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Page 00000001 SYNAPSE> VALENTINE: REUNITING ACOUSTIC AND ELECTRONIC Jeremy Castro Baguyos Peabody Computer Music Johns Hopkins University 1 E Mt. Vernon Place Baltimore, MD 21202 ABSTRACT Synapse> Valentine by Jacoob Druckman was conceived as a single electroacoustic work. The first half, Synapse is the electronic portion, and the second half, Valentine, is the acoustic portion. Synapse is often omitted in public performances. Beginning with a brief overview of Druckman's career and works, this paper examines the practice of omitting the electronic Synapse and presents evidence that could discourage its omission in future performances. The reasons that should compel a performer to include Synapse with a performance of Valentine consist of Druckman's published words, an analysis of musical gestures shared by both Synapse and Valentine, and historical precedents. The evidence can be presented as a paper, but the evidence is more effective if the paper is presented in tandem with a live performance and demonstration. A performance would be most useful in a demonstration of the points in section 3.2. A performer can be supplied by the author. 1. INTRODUCTION Jacob Druckman (1928-1996) was already an American composer rising to prominence even before winning the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1972 for his orchestral work, Windows (1972). He was accepted by Copland for summer study at the Berkshire Music Center (Tanglewood) and entered Juilliard in 1949. As a Fullbright Fellow, Druckman continued his studies at Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. He served on the faculties of Juilliard, Bard College, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Yale . From 1982 -86, Druckman was the composer-in-residence for the New York Philharmonic. He was the recipient of numerous awards such as the Guggenheim Fellowship and election to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and he has received commissions from the major orchestras in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, New York, and France. In addition, he has written numerous vocal works and chamber works. One of the small chamber works is Valentine (1969). This avant-garde bass solo requires techniques beyond the traditional arco and pizzicato techniques of sound production. It requires the bassist to "attack" the instrument with all parts of the bow, all parts of the timpani stick, percussive tapping with both hands on different parts of the bass, and pizzicato harmonics. It also requires the bassist to use vocalisms . As an electronic composer, Druckman served as the director of the electronic music studio at Yale and was associated with the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. His electroacoustic works include Animus I(1966), Animus 11(1968), Animus II(1969), Animus IV (1977), Orison (1970), and Synapse (1971) . Synapse was the only all-electronic piece that Druckman composed, and he wrote it to accompany Valentine. Today, however, Valentine is usually performed without Synapse. Though Jacob Druckman's Synapse is the often omitted and forgotten electronic prelude to Druckman's Valentine, the performance of Synapse along with Valentine is still and always has been an appropriate and effective pairing, and it should be encouraged. 2. CURRENT PRACTICE 2.1 The Omission of Synapse The omission of Synapse has been the normal practice in the more visible performances of the pair of Druckman works. Available recordings of Valentine are included on the CD Works of Schubert, Gliere, Koussevitzky, Perle, and Druckman as recorded by Lawrence Wolfe for the Titanic Records label and on the CD Contrebasse Et Voix as recorded by Joelle Leandre for ADDA. Both recordings omit Synapse [7 ] [11I]. A 1975 performance by John Deak at the Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City also omits Synapse . A more recent performance by Deak in Denver also omits Synapse. Other casual Internet searches would yield the same results on other prominent performances. An electroacoustic and computer music program has even omitted Synapse when presenting Valentine in their recital series. In February 2003, a recital presented by the Computer Music Department of the Peabody Conservatory omitted Synapse. The only recording that includes both Synapse and Valentine is the album recorded by bassist Alvin Brehm for the Nonesuch label. This record is currently out of print. When bassists and computer music studios are presenting Valentine without Synapse and recordings are released without the electronic avant-propos, the practice of omitting Synapse in a performance of Valentine becomes commonplace and accepted.
