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.
Before I post a few more contemporary two-movement works I wanted to post a few older two-part and two-movement compositions.
The first two works not technically two-movement compositions. That said I feel that both are good examples of a work constructed in two parts. For example, the prelude and fugue is arguably one of the archetypal pairs that comprise a whole. I’ve chosen J. S. Bach’s b flat minor prelude and five-voice fugue from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 because it is possibly my favorite prelude and fugue.
Most of Chopin’s nocturnes were published in pairs and to this day are often performed in recitals that way. Opus 55 is probably my favorite of these pairs.
Beethoven struggled with the two-movement form periodically throughout all of his piano sonatas and arguably it wasn’t until the last try that he really got it right. While looking for two-movement compositions I noticed that the form is used far less regularly than three or four-movements. This might be because it is harder to balance multiple movements when there are only two of them. In my opinion it is this attempt at literal balance that makes most of Beethoven’s other two-movement sonatas less remarkable. On the other hand, it seems to be the misbalance between the normal-length tempestuous first movement and extended and almost transcendental second movement that makes Opus 111 so moving and unforgettable.
...I am constantly asking myself what right I have to withdraw into my quiet little house to compose and put the the finishing touches to musical material on exclusively musical criteria, attuning myself to finely nuanced moods and to ever more finely differentiated overtones, steeping myself in sounds and tonal structures, while all around me things are happening which are different in scale yet not in principle from what has been happening in, for example, Bosnia or Rwanda. The discrepancy between my sound-world and my despair over the realities of the world, over which I have no control, disturbs me deeply.
-Georg Friedrich Haas (from the notes to his opera "Night")
I apologize for my recent break in regular posts. For the last two weeks I have been providing computer-related support for four concerts in the 2007 Montréal/New Music. So, in between programming, organizing and preparing technical setups for rehearsals, and meeting with guest composers I’ve had little time to work on my own music yet alone update this blog. However, since I successfully finished my last obligation on Tuesday I now have time to catch up some with my writing and posting.
I’ve decided to return by posting a few really great pieces by a couple of fellow Montréal composers and friends Sean Ferguson (who is director of the McGill Digital Composition Studios) and Michel Gonneville. Both of these incredibly difficult pieces were also recorded by my friend Marc Couroux, who recently started a position teaching New Media at York University and – like another renounced piano virtuoso, David Tudor – doesn’t perform piano much anymore.
To me, both of these works seem to come at the ears from some sort of distant unknown enigmatic viscous bubbling world and draw you near with some unmistakable magnetic pull.
After hearing and reading a lot of Roger Reynold’s more recent works I first came to “Ping” expecting something similar to the post-dodecaphonic shattered hyper-structuralist esthetic that I had come to know in compositions like “Whispers Out of Time,” “Personae,” “Variations,” and “The Angel of Death.” However, the nearly perfectly prolonged bowed gongs in the beginning of “Ping” immediately signaled a different approach. Not to give away the surprises of what I’ve read to be improvised instrumental playing, but I think that the long approach to “Ping’s” horrifying and dramatic climax is one of my favourite stretches of time in Roger Reynold’s music. It’s kind of a shame that the work meanders for so long afterwards although I'm sure that piece loses a lot when missing its visual component.
Embarrassingly, it took me about four listens to realize that this Dumitrescu piece is for solo contrabass. Without reading the information beforehand I initially presumed that it was for an ensemble of at least two percussionists who bow gongs and two contrabasses. Now that I know this work is only for contrabass, I find it far more impressive. Also, since I’ve worked with a number of contrabass players and come to know how difficult it can be to write for this typically heavy and lugubrious instrument, I find the fact this work is alternatively so dramatic and contemplative to be quite a feat.
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 love piano. To display this, I’ve decided to create another post dedicated to the “magical resonance of the piano.” Last time, I chose ‘minimalist’ works that exaggerate and highlight the phenomenological brilliance of piano resonance. This time, I’ve chosen two works that are sculpted from the piano’s resonance and decay rather than the more conventional series of attack points.
“Territoires de L’oubli” is the grand pillar in Tristan Murail’s oeuvres for solo piano. Roughly translated as “Territories of the Lost,” the work uses a constantly depressed sustain pedal to show the various stages of a submerging minor ninth between B4 and C6. To emphasize this fluid motion, Murails models his seamlessly endless variety of materials on the periodic rise and fall of a sinuous wave.
“Palais de Mari” is one of the last works in Morton Feldman’sremarkable oeuvre. I am hesitant to write a lot about Morton Feldman’s music and aesthetic since so much has been written about him since the 80th anniversary of his birth. (For the curious, I would simply recommend the above link highlighting his name.) “Palais de Mari” holds a special place for me since it was the first Morton Feldman work I heard, the only one I knew for four years, and is often what I play before I go to sleep. Supposedly Bunita Marcus commissioned the work with the stipulation that Morton Feldman should try and compress everything that he was writing in his later style into a ‘short’ work. No matter how many times I have played and listened to this work, I still find new ways in which sumptuously fleeting internal links seem to decay and resonate from the page.
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.
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.