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.
"Rumore sui” is the second in Denys Bouliane’s new trilogy of chamber works (the first being the previously posted ”Qualia sui" (2001-02) for piano trio and the final being “Tremore sui” for violin and piano (2004-)). The thematic linking in these works derives itself from the Latin word “sui” which means “of oneself." As the trilogy progresses a there is a progression towards a deeper level of introspective probing.
The two movements in "Rumore sui" are essentially two views on the same musical material -- the first movement an extroverted view and the second an introverted view. The second movement of this work with its early culminating vortex and the following hypnotic shattered modal faux-music-box is quite possibly my favorite of all of Denys's works.
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.
(Note that all files are in m4a format, download the files first before playing them)
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For the last of this my five-part string quartet series (and my 100th blog post) I’ve decided to post more string quartets at once than I ever have before.
Following the work’s epigram “written In tempore belli” (in time of war) “Black Angels” is one of George Crumb’s most mystical and emotionally affecting works. To evoke the subtitle ““Thirteen Images from the Dark Land” the work requires a plethora of other-wordly extra-instrumental techniques and that the performers of the quartet also sing and each perform a number of percussion instruments including a glass harmonic (the sound of which it has been rumored to cause insanity). In our current era of extended and seemingly endless bloody conflicts this is still a very necessary work that still resonates strong.
Roger Reynold’s “Ariadne’s Thread” refers to the Greek legend of Ariadne and a method of problem solving called Ariadne’s Thread. In this work the string quartet weaves darkly with electronic sounds to create an environment and narrative that is both eerie and haunting.
“Tetras” represents a culmination of many Xenakis’s compositional techniques and successful virtuosic writing for string quartet. For many years I admittedly had a lot of trouble dealing with and understanding Xenakis’s music. The first piece that I began to actually appreciate was “Jalons” particularly because of one moment with a kaleidoscopic view on a synthetic scale. A few years later I heard “Tetras” and it became the first Xenakis piece that I really enjoyed.
With moments of strong tonality and an aching third movement that sounds as though it were lifted from a long lost late-Beethoven string quartet, George Rochberg’s third string quartet caused a large amount of controversy after its premiere. Early in his career George Rochberg was one of the strongest and finest proponents of serial music in the U.S.A. until his son died in 1963 and after an esthetic crisis he found that tonality was the only way that he could write that accurately expressed his grief. In my opinion, this quartet (along with the other three in the series of Concord Quartet) stands as the culmination of this emotional development in this later phase of George Rochberg’s music.
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
Conlon Nancarrow String Quartet #3 (1987( I II III Performed by the Arditti String Quartet Currently out of print
(Note the Nancarrow quartet is in m4a format, download the files first before playing them)
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Between threedifferentposts I’ve posted more music by Ligeti than any other composer. Since this particular post is in the middle of a series where I am post even more of a medium that I’ve posted the most of it only seems natural to me to post even more of the composer I’ve posted the most music from.
When people discuss Ligeti usually they focus in on his music written during or after the sixties. Little attention is often paid to the music written before then in what is often called his “early period.” In my opinion Ligeti’s first string quartet – which was written for his drawer since its contemporary approaches were banned by the Communist Hungary government of the time – is the one real masterpiece from this period in his compositional development. The style strongly recalls the Bela Bartok’s later quartets, particularly the third and fourth particularly in its rhythmic and visceral explorations focus on the difference between major and minor seconds. However, this quartet looks much farther than Bartok’s ever did and also show the first real signs of the micropolyphonic and rhythmic esthetic that came to mark Ligeti’s finest works.
It's hard to dismiss the influence Conlon Nancarrow played on the later works of Ligeti. I could easily compare a few Ligeti pieces to the Nancarrow player piano studies that preceded them to make this point but that’s a topic for another post.
(note all tracks are encoded as m4a, download the files first to play them)
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In contrast to “Riegen seliger Geister” where Helmut Lachenmann attempts to subvert almost all standard conceptions of pitch, sound, and playing in the string quartet these two string quartets represent a slightly more conventional, yet forward-looking approach to this ensemble.
I remember being quite amused when I first became quite interested in the music of the second Vienese school and discovered that while their complete solo piano music could easily fit on one C.D. their complete string quartets required at least four C.D.s. This String Quartet by Anton Webern is one of my favorite of the string quartets by the composers in the second Vienese school (second only to Alban Berg’s “Lyric Suite”) as well as one of my favorite works by Webern.
Over a decade ago Bela Bartok’s music served as my first real gateway into appreciating music from the Twentieth century and beyond. His fourth string quartet has since become my favorite Bartok composition. I first became enthralled with his string quartet (which I consider his strongest works) just before starting my own quartet. I also consider the two concerts where I saw the Emerson Quartet perform the complete Bartok string quartets in Aspen Colorado as one of the most defining moments in my musical development.
