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.
Performed by the Danish Notional Radio Symphony Orchestra
Available along with many of Nørgård's works on emusic
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In the last three years I've been rather preoccupied with the idea of writing two movement compositions. In reflection, I think this preoccupation started after I heard Denys Bouliane present an analysis of his work "Rumore Sui." What struck me the most about this piece at the time was the two-sidedness of the two movements -- how, although the two movements are constructed in a very simple near perfect symmetry, one perceives something much more complex in their relationships.
This preoccupation has led me to work on two compositions that each have two movements -- a work for clarinet or saxophone and electronics and a violin and cello duo. To date, I have only finished the first movement of each work. (The violin and cello duo was premiered at a jury recently at the University of California in San Diego and the clarinet/electronic piece will be premiered in a rough form on Tuesday.) Not finishing either of these works has bothered me quite a bit and in attempting finally finish the second movement of the clarinet or saxophone and electronics works I've begun to listen to a lot of my favorite two movement compositions.
One of my favorite two movement compositions is Per Nørgård's Symphony #4. Lately I have been listening to a lot of music Per Nørgård. This is in part because he has written a number of successful two movement piece such as the Third Symphony, "Voyage into the Golden Screen," "Remembering Child," and his Fourth Symphony.
Nørgård composed his Fourth Symphony soon after he became obsessed with the work of outsider artist Adolf Wölfli (1864 - 1930). As a result of this obsession Nørgård dedicates this work to Adolf Wölfli. This obsession with Wölfli is also seen in the compositional style of this symphony which includes an extreme drama not found in any of Nørgård's previous work. In fact, I often hear this symphony as a parody of the monumental high structuralism that is so present in his previous Symphony #3. That aside, this symphony also includes a personal emotionalism drawn from Nørgård's reflections on some of Wölfli's imagination. In my opinion this emotionalism is largely what imbues Nørgård's compositions written since the 80's with an expressiveness that I am greatly drawn towards.
Morton Feldman: String Quartet and Orchestra (1973) Performed by the Cleveland Quartet and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas conductor From the SUNY Buffalo Archives, not available commercially
Uaxuctum "The Legend of the Maya City which destroyed itself for religious reasons" (1966) I II III IV V For 4 vocal soloists, ondes martenot solo, mixed choir and orchestra Performed by the Polish Radio-Television Orchestra Of Krakow with Tristan Murail (ondes martenot)
Currently Out of Print
Konx-Om-Pax "Three aspects of sound: as the first motion of the immutable, as creative force, as the syllable 'om'" (1969) I II III For mixed choir and orchestra Performed by the Polish Radio-Television Orchestra Of Krakow
After finishing my last composition “Time Fixtures” and my masters’ thesis that explains some of the procedures that I used to write and construct “Time Fixtures” I had a little trouble finding a way to start writing music again. After a few months of deliberating and countless hours spent improvising at the piano I found a solution by constantly playing one note or chords derived from iteratively combining an intervals simple frequency components.
When I finally started to compose again with what I discovered while improvising at the piano I was reminded of the story Alex Ross told in his article from November 2005 about, how after composing incredibly complex pitch-based music, Giacinto Scelsi had a mental breakdown and recovered his sanity by sitting at a piano and spending many days on end playing one note. While starting my current composition projects I would occasionally joke to friends that I felt like Scelsi must have felt after his mental breakdown. However, in all seriousness I was really just beginning to think that there is a lot to explore or emote in music that concentrates more on other parameters such as timbre and rhythm than the succession or organization of pitches.
I’ve wanted to post something big for my 50th mp3 blog posting. When I discovered that two of my favorite CD collections (the complete works for chorus and orchestra and the complete string quartets of Scelsi) are inexplicably out of print I decided that the works listed above would make be appropriate for this post. I won’t explain much more about these pieces or Scelsi for that matter since one can find some good information online here and here. Also, since these are compositions that focus on a mysticism that largely defies words I think anything else I might say will only muddy the waters.
Despite the fact that lately many things have prevented me from listening to classical and contemporary music as much as I normally do, in the last few weeks I’ve randomly rediscovered this masterpiece by Danish composer Per Nørgård.
I first encountered Per Nørgård’s music when one of my colleagues presented it at one of the weekly composer’s colloquiums at the University of Arizona. What drew me the most to Nørgård’s music was his “infinity series” – a concept and algorithm based upon the golden ratio that could create an infinitely growing yet constantly related music.
