STAN SHAFF - COMPOSITIONS
The CATALOGUE OF WORKS Page presents Stan Shaff’s Compositions as a single page. The identical information and text, in a more dispersed form, is found on the History Page.
An electronic music concert, space-audiums, conceived and executed as movement through space.Program Note Excerpts:
SPACE AUDIUMS is a joint project between Stanley Shaff and Douglas McEachern.The notion of sound location, travel and dimension in time and space are elements this concert will explore. Sound and its travel through space has attracted limited interest amongst composers. This is due primarily to physical limitations of the musician and his control of the sound environment. With the advent of electronic means, the spacial positions, which sound defines, can take on new provocative relationships. SPACE AUDIUMS is an attempt to control and reveal this expanded sound world. “Some of these notions began about six years ago as an outgrowth of my experience with Seymour Locks combining light with sound. Since then, McEachern and I have collaborated with the Ann Halprin dance group. Periodically,concerts were given at my own studio.” Stan Shaff
AUDIUM: An electronic music concert, conceived and executed as movement through space. Program Notes: Largely as S.F. State, with the word Space Audiums changed to Audium.
AUDIUM - An electronic music concert, conceived and executed as movement through space. Development of “Mobile” Speaker Placement Program Text Notes to Oct. 15th “Insight” discussions for high school students on the Art of Our Time: Contemporary Music and Contemporary Art - Is there a parallel in intention and content? Stan Shaff, contemporary composer, and Doug McEachern, electronics expert, using their specially built “Audium” equipment, will demonstrate their experiments in programmed “spatial” music and discuss the relation of contemporary sound to visualization through sound stimulus. Is there such a thing as non-music or non-art? Are the old boundaries between temporal and plastic arts no longer valid? INSIGHTS explores new ground in their special inter-arts program.Program Note Excerpts:
In the rendering of this expanded sound world, AUDIUM defines new relationships between composer, performer and audience... The first AUDIUM performance (Controlled movement of sound events) was in 1960. ....Ensuing programs brought refinements to the space control units and gave new insights into the overall program presentation. In Oct. 1963 the techniques in their current form were presented here at the Museum. The present concert is an extension of these notions.
First composition for first theatre built specifically for this new art form Performance of sound through space in a controlled environmentProgram Note Excerpts:
...Sound and its travel through space has attracted limited interest among composers. This is due primarily to physical limitations of the musician and his control of the sound environment. With the advent of electronic means, the spacial positions, which sound defines, can take on a new importance. In the rendering of this expanded sound world, AUDIUM introduces the tape performer and defines a new relationship between composer and audience. In order to more fully explore the potential of this experience-in-sound, an environment with implications of plasticity had to be constructed. Programming equipment was then redesigned to accommodate the needs of the new environment and now allows a more nearly complete control of the sound-space continuum. The current presentation...is a realization and extension of these evolving ideas and expects to bring the listener closer toward a personal participation in auditory experiences.
Sound location, travel and dimension in time and space are the inherent concerns of AUDIUM. These areas have only been sparsely dealt with by composers, due in part to the musician’s limitations in his control of the environment. Through the design of original electronic equipment, AUDIUM makes possible the mastery of sound movement and thereby the shaping and sculpting of auditory space. The need for a permanent environment providing for the specific concerns of the compositions, led to the first AUDIUM series at this location in 1967. The ability of the tape performer to interpret the compositions through his control of sound dimension facilitated the interaction between composer, performer and audience. The evolution of the compositions combined with the experiences and possibilities of this new medium have resulted in the current presentation. It is a total sound theatre. The environment is not only a setting, it is in itself a sound instrument.
