Free Music Friday: The 1970 Dartmouth Electronic Music Competition

Free Music Friday: Anablog has posted free MP3s of a vintage electronic music album, The 1970 Dartmouth Electronic Music Competition.

You can preview one of the tracks below, Richard Allan Robinson’s Ambience:


The source material for Ambience was produced on an “instrument” consisting of three electric bass guitar strings strung lengthwise across a long board, with a bridge and a small magnetic guitar pickup at each end. Two modes of sound production were used. One, in which transversely placed metal pipes were rolled up and down the length of the strings, of multiple glissandi. A second, predominant texture was produced by causing a number lengths to “oscillate” or rock across the strings (rather than to roll lengthwise).

This basic recorded material was then extensively transformed electronically by filtering, heterodyning, ring modulation, speed changes, etc., an 6′ finally an overall structure was composed of variously complex superimpositions and juxtapositions of the two basic textural types. A light controlled channel-speaker distributing device used in the original qaudrasonic version further emphasizes this textural contrast in that gliding textures have a predominantly circling movement around the listening area, while the more active, rhythmic textures move disjunctly.

The intention of the piece, originally conceived for performance with the Atlanta Contemporary Dance Group, is to create an impression of actually being swept up in a familiar yet mysterious sound-atmosphere or ambience – perhaps somewhat like the experience of driving alone in a car at night – a sense of increasing absorption and identity with the surrounding sounds – the motor, rushing air, tires on pavement, vibrations, etc. —

From the liner notes:

For the last three years, Dartmouth College has held an annual competition for electronic music. The winners and finalists’ works from the first competition were released by Vox two years ago and we at Dartmouth felt gratified by the warm critical response to the recording. We were also pleased that the competition gave the public an opportunity to hear some of the best works by new and younger composers.

The judges for the second competition were Lars-Gunnar Bodin from Sweden, Charles Dodge and Pril Smiley from the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center and Kenneth Gaburo from the University of California, San Diego. They chose the winning works anonymously after listening to nearly one hundred different entries. The winning composers were Peter Glushanok, an experienced film maker who has a small electronic music studio in his home, and Peter Klausmeer, a graduate student at the University of Michigan. The two finalists were Walter Kimmel,who is director of the electronic music studio at Moorhead State College,and Raymond Moore, who is a recording engineer for a large record company.

There were over two hundred entries in the 1970 competition which meant nearly a week of listening for judges Sal Martriano from the University of Illinois, Francois Bayle of France and James K. Randall of Princeton University. Again the prize was divided between one of Chile’s leading composers, Jose Vicente Asuar and Richard A. Robinson, the director of the Atlanta Electronic Music Center. The finalists were Jean-Claude Risset who works in Marseille, France, but who realized his work at the Bell Laboratories in New Jersey,and Jonathan Weiss, a Composer in his early twenties who is in residence at the R.A. Moog Co. in Trumansberg, New York.

The listener to this album will hear enormous diversity in the approach used by the different composers. The following comments about the works were written by the composers themselves.

Jon H. Appleton, Director
Dartmouth Electronic Music Studio

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