For years, Nørgård’s “infinity series” remained a great mystery to me. In fact, I didn’t seek out recordings or scores of Per Nørgård’s music until a few years ago and it wasn’t until I found a link to this remarkable website on his music in a comment section on Kyle Gann’s blog over the summer that I began to learn how it ticked.
I’ll won’t explain the analytical and historical details of Nørgård’s Symphony #3 (a wonderful elucidation that is well worth your time can be found here); however, I would like to note a few things to hopefully whet your appetites. First off, this piece is one of the Per Nørgård’s veritable masterpieces from a period (the late 60’s through the mid 70’s) when he primarily used the “infinity series” to composer music. The “infinity series” operates similar to how fractals – where the microstructure and macrostructure relate by self-similarity and self-symmetry (a concept that can be used to explain many relationships in the universe). This Symphony (like Nørgård other works which use the “infinity series”) draws its harmonic material from the harmonic series. However, unlike somebody like Radulescu who treats the harmonic series as a sort of primordial sonic icon, Nørgård uses this harmonic material creates an engaging phenomenological drama that uses interrelated proportions and references to more recent western classical music.
I have spent the last two years intermittingly trying to understand the music and esthetic(s) of Luigi Nono. Two nights ago, after struggling some with my own piece Inner Music” and thinking about Andrei Tarkovsky’s subjective unplanned intuitive formal constructions I spent three hours listening to Luigi Nono and, I think, I finally begin to get it.
This is not a music I think I can explain and, furthermore, is not a music I care to explain, it is simply a music that requires a concentration on the temporal and dramatic flux or flow. Let the semantic sink back into the semiotic and just enjoy!
’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.
My first tribute to Ligeti was posted in a hurry and regrettably brief. Since Ligeti has played such a pivotal role in my compositional thought, I’ve decided to make up for my previous brevity with this post. After a lot of listening I’ve chosen a collection of mp3s that, in my humble opinion, make one kick ass Ligeti mix cd. Of course, if you don’t have own any recordings of Ligeti I recommend running out and buying The Ligeti Project I (which I instantly bought a second time after losing my first copy) and The Ligeti Edition 3: Works for Piano. If, on the other hand, you have already some Ligeti’s music go out and buy whatever else you can find because most of he wrote is worth hearing repeatedly.
The hardest part in arranging my tribute was deciding what to leave out. I desperately wanted to include Three Pieces for Two Pianos, the Piano Concerto, Book One of the Piano Etudes, Volumina for organ, the five octave Eb in the Chamber’s Concerto’s first movement, and – had I been able to find it – Glissandi. Regrettably, I also left out a few selections that just seemed too obvious like Lux Aeterna and the Requiem.
With three exceptions, I’ve decided to focus mostly on Ligeti’s late period. Although his middle period (late 50’s through mid 70’s) seems to the best known, thanks mostly to Kubrick’s fine musical taste, I really think that Ligeti’s best works come from the later period when rhythm became more of a central parameter.
Lontano (available on The Ligeti Project II) is my favorite orchestral work by Ligeti. I am always struck by the massive orchestral force and harmonic beauty in this piece. Continuum (available on The Ligeti Edition 5) is one of the best contemporary harpsichord works and one of the neglected little gems in Ligeti’s catalogue. The third movement of the Chamber Concerto (available on The Ligeti Project I ) echoes his Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes, signals a rhythmic focus that would predominate Ligeti’s later period, and is just one of the best damn three and a half minutes of music there is.
Ligeti’s Horn Trio (available on The Ligeti Edition 7) uses the same instrumentation as Brahm’s Horn Trio and is often considered the first piece in Ligeti’s late period. The melodic invention, rhythmic focus, and an almost romantic drama probably made this work seem strange to the Hamburg audience that was at the work’s premiere. Although this work sounds little like Ligeti ‘s earlier works, what distinguishes it has proven itself over time and will remain as a cornerstone of his ever-fruitful ouevre
Some other masterpieces from Ligeti’s late period are the Violin Concerto (available on The Ligeti Project III) and the Piano Etudes (available on The Ligeti Edition 3). The Piano Etudes are, in my humble opinion, the best piano works written in the last fifty year and the best collection of piano etudes since Chopin’s.
The last selection is taken from Ligeti’s wryly profound Hamburg Concerto (available on The Ligeti Project IV). The four obligatto horns recall the Epilogue in Grisey’s L’espace Acoustique and this movement’s final chord is truly an acoustic phenomena to behold.