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.
Georg Friedrich Haas: "Blumenstück" (2000) For choir, bass tuba, and string quartet Performed by Tom Walsh on tuba, the Quintett Rigas Kamermuziki, and the Latvian Radio Choir, Wolfgang Praxmarer conductor
Not available commercially
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"Down with liberty!"
-Spanish rebel before just execution and student rioters at a zoo in Luis Buñuel's "Le Fantôme de Liberté"
A few summers ago my friend Bryan first came up with the idea of writing a piece that used extreme vocal nonverbal emotive gestures such as crying, screaming, and panicked breathing. We talked about the idea quite a bit initially but it wasn’t until last winter that he set out to finally try the idea. When he first proposed a similar idea for a seminar we were both taking with Philippe Leroux his idea was to use vocal samples, possibly from one character in a foreign film, and cross-synthesize them with an acoustic instrument such as an oboe.
It didn’t take too long before this proposed idea was abandoned in favor of sampling extreme emotive vocal sounds from a number of movies by Lars Von Trier, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Ingmar Bergman. Following extensive cataloguing, studying, and a test montaging these samples it became clear that the idea of cross-synthesizing this material with an acoustic instrument would probably not work. Despite this, he found a number of ways to bring out the more pitch and harmony-based elements from this material and create an acousmatic piece with these movie samples that, although it lacked any conventional acoustic instrument, used elements such as filtered noise and ring modulation to focus the listener’s ears on the harmony and more conventional musical elements in extreme vocal nonverbal emotive gestures.
This piece has ended up being quite successful and, although I think it a bit too clean and didactic compared to Bryan’s initial esthetic goal, it has been since selected for playback in a number of festivals.
Since then he wrote another piece using the same materials for a large chamber ensemble and is also currently finishing a piece with the same materials for the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble with the assistance of the McGill Digital Composition Studio but I think that, so far, the most successful of his pieces to use these samples is “Into Callous Hands” which was commissioned for the 7th Biennial International Competition “Concours Luc Ferrari” competition in France.
Unlike the Byran’s other pieces exploring this esthetic the music in “Into Callous Hands” entirely focuses from these extreme vocal nonverbal emotive gestures. The difficult to relate instruments, pitches, as well as the harmonic and didactic qualities of his other tape piece are missing in this piece. All that remains is the voice and its utmost intimate and dirty dramatic extremities with an engaging formal construction that draws the listener into what really constitutes these sounds. It may not be emotionally easy music but it is definitely worth hearing.
I’m not sure I know what Helmut Lachenmann meant when he titled this string quartet “Grido;” however, listening to this work I am reminded of Michaelango Antonioni’s 1957 Neo-Realist masterpiece “Il Grido” (“The Outcry”).
In this movie a mother married to a man who hasn’t lived in the village for years one day suddenly tells her lover that her husband has died and she now cannot continue their relationship. The man is distraught and futilely begs her to reconsider. Right after these failed attempts the man decides to leave town unsure whether he is running from his pain or seeking some new start and form of consolation. While traveling the man meets and stays with a few women – each beautiful and beautifully lonely – who fall or have fallen for him and display their willingness to devote themselves as fully to him as he was devoted to his lover.
In the end when the man returns to the town he left crestfallen the village’s workers have begun to riot. The workers’ seemingly superficial social outcry reflects his unbearable personal outcry. In the final scene, minutes after returning to the town, the man returns to the location of his old job which all of his coworkers refuse to work. His former lover finds out he has returned and runs after him. When she finally desperately reaches him it is to late and the movie ends. His outcry is transformed into her silence.
On writing "The Decalogue" with Krzysztof Piesiewicz:
We didn't want to adopt the tone of those who praise or condemn, handing out a reward here for the doing of Good and a punishment there for the doing of Evil. Rather, we wished to say: 'We know no more than you. But maybe it is worth investigating the unknown, if only because the very feeling of not knowing is a painful one.'
Obvious meta-ironic philosophizing aside, I wanted to step in on this post to return to some things I left out of my more recent post...
Last summer I discovered that the McGill library has a fantastic collection of DVDs available to students for free three-day checkout. Ever since then I’ve been in veritable (mostly) foreign art-house film heaven watching great works by directors such as Bergman, Kiarostami, Fellini, Rossellini, Antonioni, Pasolini, Kurosawa, Ozu, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Scoresese, Godard, Buñuel, Almodovar, Kieslowski, Wajda, Dovzhenko, Forman, Polanski, Eisenstein, Von Trier, Herzog, and Fassbinder a few nights a week. Last autumn, on a particularly patient night I watched Tarkovsky’s “Solaris.” It haunted me like few films had and even made me reconsider what I had long considered as perfection in Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odysessy.”
John Rea and another friend later recommended Tarkovsky’s “The Passion According to Andrei” (or “Andrei Rublev”), which I had to watch over two days to emotionally handle. Over winter his other films “The Mirror,” “Nostalghia,” and especially “Offret Sacrifacatio” left strong impressions on me. Later Tarkovsky’s book “Sculpting in Time” significantly shaped my esthetic stance in a way that only Joyce’s “Portrait of an Artist as Young Man” can directly match.
