Jacob David Sudol(b. Des Moines, Iowa 1980) writes intimate compositions that explore enigmatic phenomena and the inner nature of how we perceive sound. He recently finished his M.Mus. at McGill University and currently resides in La Jolla, CA where he is working towards a Ph.D. in composition at the University of California at San Diego with Roger Reynolds, Chinary Ung, Philippe Manoury, and Rand Steiger.
Over the last five years some of Jacob's mentors in composition have included John Rea, Denys Bouliane, Philippe Leroux, Sean Ferguson, Dan Asia, and Craig Walsh. He has also participated in master classes with Danish composer Bent Sørensen and German composer Manfred Stahnke.
During 2005-2006, Jacob was the first-ever composer-in-residence for the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble under the direction of Denys Bouliane, in collaboration with the McGill Digital Composition Studio. He has also written music for the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Contemporary Keyboard Society, percussionist Fernando Rocha, saxophonist Elizabeth Bunt, and clarinetist Krista Martynes. As an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, he composed the music for a collaborative dance project with choreographer Hillary Peterson, and he was the principal composer and pianist for El Proyecto de Santa Barbara, a chamber Latin jazz ensemble.
During the 2005 and 2007 Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques and 2006 MusiMars festivals Jacob was an electronic assistant for performances with Court-Circuit, Matt Haimovitz, Sara Laimon, Martin Matalon, Moritz Eggert, Manfred Stahnke, the Caput Ensemble, and the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble. These concerts were broadcast by the CBC and the European Broadcasting Union in over fifty countries throughout the world. He is currently a studio research assistant for Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Roger Reynolds.
During his free time Jacob takes an active interest in religious phenomenology, cinema, acoustics, literature, poetry, and visual art. As a composer and performer, he always attempts to bring insights from these other fields into his work.
All music posted on this blog is posted out of love and the idea that for the truly great music of our time(s) to be known it must first and foremost be heard. If you like what you hear please support the artist by buying the recordings, scores, and/or encouraging the performances of the music in every way possible.
If you are the composer, performer, performing organization, artist or directly represent the composer, performer, performing organization, or artist of anything posted on this website and would like your material removed please contact me and I will happily oblige.
On Monday I had the unique opportunity to hear Charlemagne Palestine perform the Cassavant Gallery Organ at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral in Montréal. For this concert (which was recorded for a possible future release) Charlemagne Palestine fittingly performed his improvised composition Schlingen Blängen: An ascension for Shirley Lipschitz 1912-2006 as a memorial for his recently deceased mother.
Charlemagne Palestine recorded an earlier version of Schlingen Blängen in 1979. ( The recording was recently reissued on compact disc. The original 70 minute recording comprises one depressed organ note undergoing slow and hypnotic timbral transformations. The effect is very similar to the much quicker timbral transformations featured in Ligeti’s organ work, Volumina.
Although similar in concept and technique to the original recording of Schlingen Blängen, Monday’s concert carried a greater emotional affect. At the beginning of the two hour performance, Charlemagne Palestine walked around the cathedral’s navel while singing and rubbing the rim of a brandy glass. Afterwards, he depressed one chord on the organ and slowly began to add notes and timbral richness. About an hour later the organ suddenly stopped in a deafening silence until a distant recapitulation of the beginning sounded from the back of the cathedral. Another prolonged organ crescendo followed. This time the timbres were thicker while the harmony included sliding and percussive clusters. The extended climax recalled the beginning of Volumina as every organ stop was opened and a complete cluster screamed off every wall in an impenetrable mixture of agony and joy. It was one of those musical moments that is impossible to record and, likewise, impossible to forget. Afterwards, the organ stops were slowly returned and the work ended with a silence more startling yet definitive than the about one an hour before.
To date, the memorial’s resonance seems greater than I can find the words express and I’m sure that Charlemagne Palestine’s mother and Ligeti appreciate it in their collective ascension.
Charlemagne Palestine: Strumming Music (recorded 1974) Improvised composition for piano
La Monte Young: The Well-Tuned Piano (1964-73-81-present) (excerpt from NYC 1987) Improvised composition for piano
I began my musical life at the piano. When I was really young, I typically improvised compositions more than I practiced music for lessons. I would depress the sustain pedal and repetitively play a few notes, chords, and melodic fragments while swimming in the resonance and thoughts about musical unfolding.
In the last few years, I’ve heard many composers describe the piano as a boring monochromatic and timbrally blank instrument. This opinion greatly offends me. Few instruments have a greater spectral complexity in each note than the piano. Furthermore, almost nothing in the acoustic world compares to the sound of piano strings sympathetically resonating. I chose this week’s mp3 selections to demonstrate this latter property – the magical resonance of the piano.
Charlemagne Palestine’s improvised work Strumming exemplifies the intense ritualistic musical experience at the center of early minimalist music. In the 1970’s, Charlemagne Palestine was infamous for performances similar to this one where he rapidly repeats a few notes with a depressed damper pedal to cajole rarely heard piano resonance. Often these performances would last for many hours and would end after his hands were bleeding.
The Well-Tuned Piano is considered by many to be La Monte Young’s masterpiece. This extended work (which in recent performances extends beyond six hours) features an ingenious tuning system which Kyle Gann cracked in 1991. One of my favorite features in this excerpt is how the repetitive clouds transform from percussive motivic centers to sound masses inhabited by fleeting phantasmagoric just-intoned intervallic melodies. The effect is breathtaking – one that I never imagined before and forever changed my way of hearing.