projection

Viewing alternatives

Download history

Item Actions