These Are Strange Times is a chronological progression of the composers’ Strange Diversion series. The performance is a real-time composition for two synthesis systems: Ruppenthal performing on Buchla Music Easel & 200 System analog synthesizers and Belet performing using the Kyma digital sound design system. The work is in five sections: Introduction, Swirling Scherzo, Interlude, Cut-ups and Reconstructions, and Fragmentation Finale. The work navigates a course of instrumental call/response, integration and re-integration, as sonic objects/motifs are passed back and forth between composer/performer to be considered, processed, re-processed, and formed into a real-time concert of electro-acoustic sound. While each instrument creates its own soundscape, both accept the output of the other as input for additional processing. The two become four: Buchla, Kyma, Buchla processed by Kyma, and Kyma processed by Buchla. The two performers improvise within a pre-composed gesture and time structures, adapting to each other and the sounds they hear. Aspects of unpredictability are built into the Buchla patches and Kyma algorithms, and both performers are able to further shape the soundscape via real-time controls of the instruments. Voices are introduced in a homage to the composers’ Tessellation Rag (2012), being treated and manipulated, fragmented and re-constituted adding a dimensionality of text-sound composition to the overall thrust of the work. The composition’s title is a memorial to our era of Covid-19, and an homage to composer Allen Strange (1943-2008), a colleague to both composers.
Stephen Ruppenthal resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, and performs as co-Principal Trumpet with the Redwood Symphony, and with the SoundProof ensemble using trumpet, flugelhorn, and Buchla electronic music instruments. Stephen’s current CD on PARMA Recordings, Flamethrower features world premiere recordings of electroacoustic compositions for trumpet/flugelhorn and interactive electronics by Allen Strange, Brian Belet, Bruno Liberda, and Elainie Lillios.