Choir/Empi's Solo

Program Notes


Larry Polansky

Marie Pauline Esguerra


Choir/Empi's Solo is for solo singer and tape. The tape is made entirely of voice samples of Marie Pauline Esguerra.


This 12-minute piece is based closely on the formal/harmonic idea behind the set of works beginning with Psaltery (1978) by Larry Polansky. Three harmonic series on fundamentals related as 1:3:5(:1) are gradually modulated, or morphed, from one to another. Choir/Empi's Solo is in some sense a computer-composed and realized orchestration of an earlier work, Choir, for voices, from 1978 (itself based on a tape piece called Psaltery (for Lou Harrison) from the same year). A great deal has been changed in this present work, especially with regard to the use of the computer as the compositional engine.


At the four "cadential" moments in the piece (when the harmonic series on E, G#, and B, and E are complete), a number of melodies, whose pitches themselves are drawn from the harmonic series, are available to the live singer.


Choir/Empi's Solo was realized mainly using a compositional program written in C. Csound, Protools and Soundhack were also used in mixing and production. All of the vocal samples, with the exception of the high A, B, and C, and low E's, B, and G#, are unprocessed. Those extreme registral notes are pitch-shifted with a phase vocoder, with some slight additional filtering.


The piece was realized at the Bregman Electronic Music Studios at Dartmouth College, and premiered at the Open Systems Festival, Essen, Germany, 1997.