36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 270: Fantasy on Broken Glass—Finished, yay!


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 270 — Fantasy on Broken Glass—Finished, yay!
28-April-1972 (Freitag–Fri.)


Fantasy rough score 01

Today, my piece is finished. I was so happy that it was. It’s not completely finished because of a few technical (balance) problems and, so now I have to rest a while (suggestion from Prof. Kaufmann) and then finish it up next week. I think it’s not too bad. Not satisified in all places, and Kaufmann, I think, thinks the same. It should be played at our studio concert and also one [concert] in Frankreich. So, anyway, I still have a lot of work to do in finishing up the whole project.

Bad news. Prof. C. didn’t need a hornist, so I don’t go to Innsbruck.


Fantasy finished. Yes, today is a BIG day. I’m also happy, 37 years later. All of the work and the complaining that you, dear reader, had to sit through has not be for naught. My musique concrète composition, Fantasy on Broken Glass, is basically completed today. Yay! It was a lot of work, was my first serious electroacoustic piece of music, and taught me a lot. As I have mentioned, there was an educational purpose to the work as well. The opening photo and photos below are some of the rough page scores. Just a bit more mixing and cleanup to do.

Fantasy rough score 02

Concrète composing. You can see that the nature of recording among several tape recorders leads to a lot of layering and textures—original material on tape 1, play and manipulate sound and record on other recorders, or layer and combine sounds/motifs into new textures on other recorders. It was the nature of composing in the musique concrète genre of the time. However, layering is part the bedrock of all music in all styles—it creates counterpoint, texture, density, interaction of melody, harmony, and rhythms. Composers, naturally compose with layering in process. It is the same as doubling the bass line with the cellos, or adding a guitar track in a recording studio, or laying down Trance music tracks in Garageband on your home computer. Listen to the amazing and subtle interactions or layering that Steve Reich creates in his minimalistic writing.

Writing music, composing, recording in a commercial studio, or for a major film—it’s all fascinating. And, you can do it also.

Fantasy revised. I remember that the original Fantasy was over 20 minutes long. That’s too long for an electronic piece. The work was also programmatic—basically a soundscape of nature/machine sounds telling a story. Later, I revised it to less than half that time, I believe.

Still hoping. I still haven’t heard from the new electroacoustic studio program—Institute of Composition and Electroacoustic Media at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. They were going to try and recover the original tapes for me and digitize them. I am wondering if there are technical and equipment problems. After all, these tapes were 15” reels, 15-ips, and 1/2 track tapes played on very old professional tape machines. It is difficult to find these machines in working order today. Let’s hope for the best. See Day 246.

Teacher appreciation. I really appreciate all that Prof. Kaufmann has done to guide me through this process. Remember, whenever there is a teacher that does a bit more to bring you to a completed goal, new learning, or realization, that teacher was a part of the reason for your success. It’s a good thing to remember. Where would we be without teachers? Not very far.

Concerts to come. I remember that we did have a concert later in the school year (1972), featuring the student works of the electroacoustic music program. I forgot that Prof. Kaufman may have also presented our works in concert to other contemporary venues appropriate to student works. It looks like France. No, I didn’t go. Below, is a third page of the rough score that truly illustrates the layering techniques inherent in musique concrète.

Fantasy rough score 03

No concert. My composition teacher, Prof. C, was apparently going to Innsbruck to put on a concert. It looks like there was no need for a horn player. Could I have met Elisabeth? Probably not.


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