Page 00000002 3.2. Shared Musical Gestures 2.2 Reasons For The Omission of Synapse There are several reasons that account for the practice of omitting Synapse when performing Valentine. The most vexing reason is that Synapse is available only on rental from Boosey & Hawkes Inc in New York City . On the other hand, the performance parts for Valentine can be purchased from MCA Music. This creates inconvenience and additional expense for the performer and concert promoters. Another deterrent to the pairing of the works is the inherent disconnection between the two works due to the different dates of composition. Valentine was written in 1969 after a request from Bertram Turetzky and was premiered in the same year by Alvin Brehm. On the other hand, Synapse was released in 1971 with a commission from Nonesuch Records . A perusal of the catalog of Druckman's principal publisher, Boosey, and a similar perusal of the list of Druckman's works in The New Grove Dictionary of Music would seem to indicate that Synapse and Valentine are indeed two completely separate works. In these sources, Synapse and Valentine are each listed in different categories. In summary, the works were completed in different years, they are classified in different categories, they were commissioned by different sources, and the performance parts are obtained from different companies through different methods of procurement. 3. REASONS FOR REUNIFICATION 3.1. In Druckman's Words Despite the practices of omitting Synapse and the reasons for omission, there are compelling reasons for playing Synapse and Valentine as a pair. The most compelling reason lies in Druckman's own words. In an interview for High Fidelity/Musical America, Druckman stated, "I see Synapse and Valentine as an indivisible pair of works." He elaborated by stating further, "To me they have the same gesture, the same stance, the same sense of irony. Neither is very respectable. I don't want them performed separately" . In an interview published a decade later, Druckman reiterated the relationship. In response to a question about his preference for live performers with tape over completely electronic compositions, Druckman stated, "The only straight electronic work I've ever done was for a Nonesuch record. It's a piece called Synapse, and it was done as a prelude to Valentine" . Part of the tradition of Western Art Music is the modem performer's consideration of the composer's intent in the interpretation of a work. According to Druckman's own words, Synapse and Valentine are paired as one electroacoustic work. 3.2.1 Smaller Musical Gestures Druckman regarded Synapse and Valentine as an indivisible pair of works" in that they have the same gesture, the same stance, the same sense of irony." The shared musical gestures that unify Synapse and Valentine are the following: 1) slow and deliberate glissandi that end on an indefinite pitch, 2) fast and rhythmical cells of "ghost" notes, 3) exhaling gestures, 4) and the use of sounds that emulate the flute. The first presentation of the most obvious gesture, the glissandi, begins its realization in Synapse at 2:20 (2 minutes and 20 seconds). From this point to timing point 4:10 (4 minutes and 10 seconds), the listener is bombarded with multiple recurrences of slow and deliberate glissandi that end on an indefinite pitch. The glissandi return once again at timing point 8:02 (8 minutes and 2 seconds) and continue for approximately 22 seconds to timing point 8:24 (8 minutes and 24 seconds). Valentine has similar glissandi at timing points:22 sec,:26,:29,:38,:53, and at 1:35. The second and relatively subtle gesture of fast and rhythmical cells of "ghost" notes occur near the beginning of Synapse at timing point:15 and continue for approximately 25 seconds to:40. The second occurrence of these fast, rhythmical cells of "ghost" notes occur at the same time as the first presentation of the glissandi. In this section of combined gestures from timing point 2:20 to 4:10, the glissandi and "ghost" notes dovetail and form a very agitated and heterogeneous sonic tapestry. In Valentine, most of the fast, rhythmical cells of ghost notes occur at the beginning from:20 to 1:40. Almost all of these figures are performed with the timpani stick and they are an acoustic performer's presentation of the same figures that were realized in Synapse. Like Synapse, the fast, rhythmical "ghost" notes are situated within a very agitated and heterogeneous texture. In Valentine, the "ghost" notes are intermingled with a variety of double bass sonorities created with a variety of extended techniques. Another small musical gesture shared by both Synapse and Valentine is the "sighing" gesture. In Synapse, the sighing gestures can be heard at 1:30, 7:35, and 8:34. On the Nonesuch recording, bassist Alvin Brehm forcefully exhales during Synapse at timing point 1:30 to accentuate the sighing gesture. In Valentine, the "sighing" gesture occurs several times. They occur at 2:49, 3:00, 3:24, 5:35, 6:40, 8:13, and 8:47. Most are executed with richochet col legno after a short dramatic pause that emulates inhalation. In some cases, vocalisms are used to audiblize the inhalation and exhalation that accentuate a "sighing" motive. The final gesture is the RCA Mark II's emulation of flute sounds in Valentine, and the matching emulation of flute sounds in Valentine with double bass harmonics. The sounds occur in the slower and more subdued middle section of Synapse from 4:29 to 6:00. The same sounds are emulated in Valentine from 2:00 to 2:35 and from 8:30 to the end.
