CDs from Stephen Travis Pope 

NOTE: These are obsolete; Please see the Ritual and Memory collection released on EMF Media.


CD 1 -- Ritual Places -- 1978-2002 -- 22 Tracks, 73:13 minutes

[Tracks 1-6] Kombination XI (A Ritual Place for Processed Voices)

Slow quiet ritual/liturgical music for processing one's grief. Vienna/Palo Alto, 1978-90, revised Santa Barbara, 1998 - 14:25 min., six movements. Processed voices derived from two speakers reading a poem by Helmut Heissenbüttel.

[7-9] Day, An Improvisation (Excerpts)

Light jazz algorithmic improvisation for synthesizers. Palo Alto, 1986/87 - three excerpts, 10:40 min. Structured computer/synthesizers improvisation using low-end inexpensive equipment.

[10-11] Four Magic Sentences

Abstract chaotic mantra. Berlin/Santa Barbara, 2000 - 1:00 min. Mantra for 20,000 processed voices speaking poetry in four languages, repeated twice.

[12-13] Sensing/Speaking Space

Sounds from a contemplative installation (a "Zen garden"). Santa Barbara/Havana, 2001-02; 9:06 min. Computer-processed voices, bells, and natural sounds for a gallery installation.

[14-17] Gates Still Open: Eternal Dream

Silly noisy pandemonium for voices and drums. Santa Barbara/Berlin/Havana, 2000-02; 13:38 min. Computer-processed voices, percussion samples, "circuit-bent" Speak'n'Spell, and synthetic sounds. Dedicated in gratitude to my favorite monkey.

[18-22] 4: Ballet Music for My Siblings

Minimalist ballet based on a series of children's dances. Paris/Salzburg, 1980-82 - 23 min. Ballet music for the prototype IRCAM digital synthesizer and recorded natural sounds (water and bells). Dedicated to my siblings and God-children.

CD 2 -- Dunkelkammergespräche -- Invented Languages -- 22 Tracks, 60:42 Minutes

[1-6] Paragraph 31: All Gates Are Open (A National Anthem)

Stockholm, 1992/93 - 30 min. Processed voices of the Kings of Elgaland/Vargaland
 1 - Introduction (1:00)
 2 - Dreaming and Waking (7:40)
 3/4 - Eternal Life (6:00 + 2:30)
 5 - Also Love (7:32)
 6 - All the Same Song (5:18)

[7-12] Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis

Salzburg/Munich, 1983/84 - 14 min. Computer-synthesized bell-like sounds; 3 movements from the Requiem Mass
 7 - Dies Irae, Dies Illa (2:15)
 8 - Lux Aeterna (2:16)
 9 - Libera me (2:13)

 10 - Dies Irae, Dies Illa (2:07)
 11 - Lux Aeterna (2:07)
 12 - Libera me (2:06)

[13-22] WAKE: Ten Tangents for Dance

Toronto, 1979/80 - 18 min. (10 movements)
SSSP digital synthesizer with organ- and voice-like sounds
 13 - EW (1:17)      14 - ES (1:12)
 15 - ED (1:36)      16 - EF (1:34)
 17 - ER (1:15)      18 - AZ (1:55)
 19 - AX (1:56)      20 - AS (2:16)
 21 - AW (1:49)      22 - AQ (2:17)

Complete Program Notes

CD 1: Ritual Places

CD 2: Dunkelkammergespräche

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

The pieces in this collection stem from over 24 years work in studios in Austria, France, Sweden, Canada, The Netherlands, Germany, and the USA, using a range of composition and production techniques. My most common source is the human voice in prayer. Headphones are recommended, as is darkness while listening.

CD 1 Tracks 1-6: Kombination XI (A Ritual Place for Voices based on the Poem by Helmut Heissenbüttel)

Slow quiet ritual/liturgical music for processing one's grief. Realized at the Vienna Music Academy, CCRMA/Stanford, ParcPlace Systems, Inc., and the QuickSilver studios, 1978-90, revised 1998 at the CREATE studio at UC Santa Barbara, 14:25 minutes. First performance: STEIM Foundation concert series, Amsterdam, April, 1990.
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. This is the first movement of a four-part mass (work in progress). 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. Text (next page) by Helmut Heissenbüttel, Hamburg/Stuttgart, 1956, reused by permission of the Bechtle Verlag (Translation by Stephen Pope, Vienna, 1978).

