” Electronic music is often treated in society as a prostitute,” wrote a prominent American composer. “It is regarded as selling art and culture to satisfy a desire or whim.”
There is a curious attitude that electronic music or music for tape is a sort of random selection of hum, wow and flutter, wobbles, hissing kettles, door bells, electronic alarms and bleepers and that it is all synthetic and inane just as a piece of modern art might be a one-coloured sheet of paper bearing an imprint of a bicycle riding across it once. That is not art for it involves no skill. Electronically acoustic music attracts that attitude. It is not music but electric current and knobs!
But here on this interesting disc we have four works for tape each lasting about sixteen minutes and they should be listened to as any other music. I hesitate to compare them with symphonic poems for that implies programme music and a narrative. What the audience will find is that most of the music is orchestral in sound or like a cathedral organ with a wide registration. Only occasionally do ‘pure’ electronic sounds appear, that is to say, sounds that cannot be produced by any orchestral instrument.
In these four pieces we have a splendid range of features of classical music: we have a ‘toccata’, a splendid ‘adagio’ with some beautiful music; we have frenetic excitement and remarkable effects. And it is not random guesswork or indiscriminate improvisation. There is clear planning and a logical coherence in this music.
Ric Graebner is of Anglo-Austrian stock and has written a Symphony, three string quartets, Thalia for two pianos, a Piano Trio, works for voice and ensemble and many other things. I found him an engaging personality, a courteous speaker and a true musician.
I recommend this disc to introduce people to music for tape. I am sure that the majority will find much to enjoy. The recording is excellent .