Communauté électroacoustique canadienne
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Works » By Title » T » Tongues of Angels (13:15 / 1988)

Barry D. Truax

for oboe d'amore, English horn and tape

“Tongues of Angels” was commissioned by and written for Lawrence Cherney with the assistance of Canada Council. The tape portion is based on short fragments of ‘phonemes’ of sounds from the two instruments he performs live in the piece, the oboe d'amore and English horn. These recordings were granulated and reconstructed to create an environment of virtuosity with which the performer could interact. In this interaction the progression from speeds and patterns within the performance range of the instrumentalist to those achievable only by the computer creates much of the underlying dramatic tension of the work. We sense the struggle of the performer to match the virtuosity of the tape part and to transcend the limitations of human performance. The transcendence finally materializes at the end of the work when, after a gradual accelerando in both parts from syncopated rhythms through to fused textures and continuous gestures, there is a dramatic downward glissando on the tape. Despite the fact that all material was derived from the instruments heard live in the performance, the effect is suddenly that of a choir of voices, a transcendent image that inspired the biblically derived title of the work. Perhaps it could also be a metaphor for the technique of granular synthesis that seems to break into a new sonic domain. BT

  • Studio: Sonic Research Studio, Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, British Columbia)
  • Premiere: North American New Music Festival (Buffalo, USA), 16-iii-1988; «Two New Hours», CBC FM (Toronto, Ontario), 18-ix-1988
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