As for Claude Vivier, to learn more about his music I highly recommend seeking out recordings of all his later (post-1978) works. The Canadian Music Centre is a good place to look for these. I’d also recommend the DVD “Reves d’un Marco Polo” which features a documentary and an extended concert of Vivier’s music featuring the Schoenberg and ASKO Ensembles. The documentary, although insultingly Euro-centric, provides a shattering view on Vivier’s tragic life. The concert features great performances of some of Vivier’s most significant works such as his opera “Kopernikus (A Ritual Opera of Death)” and the only recording I’ve found of “Crois-tu en l’immortalité de l’âme?” The DVD also has subtitles so you can understand the French and language fragments if you, like me, can’t fully comprehend French. If you read French the excellent Montréal-based contemporary music journal “Circuit” has published an issue which features Claude Vivier’s complete writings and tributes by the likes of Ligeti and others that is well worth a good read.
If you want hear some music, here's the last track from the Café Spies album I produced and performed most of – “Less is More (Parts 1-3).” This track was recorded sans plan in one take as I watched the four-track’s tape run out. Agent N8-10 speaks and I play and process all the instruments and sounds on this most note-y track from a very note-y album. Oh yeah, I’m also ripping off some of the two-keyboard stuff I did on this track for “Inner Music.”
The cinema, she is a whore. First she charge a nickel, now she charge five dollars. When she learns to give it away, she will be free!
-Andrei Tarkovsky, Telluride Medal acceptance speech for “Nostalghia”
Time is a condition for the existence of our ‘I.’ It is like a kind of culture medium that is destroyed when it is no longer needed, once the links are severed between the individual personality and the conditions of existence…
Time and memory merge into each other; they are like two sides of a medal. It is obvious that without Time, memory cannot exist either. But memory is something so complex that no list of all its attributes could define the totality of the impression through which it affects us. Memory is a spiritual concept!...
However, the past – mercifully – cannot be brought back; individual self-awareness and the status of personal views on life are becoming more important…
A work becomes dated as a result of the conscious effort to be expressive and contemporary; these are not things to be achieved: they have to be in you.
In those arts which count their existence in tens of centuries the artist sees himself, naturally and without questrion, as more than narrator or interpreter: above all he/she is an individual who has decided to formulate for others, with complete sincerity, his truth about the world...
I see it as my duty to stimulate reflection on what is esentially human and eternal in each individual soul, and which all too often a person will pass by, even though fate lies in his/her hands. One is too busy chasing after phantoms and bowing down to idols. In the end everything can be reduced to one simple element which is all a person can count upon in his/her existence; the capacity to love. That element can grow within the soul to become the supreme factor which determins the meaning of a person's life. My function is to make whoever sees my films oh his/her need to love and to give his/her need to give love, and aware that beauty is summoning.
…I want to create my own world on the screen, in its ideal and most perfect form, as I myself feel it and see it. I am not trying to be coy with my audience, or to conceal some secret intention of my own: I am recreating my world in those details which seem to me most fully and exactly to express the elusive meaning of our existence…
“Nostalghia” is now behind me. It could never have occurred to me when I started shooting that my own, all too specific, nostalgia was soon to take possession of my soul forever.
’I want to know – do you yourself believe in God or don’t you’ Nikolai Vsevolodovich looked at him sternly.
‘I believe in Russia and Russian Orthodoxy … I believe in the body of Christ … I believe that the Second Coming will be in Russia ... I believe …’ Shatov began to splutter in desperation.
‘And in God? In God?’
‘I … I shall believe in God!’
-Fyodor Dostievsky, “The Possessed”
By means of art man takes over reality through a subjective experience…
A masterpiece is a space closed in upon itself… Beauty is in the balance of the parts. And the paradox is that the more perfect the work, the more clearly does one feel the absence of any associations generated by it. The perfect is unique. Or perhaps it is able to generate an infinite number of associations – which ultimately means the same thing…
The fate of the genius in the system of human knowledge is amazing and instructive. These sufferers…, doomed to destroy in the name of movement and reconstruction, find themselves in a paradoxical state of unstable equilibrium between longing for happiness and the conviction that happiness, as a feasible reality or state, does not exist… Real happiness, happy happiness, consists, as we know, in the aspiration towards that happiness which cannot but be absolute: that absolute after which we thirst…
It is natural, therefore, that not even specialist critics have the delicacy of touch required to dissect for analysis the idea of a work and its poetic imagery. For an idea does not exist in art except in the images which give it form, and the image exists as a kind of grasping of reality by the will, which the artist undertakes according to his own inclinations and idiosyncrasies of his worldview…
Clearly the hardest thing for the working artist is to create his own conception and follow it, unafraid of the strictures t imposes, however rigid these may be…I see it as the clearest evidence of genius when an artist follows his conception, his idea, his principle, so unswervingly that he has this truth of his constantly in his control, never letting go of it even for the sake of his own enjoyment of his work.
And so the discovery of a method becomes the discovery of someone who has acquired the gift of speech. And at that point we may speak of the birth of an image; that is, of a revelation.