Kombination XI, Helmut Heissenbüttel, 1956
  Combination 11

(1) Die Nacht ist ein Muster aus Bogenlampen und Autorücklichtern.
      The night is a pattern of arc lamps and auto tail lights.
 Auf der reglosen Fläche der Alster stehen die weissen Fahnen der Nacht.
      On the unmoving surface of the river stand the white flags of night.
 Unter den Bäumen gehen die Schatten.
      Under the trees walk the shadows.
 Ich bin's
      It's me.

(2) Dunkelkammergespräche
 Schattengitter über dem schmelzenden Eis
      Shadow-grids over the melting ice
 Auf Spiegelstelzen stehen die Lichter am Ufer.
      On mirror-stands stand the lights on the bank.
 Die unbelichteten Stellen verblühen.
      The unlight places wither.

(3) All diese Sätze
      All these sentences
 Das Inventar der Gelegenheiten
      The inventory of the possibilities
 Vergiss nicht
      Don't forget
 Gerede von Schallplatten
      Talking on records
 Das Gedächtnis von Tonfilmstreifen die abgespielt sind
      The memory of sound-film-strips that are played out

(4) Und die Fragen sind die Sätze die ich nicht aussprechen kann.
      And the questions are the sentences that I cannot pronounce.
 Und die Gedanken sind die Vögel die wegfliegen und nicht wiederkommen.
      And the thoughts are the birds that fly away and do not return.

CD 1 Tracks 7-9: Day, an Improvisation   (excerpt)

Light jazz algorithmic improvisation for synthesizers. Realized at Xerox PARC and the composer's home, Palo Alto, 1987, 3 excerpts, 10:40 minutes.
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.). It is intended as a positive-thinking sound track for the day. The concert version consists of three short segments from different parts of the day.
 9 - Early morning (5:35)       10 - Just before noon (3:05)         11 - Late evening (2:00)

CD 1 Tracks 10-11: Four Magic Sentences

Abstract chaotic mantra. Realized at the Electronic Studio of the Technical University of Berlin and the CREATE studio at UC Santa Barbara, July-October, 2000, 1:00 minute, repeated twice. First performance: Santa Barbara, November, 2000.
Four Magic Sentences is scored for 20,000 voices speaking four languages (English, Swedish, German, and T'ang Dynasty Chinese). It is a study for a larger work-in-progress entitled ...nor shall my sword sleep in my hand. The piece is intended as a mantra to be listened to several times in succession for the full effect.

CD 1 Tracks 12-13: Sensing/Speaking Space

Sounds from a contemplative installation. Santa Barbara/Havana, 2001-02; 9:06 minutes. 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.

CD 1 Tracks 14-17: Gates Still Open: Eternal Dream

Silly noisy pandemonium for voices and drums. Santa Barbara/Berlin/Havana, 2000-02; 13:38 minutes. 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. 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." Gates Still Open: Eternal Dream is dedicated in gratitude to my favorite monkey.

CD 1 Tracks 18-22:   4 - Ballet Music for My Siblings

Minimalist ballet based on a series of children's dances. 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, Academy, Salzburg, 1980-82, 23:00 minutes. First performance: Venice (Biennale di Venezia), September, 1982.
4 is a mix of computer-generated sounds (taken from a suite of pentatonic [or microtonal] children's dances I wrote for my God-children) and recorded concrete sounds (bells, glass, and flowing water). It is intended to accompany dance or performance art and to celebrate the gifts of life and friendship. Realized with the support of the Salzburg Cultural Council. 4 is dedicated to my four siblings, and to Jeremias and Sahra Meyer, and Jana and Ratha Druskoviç.

CD 2: Dunkelkammergespräche

Each of the three extended compositions on the second CD introduces an imaginary language and then tries to create poetry in it.

CD 2 Tracks 1-10: WAKE: Ten Tangents for Dance

Quiet hymns for slow movement. Realized at the University of Toronto Structured Sound Synthesis Project studio using a digital synthesizer controlled by a PDP-11/45 computer, 1979/80, ten movements, 17 minutes. First performance: Toronto, May, 1980
The original (graphical) score was written for organ solo, and is intended to call spirits into the space where the piece is performed. The sound fragments used in the computer realization are taken from spoken tones and are processed and spatialized according to phonetical as well as musical grammars. Realized with the support of the Canada Council and the University of Toronto.