First composition for second Audium Theatre: A Theatre of Sound-Sculptured SpaceProgram Note Excerpts:
AUDIUM is a musical medium conceived to realize the spatial and sculptural dimensions of sound. It is based on a new understanding of space as an inherent component of music composition and performance. The composer writes specifically for this medium, with a fundamental interest in all parameters of the environment. Completed taped compositions are played through a custom-designed console by the tape performer, allowing for exact control of sound location, movement, speed and intensity. He shapes and sculpts the sound images by channeling them through 136 independently controlled speakers: above, below, front, rear, sides and on multidimensional planes. The audience is immersed in this sound-space continuum. Throughout AUDIUM’s 15 year span of performances, there has been a continual interaction between evolving compositional needs and technical capabilities. Thus, as compositions have become more complex, original equipment systems have paralleled their growth. The present theatre offered an opportunity to design and construct a total sound environment. It is a building within a building, an effort of several years planning and execution. The result is an environment created for a specific art form....
During its 20 year span of performances, from early portable set-ups to the current sound theatre, AUDIUM has sought to make concrete the spatial dimension of sound. Driven by a compositional philosophy which recognized space as an inherent component of music, complemented by innovative performance technology, AUDIUM has evolved into a new musical medium: a theatre of sound-sculptured space. The present concert is conceived as a total sound environment, from the listeners entrance to his exit. The composer writes with a fundamental concern for all parameters of the environment; foyer, labyrinth and performance space constitute a compositional continuum. While the works are complete and on tape, they are performed live at each program through a custom-designed console. The tape performer shapes and sculpts the sound images, channeling them through 136 independently-controlled speakers. He determines the sounds location, direction, movement, speed and intensity. As natural and electronic sound travel on multiple planes, above, below, front, rear and sides become aural dimensions. The listener, immersed in this sound-space continuum, is experiencing sound as a kinetic, sculptural energy. Speakers and environment are transformed into a spatial electronic orchestra.
When the concept of AUDIUM began taking shape in the late 1950s, space was a largely unexplored dimension in music composition. The composer who suspected space capable of revealing a new musical vocabulary found his pursuit blocked by the inadequacy of audiotechnology and performance spaces. Because of an unusual combination of art and technology (AUDIUMs creators, composer Stan Shaff and equipment designer Doug McEachern were both professional musicians), AUDIUMs conception and realization were able to evolve jointly. AUDIUM is the only theatre anywhere constructed specifically for sound movement, utilizing the entire environment as a compositional tool. AUDIUM the sound theatre: The theatre consists of a foyer, a sound labyrinth and a main performance space. It is a building within a build- ing, conceived directly for this art form, and built in part with a grant from the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS. Listeners sit in con- centric circles and are enveloped by speakers in sloping walls, a float- ing floor and a suspended ceiling. Compositions are performed live at each program by a tape performer who directs sounds through a custom-designed console to any combination of 169 speakers. Sounds are sculpted through their movement, direction, speed and intensity on multiple planes in space. Live performance of taped works gives a human, interactive element to AUDIUMs spatial electronic orchestra. AUDIUMs aesthetic: “I have always been possessed by the evocative qualities all sounds seem to have, whether natural or electronic. Sounds touch deeper levels of our inner life, layers that lie just beneath the visual world. All sounds are communicative sound as birth, life and death; sound as time and space; sound as object, environment or event. Audiences should feel sound as it bumps up against them, caresses,travels through, covers and enfolds them. I ask listeners to see with their ears and feel with their bodies sounds as images, dreams and memories. As people walk into a work, they become part of its realization. From entrance to exit, AUDIUM is a sound-space continuum.” Stan Shaff, Composer
From 1984 to 2008, AUDIUM offered weekly public performances. The composition underwent various transformations, wherein the focus was on the development of new performance techniques. As the subtleties of tape performance in space continued to be refined, concurrent digital recording and performance technologies were developed. Speakers were added under seats, additional speakers and channels were added for ambient sounds.
New work, AUDIUM 9
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS , 1972: Grant to help re-establish AUDIUM, after first performance space is closed. NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS , 1975 through 1981: Six grants for performance-seminar series and compositions for college and high-school groups