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Until Spring by Morton Subotnick

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    I have always thought of my work with electronic sounds and tape recorders as "sculpting" with sound in time and space. But in UNTIL SPRING the process has begun to define itself more characteristically than in any of my previous works. This is partly due to my continued efforts and growth and partly to the fact that in recent years I have begun again to compose orchestral music, which has given me greater perspective on my feelings about the difference between composing a work to be performed by others and composing for a tape recorder.

    Sculpting with sound placing sound into on imaginary "space canvas" in front of me .. molding the color of a sound ... transforming the harmonic content . to begin to shape it like the beginnings of some strange visceral language .. . shaping the sounds into contours of pitch . bending pulsating points along on imaginary time line ... increasing and decreasing their occurrences. like elastic bands stretching to their limits and either gently brought back to their original form or let go to snap into a chaotic pattern like a balloon full of air suddenly released.

    In making UNTIL SPRING, the sculpting process itself was like an emergent moment prolonged and stretched to a period of a few months. The sculptured object, the record, is like time magnified—opened up—to a 30' exploration of a micro-minute.

    The materials for the record were worked out both on paper and directly on the synthesizer and then documented in the form of patches and sound "gestures" or "shapes." The basic materials were then expanded modified and idealized into an imaginary "mind's ear" experience that was committed to a symbolic sketch or "overview" diagram."' The materials for UNTIL SPRING were now ready to be "realized" or sculpted on tape.

    The recording procedure remained to be worked out. For this, a scoring technique was created to correspond to the use I was to make of the tape recorder. This was necessary to facilitate the technical problems in giving me freedom to "sculpt."

    The general idea was to provide o way to place a complete stereo gesture on two of the eight tracks in order to:

    1. have the ability to add any number of sounds to the texture without rerecording the original.
    2. be able to replace any event without either re-recording or erasing.
    3. correct any event to any other event or to synchronize any sound to any other sound, after one event has already been recorded.

    If these could be done with ease, the problem of sculpting. molding. and changing and adding could be realized.

    To facilitate the process I used two tracks as "control" tracks. These tracks contained the following information:

    1. at what precise moment did an event begin
    2. when did it stop
    3. if pulsed, at what rote
    4. what voltage did it take to produce-
    - pitches
    - position in space
    - duration
    - etc.

    Not all the Information was present all the time - only that which seemed likely or oven possible to be needed at a later time. The synthesizer was programmed (patched) to provide most of the information automatically. The two tracks were used alternately so that if a new event was super-imposed over on existing event, the two controls were able to coexist. The result was that when a gesture was performed, the controls were recorded—but not the gesture itself. This enabled me to sit back and listen, making alterations and decisions before committing the event to tape. In some cases it was even possible to leave the controls without the event and come back to it later — the controls being permanently recorded (memorized) and available to duplicate the gesture at any time -but still leaving the end result open to modification until it sounded right to me. By this general procedure, the sculpting process was allowed to take place.

    • • •

    Some thoughts on UNTIL SPRING. UNTIL SPRING is the fourth work in my "Butterfly" series. It represents a more subjective use of the metaphor than any of the first three—and while the earlier works relied on the metaphor to provide the structural as well as subject material, UNTIL SPRING deals with but a single point of time within the transformation process. This is the point or moment of emergence. The "emergent moment" itself is taken as a metaphor and acts as a generating concept for the entire work.

    UNTIL SPRING deals with three gestural qualities...
    ... thrusting out
    ... becoming
    ... being thrusting out
    an upward glissando rising (emerging] out of a plucked-like note—
    gradual increase of pulse rates—
    increase in loudness—
    an emergence from one point in space to another—
    the growth of a sound (Increase of harmonic content)
    "mini compositions:' like the final section of Side 1, which suggest a kind of concrete reality of music - a transitional music between the thrusting gestures and the pulsing music of the end being regularly pulsed material that occurs at several points in the work and culminates in the pulsed triad at the end of Side 2
    The title evokes for me ...
    UNTIL as the micro-moment before: the tension releasing to become-
    SPRING as the butterfly of the seasons ...
    Track Listings:
    Side A

    Beginning 14:59

    Side B

    Conclusion 14:20
    Total Time: 29:19
    Artist Name(s):
    Morton Subotnick
    Morton Subotnick
    Release Year: 1976
    Album Type:
    LP 33 1/3
    Cover & Packge Design:
    Henrietta Condak, Cliff Condak
    Engineer(s): Morton Subotnick
    Label / Publishing
    Label Name:
    Catalog Number(s):
    Y 34158
    New York City, NY USA
    Columbia Records
    Synthesizers Used
    Album Locator
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