The human voice with electric guitars..

I have some experience composing for voice having written and conducted (yes, you read right..conducted)  two a cappella pieces – one for sextet (S, MS, A, T, BAR, B) and a piece for three sopranos. I also wrote a piece for soprano and string quartet a while back that I’ve never heard performed. I have been tempted to realize that piece, but it’s just not a priority now…I am still curious though.

The aforementioned compositions date back to late 1998 and 2002 and are quite different from my electroacoustic music since 2006.

So, I’m a big fan of voice in all contexts and I still enjoy listening to music that features voice.  The first musical sounds I can distinctly remember are those of my father singing with an acoustic guitar.

Interestingly enough, with all my classical education, I’ve never been a big fan of classical opera. I can get into some Mozart and that’s about it.

Anyway, an important moment for me creatively was when I first introduced voice in my electroacoustic music. My composition, Karmicom (2005) is a sort of virtual duet of multitracked electric guitars with the voice of my wife, Kimberly Fiedelman.  It is also the only piece where you can briefly hear my speaking voice at the very end and the only piece on my debut compilation, Electroacoustic Compositions for Electric Guitar, that includes another instrument outside of electric guitar and electric bass.

Listening back, I feel Karmicom was one of my more imaginative/unusual/humorous pieces. It stands out from my other work in that regard. Brief heavy guitar riffs with serene voices and mock opera bits. Prepared and bowed guitars mixed in with some heavy metal choke harmonics, etc., etc…And there is one section that consists of only multitracked voices.  Looking at this piece objectively, I realize it is somewhat schizophrenic, but it represents a slightly different time and it still works for me.

I’ve known people who love this piece and some just don’t get it.. Of course, the audience for this type of music is relatively small, so most people are not going to get it as music alone.  Anyway, this is a topic for another day..  I remember how one reviewer wrote how the piece started off great and then became just awful….:)  The website with that review no longer exists.

Karmicom is an anagram for____________________. Only two people have ever figured it out (without me even asking too..)

Another piece I would like to talk about is the four movement, Renewal (can be heard on The Ominous Corner). This piece was composed in 2006 and features voice (once again, by my wife Kim). By this time I was working with sounds outside of guitar, so the sonic palette is larger..

Voice occurs throughout the whole piece. Renewal I (Introduction) opens with voice. The primary movements that feature voice would be Renewal II (Interlude) and Renewal IV (Finale). The text for mvt. II comes from two specific sources: a text written by me and random lines plucked from the horoscope section of a daily NYC newspaper (either the Daily News or The Post). In mvt. II,  I was trying to depict the “chatterbox” state of the human mind with brief moments of clarity in texture and meaning. I cut up the various text and created new phrases by combining phrases from the two different sources – a kind of deconstruction.   Mvt. IV consists of vocal themes already heard and presents them in a more joyful, playful,  frenetic and sometimes contemplative light.

This movement is followed by a movement with some of my more lyrical electric guitar playing, Renewal III – “Let’s start again…”:

To hear all of Renewal (recommended) go here:

Here’s a video that features excerpts of the piece from a performance in 2006:

Renewal excerpts (live 2006)

Other pieces of mine that feature female voice (all Kim) are Solitary Pathways (a kind of a distant relative to Karmicom), The Ominous Corner and Mechanical Uprising. Check them out.