Excerpts from the Music of Stephen Travis Pope  

I intend this music for rituals, or prayer, or meditation, or to animate imaginary spaces, rather than as "absolute" concert music. Music that is removed from a concrete and relevant social context has no life or spirit. Music is the sound of faith.

As to why I made this, I can only paraphrase Joseph Campbell, "Just as anyone who listens to the Muse will hear, you can work out of your own intention, or out of inspiration; yes, inspiration, there is such a thing; it comes up and talks to you. Those who have heard the rhythms and hymns of the angels, who have heard the words of the angels, will try to recite these hymns in such a way that the angels will be attracted."

These pieces stem from over 24 years work in studios in several countries using a wide range of compositional and production techniques, and different moods and modes of expression. Headphones are recommended.

Note that all of this music is available on CD; see the STP List of Compositions, STP Diskography, STP Sampler CDs Page, or Reviews of Stephen's Music.

The pieces are listed here in reverse chronological order.


Press on the links to the right of the titles to hear the MP3 or AIFF files, respectively. The MP3 files are much smaller, the AIFF files sound better.

Eternal Dream     MP3 excerpt 1      MP3 excerpt 2

(Santa Barbara/Stockholm, 2002; 19:10 minutes)

Music-Video work

Eternal Dream is a mixed-media piece for music and video based on an extended "remix" version of Gates Still Open augmented by sounds taken from several of my other pieces. There are several different videos to accompany the piece, one edited from the documentary Lucky People Center: International by Erik Pauser and Johan Söderberg, one created by Brian O'Reilly, and one by me. First performance: Santa Cruz, August, 2002.

Gates Still Open     MP3 excerpt 1      MP3 excerpt 2

(Santa Barbara/Berlin/Havana, 2000-02; 12:10 minutes)

Silly noisy pandemonium for voices and drums. Computer-processed voices, percussion samples, "circuit-bent" Speak'n'Spell, and synthetic sounds.

Paragraph 31 of the constitution of the Kingdoms of Elgaland/Vargaland (KREV) is "All Gates are Open." This is also the title of my 1992 national anthem for KREV, which is based on the poem "Sol och Guld" (Sun and Gold) by Michael von Hausswolff and Leif Elggren. My favorite two words of the text are "Evigt...dröm" (Eternal Dream), though they do not appear in that order in the poem. The final line of piece is from the title of an exhibition by Johanna Ekström, and is "Ingen har dott av Kärlek" (loosely: "You know, no one has died of love; no one has ever died of love"). The voices are those of Michael von Hausswolff and Leif Elggren, Ingeborg Eva de Fontana, Susanne Engberg, and from a "circuit-bent" Speak'n'Spell toy speech synthesizer courtesy of Brent Lehman.

As with most of my music, Gates Still Open: Eternal Dream has a strict classical form (exposition, development 1, development 2, recapitulation) so that it could be called Sonata in A for Voices and Percussion, opus 18.

Gates Still Open is dedicated in gratitude to my favorite monkey.

Sensing/Speaking Space     MP3 excerpt 1      MP3 excerpt 2      MP3 of entire piece

(Santa Barbara/Havana, 2001-02; 9:06 minutes)

Sounds from a contemplative installation. Computer-processed voices, bells, and natural sounds for a gallery installation.

Sensing/Speaking Space is an interactive installation developed in collaboration with the installation artist George Legrady and premiered at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in February, 2002. It was our intention to make a contemplative space or "Zen garden" in the gallery space.

The music consists of several layers (drone, singer, water sounds, bells, speakers, etc.); these are "conducted" by the visitors to the installation via a video camera and computer vision program, which send messages over a network to a SuperCollider program that controls the sound synthesis and mixing. The music is projected over a 6-channel sound system.

This version of Sensing/Speaking Space is a stereo mix of the layers. It was "played" live to illustrate the interrelationships of the layers and their responsiveness to user input. The constant chanting bell sound is reading the poem Ywe Ye, Yi Jr Di by the T'ang dynasty Chinese poet Tu Fu.

Four Magic Sentences     MP3      AIFF

(Berlin/Santa Barbara, 2000)

Four Magic Sentences is based on voices speaking 4 languages (English [Justin Bennett and Stephen Pope], Swedish [Michael von Hausswolff and Leif Ellgren], German [Ingeborg Eva de Fontana], and T'ang Chinese [Ernest Chin]). It is a study for a larger work-in-progress entitled "...nor shall my sword sleep in my hand."  The piece is intended to be listened to several times in succession. Realized: August - October, 2000 at the Electronic Studio of the Technical University of Berlin and the CREATE studio in Santa Barbara.

