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"
Kaija Saariaho is arguably one of the most prolific and successful Post-Spectral composers. Like many of the other composers in this generation her music broadens the initial experiments into harmony/timbre the 1970’s by spectral composers like Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail with various structural and more traditional melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic techniques.
The three pieces in Kaija Saariaho’s “Jardin Secret” cycle are unified by an interest in combining harmony with timbre primarily by means of a unified technique of expansion and contraction. The esthetic approach in “Jardin Secret I” harkens back her earlier pivotal first work for computer “Vers le blanc” where she “sought to create the illusion of bodiless, eternal, and ‘unbreathing’ voice whose timbre changes continuosly…” In “Jardin Secret I” this approach is accomplished with sounds that are only created digitally.
In “Jardin Secret II” this approach is expanded with the concréte sounds of a harpsichord and her own breath. The focus then becomes the interaction that leads to a new hybrid instrumental harmony/timbre between the live harpsichord and the prerecorded tape.
“Nymphéa (Jardin Secret III)” is the last work in this cycle and you may also notice that it is yet another string quartet that I am posting. In this work the harmonic/timbral materials are mostly taken from a spectral analysis of a cello transitioning between “pitch” and “noise.” Formally Kaija Saariaho organizes this material following her model of a “timbral axis” that moves from purely deterministic pitch (such as in a sine wave) to the completely indeterministic white noise. This cohesive and well-thought out approach helps this work become arguably the most fully developed and sophisticated work in this fine trilogy.
...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")
Ah, the joy of chromatic chords being subsumed by harmonic spectra through the addition of virtual fundamentals to the former. Ah, the joy of overlapped ostinati and other rhythmic processes that, after twenty-some hearings, I still can’t discern. Ah, the joy of an electronic part that uses samples of detuned piano strings being clipped off. Ah, the joy I take in the irony that I post this piece after my confessional letter to the piano.
I’m an unabashed fan of the Magnus Lindberg works written through “Joy” that I know. Although he studied in Paris with Gérard Grisey in the late 70’s, Magnus Lindberg’s music has a cacophonous harsh relentless energy not typically found in works by the other Post-Spectral composers of his generation like Philippe Hurel, Marc-André Dalbavie, and Kaija Saariaho.
Compared to some of Magnus Lindberg’s earlier works like “Ur” and “Kraft,” “Joy” was Lindberg’s most ‘tonal’ work to date – so much so that after composing it he joked that this was as far as he would go in towards tonality for if his music became any more tonal he might as well be writing for Hollywood. Strangely enough, from what I’ve heard of Lindberg’s largely expanding orchestral oeuvre since “Joy” (e.g. “Aura,” “Engines,” the Cello Concerto, “Fresco,” “Cantigas,” “Parada,” “Feria,” and “Arena”), besides making a lot of money, he seems to have done exactly what he says he wouldn’t do. With exception of “Corrente,” I can’t say I particularly like the directions Lindberg has been taking with large ensemble writing.
All that aside, what a raucous joy it is to hear “Joy” and all its glorious digitally modified string clippings/tw-aannnng-g-g--gg--g-----g--g---g-ggs.
During the last school year I had the wonderful opportunity to take a seminar and private lessons with Philippe Leroux. . Although not well known in the U.S.A (apparently amazon.com does not even carry his music), Philippe Leroux is one of the most significant contemporary French composers. Unlike many his other colleagues from the post-spectral generation who often use almost predictable structural and formal techniques, Philippe’s music always defies expectations while exuding his wry and clever sense of humour.
Within only a few years, Voi(Rex) has already become one of the formidable masterpieces in its genre. When composing the work at IRCAM, Philippe Leroux participated in a study documenting his compositional process. For this process he used custom patches in OpenMusic, kept a compositional diary, and was psychoanalyzed (sic) about the composition development. Some of the results of this study, in French, can be found online (here's a partial formal description and an analytical description) and in a new DVD-Rom.
In the past year and a half I have seen Philippe Leroux give a few talks on Voi(Rex)’s compositional process and have even had a chance to discuss some of the confusing issues with him personally. The most significant concept for Voi(Rex) is the idea of a model. To compose the work Philippe Leroux first modeled the sound of the soprano singing alone and into a tam-tam with spectral analysis and selected the work’s 26 chords. Some other models included his previous compositions, the poem itself, various electro-acoustic techniques (e.g. frequency shifting, delay, time stretching, doppler), and the shape of the alphabet’s 26 letters. The latter technique, although used throughout the work, is used most transparently in the second movement where the poem’s letters spell out the music in gesture and orchestration.
I’m not fond of musical play-by-play descriptions, so I’ll just give a few heads up for listening. In the introduction, I’m particularly fond of how the voice seamlessly moves between the acoustic to electronic environments. The second movement is hilarious, particularly when you can see the letters, periods, commas, and even breath marks being spelled out. The third movement contains a glorious phantom ensemble and a beautifully subtle ocean wave at the end. As for the final movement, all I can say is to be prepared for the unexpectable as well as it is a shame to miss out on the surround sound movement and on watching the singing spell out the spatialization with a pencil.
Philippe Leroux biggest composition to date, Apocolypsis for four voices, 15 instruments, and electronics premieres today in Paris alongside Voi(Rex) as part of the IRCAM Agora. Apocolypsis is based upon same concept as Voi(Rex), except the model is the composing of Voi(Rex). In his seminar in January he showed some sketches, tools, and the current state of Apocolypsis. He claims that this work searches too far into in his method and simply far too much effort. In the future he will keep his compositions much simpler. The concert by Bit20 Ensemble, which features both works, will be broadcast in the future on Radio France. When I find the date and time I’ll post it so the curious can listen.