 1 - EW (1:17)      2 - ES (1:12)
 3 - ED (1:36)      4 - EF (1:34)
 5 - ER (1:15)      6 - AZ (1:55)
 7 - AX (1:56)      8 - AS (2:16)
 9 - AW (1:49)      10 - AQ (2:17)

CD 2 Tracks 11-16: Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis

Requiem for bells. Realized at the CMRS studio, Salzburg and PCS GmbH, Munich, 1984/85. six movements, 13:20 minutes.
Computer-generated music using simple bell-like sounds. The three sections map onto three parts of the Requiem Mass (Dies Irae, Dies Illa; Lux Aeterna; and Libera me), and are repeated twice with variations. Requiem is dedicated to my late friend and colleague Stephan Kaske (1962-1985); it was composed in part by the ARA expert system program.

Themes:                                          Variations:
 11 - Dies Irae, Dies Illa (2:15)           14 - Dies Irae, Dies Illa (2:07)
 12 - Lux Aeterna (2:16)                   15 - Lux Aeterna (2:07)
 13 - Libera me (2:13)                       16 - Libera me (2:06)

CD 2 Tracks 17-22: Paragraph 31: All Gates Are Open (A National Anthem)

Realized at the STEIM Institute, Amsterdam, the EMS studio, Stockholm and the Swedish Institute for Computer Science, 1992-1993, five movements, 30 minutes. First performance: Stockholm, April, 1993.
The piece serves as one possible national anthem for the imaginary or virtual nation of Elgaland/Vargaland (KREV; for details see The text of the Swedish poem Sol och Guld (Sun and Gold) by King Michael Hausswolff and King Leif Elggren serves as the basis of the piece. All Gates Are Open is a text-sound piece that uses the voices of the two poet-kings in a tongue-in-cheek four-movement divertimento/suite filled with Swedish-language puns and word-plays. The sentences that make up the introduction (and the names of the five movements) are:
  Dröm och Vaka         Dreaming and waking
  Evigt Liv                    Eternal life
  Och kärleken             Also love
  En enda sång            All the same song
  namn, namn, namn    munch, munch, munch

The text is as follows.

Sol och Guld
 (by C. M. von Hausswolff and L. Elggren)

Frihet och dygd. Mod och ära. Evigt liv.
Folk och stat. Jord och rymd. Sol och guld och evigt liv.
Och kärleken. Spira och svärd. Konungen.

Fullkomlig frid. Dröm och vaka. Evigt liv.
Så född och formad. Jag, gud och du.
Räds varken mörker och djävulens hav,
varken tid eller plats uti land och i hav.

At nu upp din gröt. Namn, namn, namn.
Blicken framåt för alla folk och djur
och bakåt på samma gång.
I samma språng.
En enda sång.

Reviewer Comments

Mesmerizing [...] there is a wealth of subtle variety in the timbres. It invited the listener's close attention and in return offered an intimate pas de deux. (Ira Mowitz in Computer Music Journal) The piece seems to learn its behavior from itself, the melodic/rhythmic material organically evolving like a good improviser. (Larry Austin in Perspectives of New Music)  I am consistently drawn in to explore this sound and feeling world. The sense of structure is strongly evident at both micro- and macro-levels. [...] This piece works both as music and as ritual. (Craig Harris in Leonardo)  A compelling exploration of the mutagenesis of poetry into music. It is a serious work which merits close listening. (Rick Bidlack in Array)  Texturally rich--something lacking in most computer music--and programmatically intriguing. (Jim O'Rourke in Your Flesh)

About the Composer

Stephen Travis Pope (b. 1955, New Jersey, USA), studied at Cornell University, the Vienna Music Academy, and the "Mozarteum" in Salzburg, Austria, receiving a variety of degrees and certificates in electrical engineering/computer science, recording engineering, and music theory and composition. He has taught both music and computer science at the graduate level. From 1988 to 1997, he served as editor-in-chief of Computer Music Journal (MIT Press). He is active as a composer, a software consultant, as senior research specialist at the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE) at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and as a lecturer in the UCSB graduate program in Media Arts and Technology (MAT).
He has realized his musical works in numerous computer music studios in Europe and the USA; his music is available from Centaur Records, Perspectives of New Music, Touch, SBC Records, Electronic Music Foundation CDs, and on MIT Press CD/CD-ROMs. He also has over 80 publications in the fields of computer music, artificial intelligence, human-computer interfaces, and object-oriented software. He was elected a lifetime member of the International Computer Music Association in 1990. Stephen lived in Europe (Austria, Germany and France) from 1977-86, and has spent several years there since then (in Holland and Sweden). Since 1986, he has lived primarily in California. He is a practising Quaker/Friend.

Stephen Travis Pope, Santa Barbara, California USA,
    © 1978-2006 Stephen T. Pope, GEMA/Touch/Nomad. All Rights Reserved.

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