Page 00000003 These shared gestures between Synapse and Valentine allow Druckman to create an indivisible pair of works. 3.2.2 Larger Musical Gestures On a larger scale, the smaller gestures combine to delineate an overall form. The shared gestures between both works combine in similar ways. The result is the validation of the indivisibility of Synapse and Valentine through similar forms. Both Synapse and Valentine begin with a very active and almost agitated heterogeneous texture. In Synapse, the RCA Mark II is programmed to realize a multitude of sounds from:00 to 4:10. This would include the glissandi bombardment and the "ghost" notes. In Valentine, the bassist is instructed to create a variety of sounds with, vocalisms, timpani stick sounds, treating every part of the bass as a source of percussive sound, and other extended techniques. For each work, this agitated and heterogeneous section would constitute the First section (Section I). In Synapse, the timing of section one is from 0:00 to 4:10. Section one in Synapse can be further divided into two separate sections The first of the two sections (Section la) is without the glissandi and runs from 0:00 to 2:20. The second of the two sections (Section Ib) is with the glissandi and runs from 2:20 to 4:10. In Valentine, Section I runs from 0:00 to 1:25. Section II of Synapse runs from 4:10 to 6:00 and Section II of Valentine runs from 1:30 to 5:00. Both share the same characteristics. Both have a sparse texture and have less musical activity than Section I. There is more homogeneity of sound. In Valentine, most of the sound is produced with traditional techniques such as arco. Synapse, also is more subdued and does not exploit the full range of sounds that a synthesizer can produce. For both Synapse and Valentine, instead of constant disjunctive melodies with pointillist dynamics, there is a more gradual and subdued allusion to melodies with less leaps and more flow. There are, however, occasional but shocking interruptions to the quiet texture. Eventually, the interjections become more frequent. The increased frequency coincides with the increase of musical activity and intensity that is obviously headed somewhere else. This transition material makes up Section III for both works. For Synapse, Section III runs from 6:00 to 7:38. For Valentine, Section III runs from 5:00 to 7:00. Section III eventually resolves to Section IV. For Synapse, Section IV begins at 7:38 and goes to the end of the piece. For Valentine, Section IV begins at 7:00 and goes to the end of the piece. For both Synapse and Valentine, Section IV contains longer sections of steady and rhythmic ostinatos. Superimposed over these ostinatos are gestures that hark back to the earlier heterogeneous textures of Section I. Eventually, the end of Section IV for both works lessens in musical activity and both works fade to a quiet ending. Both Synapse and Valentine share similar forms. Each has four sections with each section sharing the same musical characteristics. In addition to the smaller gestures and motives providing a unification between Synapse and Valentine, the gestures combine to delineate larger forms which allow Druckman to create the pair of indivisible works with the same gesture and stance. 3.3. Historical Precedent 3.3.1 G. Watkins Textbook A performer can and should consider the composer's wishes when making the musical decisions for the interpretation of a work. In the continued spirit of historically informed performance, the performer can and should consider the historical view of a piece, as well. A 20th Century Music History book by G. Watkins contains a chapter devoted to the history of electroacoustic music. Synapse and Valentine are situated within the electroacoustic chapter. This chapter discusses the relationship between Synapse and Valentine by stating, "Valentine can be preceded by the only electronic work Druckman ever wrote, a work entitled Synapse, played to an empty stage with a spotlight on the double-bass's chair, the houselights fall and rise to see the chair occupied and Valentine (solo) ensues" . Though the Boosey catalog and New Groves separate Synapse from Valentine, ASCAP lists Synapse and Valentine as a unified work . 