Charles Amirkhanian Collection ➔ Composer-to-Composer Festival: La Voix Humaine (July 13, 1991)

Digital Audio

Event Type
Lectures and Panel Discussions
C Amirkhanian
Program Series
Composer-to-Composer Festival
Program Length
70 min
1991-07-13 | created
John Lifton begins a panel discussion focusing on composing for the human voice.
This is the fourth panel discussion on July 13, 1991 during the Composer-to-Composer Festival. The panelists include Tom Zé, Steven Sachs (as translator), Fred Ho, Paul Dresher, Janice Giteck, and Pamela Z.

Janice Giteck starts off by discussing her experience with Opera and developing awareness of experimentation in vocal techniques, and how singing is a must when she is writing vocal music.
Pamela Z talks about how she writes music for voice, which is her primary instrument. She also discusses her interests in non-musical sounds and the dichotomy of the voice as a revered sound yet not always recognized as a legitimate instrument. Paul Dresher then talks about how he came around to writing vocal music, which was through his first commission. That experience developed his interest in musical theater, and using the voice, more for language than for extended techniques. The discussion continues with Fred Ho who starts by addressing the question about combining different cultural (or bilingual) vocal techniques. An excerpt from Ho's piece "The Pig Theme" is played, then Ho continues to talk about language in music, and how he realized he wanted to write music including the Chinese language which brought challenges with dialect. Ho expands on why he chose the Mandarin dialect to use for his musical writing. The next excerpt played is from his score "Uproar In Heaven", which offers another example of his utilization of the Chinese language.

The talk moves on with Tom Zé (with Steven Sachs translating), to discuss the use of voice and techniques in his music. One of the most important things for Zé when working on vocal music is that people hear the text. The way he works with voice is very organic, and he hasn't thought about the process in an intellectual way. He also talks about a forgotten group project whose aim was to study and make a dictionary of vocal sounds that did not include any type of singing or talking.

Janice Giteck introduces two excerpts from her works "Thunder Like a White Bear Dancing" and "Callin' Home Coyote".

The audience is then invited to ask questions before listening to an excerpt from Pamela Z's "Pop Titles 'You'". Pamela Z then briefly explains the use and humorous source of texts in the piece just heard. Various issues related to vocal dynamic range get discussed with Lifton, Z, and Paul Dresher before John Lifton performs a short example of one of his pieces.

The group continue to comment on each other's work before Lifton asks Dresher about the vocal developments of his recent project "Slowfire". Before closing, a few more questions from the audience are taken and then Tom Zé's "Um 'Oh!' e um 'Ah!'" is played.

[Note: The volume level for the first 23 seconds is quite low then normalizes.]

Chamber music
Electro-Acoustic / Electronic
World music
Musical Selections
Pig Theme [excerpt] (1989) (1:24) -- Uproar In Heaven [excerpt] (3:03) / Fred Ho -- Thunder Like A White Bear Dancing [excerpt] (5:45) -- Callin' Home Coyote [excerpt] (3:02) / Janice Giteck -- Pop Titles "You" [excerpt] (2:15) / Pamela Z -- Um "Oh!" e um "Ah!" [excerpt] (1:00) / Tom Zé
Thomasa Eckert, voice and hand percussion (Thunder)
Jane Lenoir, flute and hand percussion (Thunder)
Roger Nelson, piano and hand percussion (Thunder)
John Duykers, tenor (Callin')
Andy Narrell, steel drums (Callin')
Deborah Deloria, string-bass (Callin')
Vocal music--20th century
Composition (Music)