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.
When the Carter Family sings, their achingly beautiful songs seem to contain endless human cries from endless origins. Here we find human cries ranging from an anonymous and threatening command from further down the line, the driver’s steadfast and reckless cry of love for the engine 143, the doctor’s cry for the driver’s quick death, his mother cry that he use caution, and – only when we see from the blood on the tracks and his eyes scalded shut – is there the final or ultimate cry to return to God.
I don’t know if R.E.M. meant to reference “Engine 143,” or some of its many similar variations like “The Wreck of Old ’97,” but I find the link undeniable. Here we are immersed in the setting and can feel the cry of the engine, the cry of the tracks, the cry of the country, the cry of the destination, the cry of determination, the cry of exhaustion, the cry of ultimate human longing, and the lingering cry of weary persistence. However, unlike in the Carter Family’s song, here there is no narrative arch; here we find ourselves suspended in this state and – besides in our minds – forever removed from the destination.
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’ve never really understood Postmodernism and, although I’ve spent some time researching and learning on the subject, I don’t really care to. It may be that living in Montréal (supposedly one of the most Postmodern cities) that the little bit of a punk in me feels the need to rebel and express my own independent identity. On the other hand, I simply cannot agree with how I understand that Postmodernism dismisses grand theories and ideologies to favor of viewing one solely as a culmination of external influences. Although I am by nature skeptical, I believe that art and expression speak to and come from something far greater and more objective and universal than that which Postmodern proposes.
I’ve often found that I agree far more with Modernist philosophies; however, I obviously cannot agree with the “Zero Hour” European Post-WWII ideology that produced some of Boulez’s, Stockhausen’s, and others’ failed experiments. For me there is simply something exciting and effervescent in an artwork that seeks to create an eternally new object. Of course – as Postmodernism claims – art is bound to one’s own influences, but to primarily focus on this or deny art’s fundamental power try and find the means to supersede these mundane concerns seems, to me, a grave error.
To finally come around to the featured composer and mp3 of this entry, although this may be a slightly flawed view, I’ve always seen Luciano Berio as the first and most important Postmodern composer. Despite this, or possibly in spite of this, I’ve always wanted to love Berio’s music. For example, I’ve tried so hard to really appreciate and enjoy “Circles,” “Coro,” “Oh King,” “Recital for Cathy,” the Chemins and Corale, “Points on a Curve to Find,” “A Ronne,” the Sequenzas but – after dozens of listens – I find that Sequenza 21 is the only one that I regularly go back to. Currently, besides “Folk Songs” (which I have studied intensely and always love to listen to) the only pieces of Berio that I still like (albeit, mostly on a Platonic level) are “Sinfonia” (only for the ground-breaking “sampling” in the third movement), “Thema (Ommagio for Joyce)” (particularly for the Bloo-bloo-bloo-bloom-bloom-oom-oom-ooming-ing-ing and how the words finally drown in sound), and the ever-disturbing “Visage.”
The Montréal composer Justin Mariner brought up a good argument once about Berio –the reason his music may seem to “remain new” (or have aged that well) is possibly because he has had so many imitators and – while his music may have sounded revolutionary at one time – the ever-expanding line (and this is my mildly naïve addition to the argument) of "Postmodern composers" like Osvaldo Golijov, Louis Andriessen, Gorecki, John Adams, and even John Zorn have only weakened Berio’s initial impact.
Despite this, I continually turn back to “Visage.” Although this work seems to take a Postmodernism approach by seeming to focus on the language’s historical development, there is some almost primordial in the drama and emotions that the work conjures up. Truthfully I’ve only listened to “Visage” twice, but each listening is firmly etched in my memory. I’m not much an expert in criticism, but if that doesn’t speak of a work’s power I don’t know what does.