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with John Adams, conductor and Foster Reed, Mandolin; brass sextet, fog horns & other ambient sounds; synthesizer, mandolin, voice, gambuh, piano, electronics, tape delay
This is an extraordinarily mellow piece ... a seemingly vast three-dimensional expanse ... sober and reflective.
The genesis of "Fog Tropes" is as follows: In 1979, performance artist, Grace Ferguson, asked me to prepare a "soundscore" for her piece, "Don't Sue the Weatherman." I went around the San Francisco Bay and recorded a number of different fog horns. A kind of tape collage resulted, using not only fog horns but other sea sounds, falsetto keenings and gambuh (a Balinese flute). Much electronic processing and tape manipulation were visited upon the raw sounds.
I extracted part of the score, calling it simply "Fog", and began playing it as a tape piece before "Gradual Requiem". The idea of adding brass music as an overlay - or a trope, if you will - came when John Adams invited me to perform at the San Francisco Symphony's "New and Unusual" concert series. He suggested that "Fog" might benefit from some "live" horns.
So, I composed the new version in January, 1982, employing some of the harmonic ideas of "Gradual Requiem" (e.g., ascending minor triads) and it was premiered at the Japan Center Theater on February 18th with members of the San Francisco New Music Ensemble, John Adams conducting. It has since enjoyed performances by other brass groups and seems to have become one of my most popular pieces.
A lot of people are reminded of San Francisco when they hear this piece, but not I. To me it is just about fog, and being lost in the fog. The brass players should sound as if they were off in a raft floating in the middle of a mist-enshrouded bay.
1. Fog Tropes 9:50
7. Gambuh I 17:15
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