Top 3 of my latest flute and electronics discoveries (with links to scores)

Sçir | Horracio Vaggione

for Bass Flute and tape, 1988

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Horracio Vaggione is an Argentinian composer and music theorist. Born in 1943, he studied and worked in Argentina, USA, where he first got interested in computers and electronics, then in Spain and France, where he still resides. From 1987 to 1988 he did a residence in Berlin, where he composed Sçir.

I love this piece because it uses quite common extended techniques to produce gentle pitch-less sounds in the low register but still with great movement and energy. It also feels very nice to hear, almost an ear massage. You can hear tongue-rams, key clicks, aspiration and suction sounds, whistle tones, most of the time with different effects, including different sorts of reverb and delay, and what I believe to be some field recording.

Here is the recording on Youtube by Beate-Gabriela Schmitt on bass flute, the german flutist who released « Flöte und Computer » and « Flöte und Computer 2« . This track is part of the Album Zeitenwenchsel, Edition RZ, Berlin.

The score is not edited.

Read more about Horacio Vaggione’s life : https://www.fondation-langlois.org/html/f/page.php?NumPage=560

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Liminal Highway | Christopher Cerrone

for Flute and Electronics, 2016

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The piece is articulated in five movements with beautiful and very suggestive names:

When you fall asleep in transit / A dream you don’t recall / Between consciousness and sleep / Liminal / Suddenly it is needed

The five movements are forming an arch form: the music evolves progressively towards the middle and then goes back again, first movement echoing with the fifth movement, and second movement echoing with forth movement.

It’s introduced with flutter tongued pitches on piccolo and then on concert flute, creating a very gentle harmony, evolving towards a very obsessive pattern with rhythmic key clicks on the flute with a very wet and long reverb. The obsessive part is underlined with slaps, breath sounds, and harmonic swipes.

In the middle we are between gentle and obsessive: Technically speaking, we are evolving between very soft and enveloping multiphonics and very high and strong harmonics

Because the end is mirroring the beginning, it is also played on piccolo with flutter tongue, but with the reverb of the previous parts interfering. We add the flute, and we end with even more enveloping low sounds of bottles

The physicality of 2nd and 4th moments makes it very moving : even if the effect could have been easily recorded and looped with pedal, it’s made live until the new effect arrives and I have to say it almost hurts to see the flutist use these normally not so strong fingers for such a long time…And in the 4th movement I feel the physicality even more, because of the breath that one has to take between the slaps, giving almost a suffocating feeling.

Here a link to the live performance by Tim Munro at the Metropolis Ensemble Space, in 2017. You can read more about the composer and the piece in the description of the video.

link to score : https://www.eamdc.com/psny/composers/christopher-cerrone/works/liminal-highway/

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Luciform | Mario Diaz De Leon

for Flute and Electronics, 2011

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Mario Diaz de Leon is a composer and performer residing in NY, whose work encompasses modern classical music, experimental electronic music, extreme metal, and creative improvised music.

At first I didn’t especially fell in love with this piece, it seemed too minimalist, cold, filled with dusty electronic sounds right from the 80’s.

But after listening to Claire Chase’s performance it really took me on a trip. This is the kind of piece that displays the flutist’s aura. Apart from some synchronized rapid soli, the rest is mainly about stage presence and charisma. For me it’s really like if an old school metal band played on stage with the flute.

Here a link to the excellent live performance by Claire Chase at the Hideout, Chicago, in 2014.

link to score : https://www.eamdc.com/psny/composers/mario-diaz-de-leon/works/luciform/