I Am Sitting In A Room
In college, I wrote down classical music, neoclassical music. I went to Europe on a Fulbright, I came back. I didn’t know what to do. I was stuck. I didn’t want to make serial music.1 And I discovered alpha, a scientist friend suggested I use his alpha wave amplifier to make a piece of some kind. And I did. Because I was stuck. I didn’t have any other ideas at that time. This is in 1965. So, I worked experientially with his device until I discovered I could produce alpha pretty reliably.
And the piece I made had percussion. I’d been a percussionist before. This is really my only instrument actually. So, it was very natural for me to use brain waves to resonate a whole battery of percussion, percussion in kind of — people say well, aren’t you interested in other waves, theta waves? No, I make a piece of music and then that’s it. I’m not terribly interested in the deeper aspects of the scientific side of it. I think often composers who you read about, who use very complex scientific, mathematical procedures. That’s what they are interested in.2
I’m more interested in the resonance of the — in that piece of percussion instruments, then to make a live piece of electronic work. The same man that lent me his brain wave amplifier, I met him in the hallway one day. He was a scientist, a wonderful guy. He said, you know I was at MIT the other night, and this professor Bose was explaining his new wave system. Bose, who developed those beautiful loudspeakers. And all he did was, he said he would recycle sounds back through his loudspeakers to test them, to see it they were flat enough. That’s all he said to me. He didn’t say anything else. Just that kernel of an idea that maybe I could try to make some sounds and then recycle them through the speakers.
But then the room would be the — the sounds would come through the room again and again. So, I got the idea from that casual encounter with this guy, that’s all. And I made that piece, and one night I sat in this room, and I wrote out the text. It took me only 15 minutes. I wrote out that text and that’s how that piece came to being. Sometimes you’re not exactly sure about everything that you’re doing. And that’s a wonderful way to do things. Because something else is operating this — you know what I mean, I didn’t spend time writing out a fancy text or using poetry or anything. I just simply did it as a — as it is a statement of what I was doing. And the piece kind of made itself.