This is the entire piece; it lasts only 1:00 minute.

Paragraph 31: All Gates Are Open (A National Anthem)    MP3    AIFF

(Amsterdam/Stockholm, 1992/93)

Realized at the EMS Studio and the Swedish Institute for Computer Science (SICS) November, 1992-April, 1993. The text of the poem "Sol och Guld" (Sun and Gold) by King Michael Hausswolff and King Leif Elggren serves as the basis for this text-sound piece that uses the voices of the two poets in a tongue-in-cheek four-movement divertimento⁄suite filled with Swedish-language puns and word-plays. "All Gates Are Open" serves as one possible national anthem for the imaginary or virtual nation of Elgaland/Vargaland. First performance: Stockholm, April, 1993.

The excerpt presented here is the rhythmic pattern development in the first movement.

Kombination XI (A Ritual Place for Voices based on the Poem by Helmut Heissenbüttel)     MP3    AIFF

(Vienna/Palo Alto⁄Santa Barbara, 1978-98)

Realized at the Vienna Music Academy, CCRMA/Stanford, ParcPlace Systems, Inc., and the QuickSilver studios, 1978-90, revised Santa Barbara 1998. Kombination XI is a ritual or a place where one goes--a mood and an environment described in sound. Kombination XI can best be listened to as liturgical music for a ritual that aims to free the listener from his/her un-lived grief. All of the sound material for the piece (with the exception of the pedal tone), is derived from the recorded voices of two people speaking the text of Heissenbüttel's poem Kombination XI. These sounds are processed and mixed in the style of musique concrète collages. Kombination XI consists of 6 sections: a prelude, the four stanzas of the poem, and a postlude. First performance: STEIM Foundation concert series, Amsterdam, May, 1990.

The excerpt presented here is from the middle movement of the piece.

Day, an Improvisation    MP3    AIFF

(Palo Alto, 1987)

Realized at Xerox PARC, ParcPlace Systems and the composer's home, Palo Alto. Day is an interactive algorithmic composition to be performed live (by computer and MIDI equipment) as an installation in multiple city environments (busses, subways, plazas, etc.).

The excerpt presented here is from the mid-evening.

Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis    MP3    AIFF

(Salzburg/Munich, 1984/85)

Realized at the CMRS, Salzburg and PCS GmbH, Munich. Computer-generated tape music using simple bell-like sounds. Three sections that map onto the three special parts of the Requiem Mass (Dies Irae, Dies Illa; Lux Aeterna; and Libera me), are repeated twice with variations. Requiem is dedicated to my late friend and colleague Stephan Kaske.

The excerpt presented here is two repeated gestures from the end of the first Dies Irae.

4: Ballet Music for My Siblings    MP3    AIFF

(Salzburg/Paris, 1980/82)

Realized at the IRCAM center, Paris (using a real-time synthesizer and control interface built by Didier Roncin and controlled by a PDP-11/60 computer) and the studios of the Mozarteum, Salzburg. "4" is a mix of computer-generated sounds (taken from a suite of children's dances I wrote for my God-children) and recorded concrete sounds (bells, glass, and water). Realized with the support of the Salzburg State Cultural Council. Dedicated to my 4 siblings as well as to Jeremias, Sahra, Jana, and Radha. First performance: Venice (Biennale di Venezia), September, 1982.

The excerpt presented here is from the presto movement near the end of the 22-minute piece.

WAKE: Ten Tangents for Dance    MP3    AIFF

(Vienna/Toronto, 1979/80)

Realized at the SSSP (Structured Sound Synthesis Project) studio using their digital synthesizer controlled by a PDP-11/45 computer, University of Toronto. The original score was written for organ solo, and is intended to call spirits into the space where the piece is performed. The sound fragments are taken from spoken tones and are processed and spatialized according to phonetical as well as musical grammars. Realized with the support of the Canadian Cultural Council and the University of Toronto. First performance: Toronto, May, 1980.

The excerpt presented here is the first of the ten movements.

See also:

For more detailed information, mail a letter to STP.

[Stephen Travis Pope,  stp@create.ucsb.edu]