This tendency in my Mp3 blog posts reflects my love for the string quartet medium. To further celebrate this love I’ve decided that in the next seven days I’m going to post eleven different string quartets from the last century. To start this week I’m posting here the eleventh complete string quartet I've posted on my blog and also the only other string quartet by Helmut Lachenmann that I hadn't posted until now – “Riegen seliger Geister.” Enjoy!
Since the two performances of “Inner Music” I have been discovering a lot of new music and, although I now have a much larger collection of music that I want to post, I almost feel at a loss of words to accompany them.
That aside, one of the more exciting composers that I’ve recently discovered is the Italian composer Fausto Romitelli. I haven’t been able to find too much about him (besides the link I've included over his name) but mostly the music speaks for itself. Most of Romitelli's works are infused with a high level of energy and an almost psychedelic absorption in sound that at times resembles some of the more visceral moments in Grisey’s compositions. Although I’m not as fond of some of his explorations with literally infusing elements of electronic popular music in pieces like “Professor Bad Trip” and his video opera “An Index of Metals” I do think that in most of his compositions he captures a visceral timbral energy usually only found in popular music, but in a way which is very original and personal. It is really a shame that he recently died in 2004 at the very young age of 41. Hopefully we’ll soon see many more recordings and releases from his remarkable oeuvre.
...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’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.
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.
It appears as though I have just taken the longest break in writing entries since I started posting mp3 blogs in late May. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing a long lecture on “Time Fixtures” that I gave on Tuesday, figuring out what is needed for my doctoral applications, and resuming work on two compositional projects. I used to think that I could easily concentrate on many different things at time but, as my recent absence seems to indicate, that may not be the case.
Excuses aside, I’ve decided that I to need resume posting entries regularly and, to signify this, I might as well start off with a bit of a bang.
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Romanian composer Horatio Radulescu is considered by some to be the first Spectral composer. Despite this distinction Radulescu’s music differs greatly from the early explorations of his French counterparts such as Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail. Where the latter largely used techniques such as temperment quantization (i.e. quarter-tones, sixth-tones, and eighth-tones), “instrumental synthesis,” and “frequency harmonies,” Radulescu’s music concentrates on what he considers to be the ultimate sonic archetype – the harmonic spectrum.
Performed by the Arditti String Quartet (currently out of print)
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For the last few days I decided not to listen to any music. I’m sure that to many, this may not seem all that unusual but, as I’ve said before, I typically listen to multiple hours of music each day and, as I haven’t said before, I often rely upon it to fulfill some sort of intangible emotion function.
I could say that this personal trial because I want to see what my thoughts and emotions bring or don’t bring in silence but, honestly, this has been more about seeing what happens if, even for the slightest period of time, I can’t rely upon music as I have seemingly have needed to before.
To compliment this I have (however ironically it may seem) chosen to post a piece of music that Wolfgang Rihm wrote when he was merely 24, a work that follows what has become a predominant German post-war artistic esthetic – approaching silence. Enjoy listening to it in the moment and, possibly even more so, afterwards.
I was only going to post once today but - by goly - it's Steve Reich's 70th birthday and I've just got to post my favorite movement from my favorite Steve Reich piece (that is besides "Music for 18 Musicians" which should never be broken up).
I'm not going to make any broad universal claims like "Steve Reich is the greatest living composer...;" however, I will say that Steve Reich is my favorite living American composer and my favorite of all the so-called "minimalist" (or whatever you want to call the music what has followed) composers, not just because I love repeatedly listening to his music, but because unlike the many others he has made a number of large compositional transformations and developments over the years.
Happy 70th Steve Reich! I wish you many more years, many more great compositions, and maybe even some more great transformations.
John Rea is one of the better living Canadian composers and also one of the more enigmatic. Since he has been my mentor for the last few years, most of our meetings have more resembled philosophical discussions revolving around esthetics and doubt rather than more composition lessons.
For this entry, I’m going to forego any biographical descriptions and just refer an article my friend Marc Couroux wrote a number of years ago about John Rea, called ”The Madness of King John.”
“Objets Perdus” was commissioned by the Arditti Quartet and won the Prix Jules-Léger (possibly the highest honour for a new chamber music composition in Canada) in 1992. Absurdly, although it has been performed by other string quartets such as Montréal’s Quatuor Bozzini, it has never been commercially released.
Since John Rea is quite the wordsmith, I’ve also decided to forego any other commentary on this work and let his program note speak of the work’s enigmas on its own.
“’Recognizing a common object consists above all in knowing how to make use of it.’ -Bergson
‘Each object is the mirror of all the others’ -Merleau-Ponty
‘It is in entering the object that one enters into one’s very own skin’ -Matisse
‘I look at what I am losing And do not see what remains. -Molière
‘Music, not being made of objects nor referring to objects, is intangible and ineffable; it can only be…inhaled by the spirit: the rest is silence.’ -Jacques Barzun
Objets perdus (lost objects), dispersed among twelve progressively expanding movements (the first being very short in duration), evolve over time as musical materials disappear along the way; one may certainly consider what one is losing, but one should also listen for what remains.”