3.3.2 Nonesuch Recording Another historical precedent is the recording on the Nonesuch Label that features Alvin Brehm on double bass. Druckman's Animus III is on side one, and Druckman's Synapse and Valentine are on side two. The Nonesuch Record Label pairs Synapse and Valentine as one unified work by giving the inseparable works one unified title. The full title on the historic record is Synapse> Valentine for electronic tape and contrabass, and the work occupies the entire 2nd side of the LP recording. According to Druckman's words on the record jacket, the relationship between acoustic and electric is a sequential, horizontal, and linear juxtaposition between the all-acoustic and the allelectric. Druckman states, "The electronic and the live are juxtaposed but completely separate" . This is the polar opposite of the more standard practice of combining acoustic and electric in the same soundspace at the same time. Or as Druckman states of the Clarinet and the electronics in his Animus III, "they are inextricably combined." In Animus III, the juxtaposition of acoustic and electric is presented the way most compositions that combine tape with performer. The texture is dominated by the vertical and simultaneous combination of acoustic and electric. The Nonesuch recording situates Synapse> Valentine with the electroacoustic tradition and presents it as a unified electroacoustic work . Unfortunately, the record remains out of print and has not been re-released on modern media formats. It can still be found, however,
Page 00000004 in many academic libraries that have preserved their LP collections. 4. CONCLUSIONS Though Jacob Druckman's Synapse> Valentine was conceived as a unified and single electroacoustic work, Synapse is the often omitted and forgotten electronic prelude to Druckman's Valentine. Many of the reasons for its omission are usually related to the logistics of public performance and publication, and these concerns have overridden Druckman's vision for the works. Even though the composer himself could make compromises to his artistic vision, performers have an obligation to seek out the composer's notion of his work in its ideal and pristine state. The pairing also has advantages. There is more variety of sound, and the pairing provides cohesiveness. A performer increases his chances of communicating the form of Synapse> Valentine if the gestures in Synapse are properly mimicked in Valentine. This, in turn, would measure the sections and delineate the form. Ultimately, the reunification of the works in public performance restores Druckman's artistic vision of Synapse> Valentine to the composer's idealized and pristine state, the works would not sound as random, and the listener's experience would be enhanced. 5. REFERENCES  Boosey & Hawkes. 1981. Jacob Druckman, a Complete Catalogue of His Works. New York: Boosey.  Fleming, Shirley. 1972. Musician of the Month: Jacob Druckman. High Fidelity and Musical America, August, 4-5.  Gagne, Cole, and Tracy Caras. 1982. Soundpieces: Interviews with American Composers. Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.  Druckman, Jacob. 1970. Valentine for Solo Contrabass. New York: MCA Music/MCA Inc.  Druckman, Jacob. 1971. Liner note for Jacob Druckman, Synapse -> Valentine. Nonesuch H71253.  Druckman, Jacob. Animus III and Synapse -> Valentine. Arthur Bloom/Alvin Brehm. Nonesuch H-71253.  Leandre, Joelle, bassist. Contrebasse & Voix, by various composers. ADDA 581043.  Porter, Andrew. 1978. Music of Three Seasons: 1974-77. New York: Farrar Strauss Giroux.  "Synapse." 2003. In ASCAP ACE online database. Title Code no. 490309949. Available from http://www. ascap.com/ace/search.  Watkins, G. 1988. Soundings: Music in the 20th Century. New York: Schirmer.  Wolfe, Lawrence, bassist. Works of Schubert, Gliere, Koussevitzky, Perle, and Druckman. Titanic 255.