A Biography Of Mortan Subotnick Essay Research

A Biography Of Mortan Subotnick Essay, Research Paper

ELECTRONIC MUSIC COMPOSER:Morton SubotnickMorton Subotnick, a leader in the field of electronic music, was born on April 14, 1933 in Los Angeles, California. Morton musical interest began at the age of seven while suffering from bronchitis. Morton’s family doctor suggested that he play a wind instrument to help with the recovery process. Morton chose the clarinet and was playing concertos at the tender age of ten, and by the age of twelve he was already composing his own music. Morton received a BA from the University of Denver and he also earned his MA from Mills College while studying composition under Leon Kirchner and Darius Milhaud. Subotnick’s first experiments with electronic music was taking the magnetic tape of recorded music and splicing them together. He would rearrange the tape backward, forward, and in loops, creating a variety of different sounds. In 1967 Subotnick’s work “Silver Apples of the Moon” was the first electronic piece commissioned by a record company. This not only made the home theatre system a medium for chamber music but it gave Subotnick a spot in the history of electronic music. This work took advantage of the Buchla Synthesizer, which was a keypad that Subotnick had helped to design and develop. Popular dance companies worldwide have choreographed this work along with a few other of Subotnick’s works. Another major part of Subotnick’s musical history is his invention dealing with real-time processing of sound in live performance situations. Subotnick invented what he called a “ghost box.” This box is made up of a pitch and envelope follower, and an amplifier, frequency shifter, and ring modulator that control the voltage of the sound. These control voltages were stored on tape and would be used in a performance by being played while sending the live music to the box thus creating real-time music. He referred to this sound alteration as a “ghost score” since neither the tape or the box itself contained any written music. The musician and the ghost score would have to work together to perform the exact music at the exact time. “Two Life Histories” composed in 1977 was the first performance to use the electronic ghost score. For the next six years Subotnick concentrated solely on works pertaining to live performances and ghost scores. Other famous works composed primarily for the ghost score include “Liquid Strata” (piano), “The Wild Beasts” (trombone, cello, and piano), and “The Fluttering of Wings” (string quartet). In 1981 Subotnick’s work “Ascent into Air” made for use with the 4C Computer and live performances, it used more advanced techniques to manipulate sound including a quadraphonic placement of the instrumentalists that modified the timbres of the live instruments.

Subotnick has also composed many other types of music that include eight works for orchestra, chamber music, and music for the theatre and multi-media productions.Subotnick’s more recent work involves computerized sound generation, specially designed software and “intelligent” computer controls which allow the performing musicians to inter act in a complex and musical way with the computer. Presently Morton Subotnick is leading the Composition program and the Center for Experiments in Art, Information and Technology (CEAIT) at the California Institute of the Arts. He also tours around the U.S. and Europe both lecturing and performing for others.BIBLIOGRAPHYWebsites “Morton Subotnick” (http ://arts.ucsc.edu/EMS/Music/music/landmarks/subotnick.html). Downloaded November 17, 1998. Mabee, Stephanie. “Musical Explorer” ASU Research Magazine, Fall/Winter 1995.(http://toad.asu .edu/rschmag/textonly/to101mus.html). Downloaded November 17, 1998. “Morton Subotnick” European American Music Distributors Corporation (http://www.eamdc.com). Downloaded November 17, 1998.


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