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Merrill Ellis - Mutations (1972)

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Published on Oct 30, 2013

Performance Sunday, Oct. 6 at UNT CEMIcircles Festival of Experimental Music and Intermedia.

Daniel Wilson, trumpet; Michael Gause, trumpet; David Potter, horn; Rick Blake, trombone; Adam Koble, tuba; William Scharnberg, conductor; Tim Harenda, film/slide projectionist; 2-channel electroacoustic music with video projection

In the composer's words, "Mutations is tightly organized, is designed to achieve a somewhat random overall effect and begins as a conventional concert piece. Gradually a metamorphosis takes place during which the audience is totally surrounded by sound and by light images." It also may be performed in a shorter version without the projections.

The published score included technical and performance notes for the tape recorder and lighting operators and the film and slide projectionists as well as "a 7 ½ ips, two-track, stereo electronic tape; a 16 mm colored film and a set of six 35 mm slides." The UNT Music Library has carefully preserved these materials, and for this performance the tape and film have been transferred to digital media; CEMI is indebted to Andrew Justice for coordinating the restoration and transfer.

The slides will be performed in the manner indicated by the composer; the performance notes make it very clear that by 1972 a performance practice for slide projection had evolved, and Merrill Ellis wrote idiomatically for this visual "instrument." The fan may be a bit noisy by modern standards; those yearning for historical re-enactment should imagine the sounds of a 16 mm projector and an open reel tape transport as well.

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