Eric Richards: The Bells Themselves


the bells themselves

Few composers today explore so poetic and visionary a musical landscape as does Eric Richards. Residing primarily in New York City, Richards has been composing, in his own unassuming way, for more than forty years. The works included on this recording span the latter half of that time period (roughly 1983–2003). These mysterious and magical works spring from a personal aesthetic that is completely American.

Eric Richards was born in 1935 and raised in New York City. He came of age in Manhattan in the 1950s, a time when the city was establishing itself as the center of the art world. The spirit of adventure that characterized this time period has been a vital part of Richards’s music up to the present day. He briefly attended the Oberlin Conservatory, where he began his musical studies. While at Oberlin he had a unique opportunity to assist and observe Buckminster Fuller in the building of a geodesic dome—an experience that would greatly influence Richards’s future compositional thought.

He later attended and was graduated from the Mannes College of Music in New York City. Although Richards studied composition briefly with the American composer William Sydeman, he is for the most part self-taught. While at Mannes, he studied Schenkerian analysis with some of its most recognized theorists, including Felix Salzer and Carl Schachter. It was the multidimensional graphic nature of Schenkerian analysis that most interested Richards, particularly its focus on various interrelated levels of musical activity that operate on different time planes. The influence can be seen in Richards’s own innovative notational forms. He subsequently did graduate work in music at New York University with the noted musicologist Gustave Reese.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s Richards was on the music theory faculty at Mannes College and it was there, as a student in one of his classes, that I first met him. For as long as I have known him, he has lived in the same small apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Richards currently divides his time between New York City and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Although he never formally returned to teaching after his time at Mannes, both his music and his thinking continue to have significant influence on a diverse group of younger American composers, including myself. He began receiving performances of his music in the late 1960s, working closely with selected individual performers. His music and his thinking have steadily evolved from that time forward. That his music has largely eluded widespread public knowledge is not surprising, given its nature—one that cannot readily be pigeonholed into trends or stylistic categories. Understanding and admiration of his work have come slowly, but what has always mattered most to Eric Richards is the work itself and his passion for sound.

He creates his unique musical landscape by way of initial close study of the individual instrumental sonority. This often begins with repeated listening to various prerecorded instrumental fragments. He subjects the instrumental sound to microscopic analysis—a process of distillation—through which he extracts the essence of the instrumental sonority. Richards creates his sound world from a collage of musical fragments, saturating the musical time canvas with various nuances and shades of instrumental color. Through the juxtaposition and superimposition of different facets of the same instrumental material (in different tempi, played backwards, in different patterns of repetition, and at various levels of transposition), he creates a multilayered composite sonority—one single enlarged and magnified instrumental entity. His
approach is not unlike the technique of assemblage practiced by the surrealist painters. Indeed, there is an aspect of surrealism, and surrealistic strangeness, in his ability to “transform” reality—in this case the instrumental sonority—and elevate it into the realm of the unexpected.

In his willingness to experiment with sound for its own sake, without constraint by accepted formal or technical procedures, and in his invention of new rhythmic and textural effects as well as his innovations in musical notation, which parallel the originality of his musical ideas, Eric Richards is an important extension of the American Experimentalist tradition—one that includes the composers Henry Cowell, John Cage, Morton Feldman, and James Tenney. Like all American experimentalists, in the tradition of Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers and Henry Ford, he is a “tinkerer” at heart, and, like most tinkerers, he is willing to submit to chance and the possibility of good luck. A common metamorphosis in Richards’s compositional process occurs when some element of chance is compositionally followed through, becoming a fixed element in the final composed-out score.

The majority of compositions on this recording exhibit timbral saturation and, as such, emanate from a single instrumental sound source (11 oboes, 72 clarinets, 5 voices, 3 pianos). A single performer using multi-track recording techniques is featured on each of the individual compositions. Many of these compositions depict different perspectives, facets, and planes of instrumental sound as they simultaneously evolve in different time planes. This is manifested in the simultaneous layering of contrasting and often unrelated dimensions of time and memory within a single composition. When one is listening to Richards’s music, one often has the sense of being dislocated in time.

His compositional influences are vast—and simply too numerous and wide-ranging to catalogue here. His works are filled with references (both explicit and hidden) to those interests and influences—in particular, bell sounds. One of his first compositions to allude to the sound of bells is though under medium…. (1979), for twelve-part a cappella chorus, including portions of texts by Emily Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Three of the works included on this CD, as well as the title of the collection itself, make specific reference to the composer’s fascination and continued involvement with bell sounds (Tibetan bells, wind chimes, steeple bells, clock chimes, cowbells). The ringing of a bell carries a rich assortment of meanings and associations and it is a sound with an abundant field of acoustic properties. It is also a sound that has fascinated a diverse array of composers, including Maurice Ravel, Edgard Varèse, and Ärvo Part.


How still the bells in steeples stand.

Till, swollen with the sky,

They leap upon their silver feet

In frantic melody!

Emily Dickinson


finalbells (2002–04), is an incantation of mourning. A brief summary of the way in which this piece was composed provides some insight into the composer’s working process.

Playing a conventional percussion instrument in a nontraditional manner—that is, by rubbing a cowbell with a rubber Super Ball—is the means by which the sound material of this piece was generated. When Richards first heard thesesounds, with their unique combination of overtones, he was immediately moved by the way in which they seemed to evoke some form of ghostly cry from the underworld. He was also struck by the way in which the overtones, produced by the Super Ball rubbing the cowbell, seemed to have little or no relation to the cowbell’s original fundamental pitch.

Limiting himself to a small number of cowbells, Richards composed short melodic fragments whose fundamental pitches produced the sounds that most interested him. Having noticed that the pitches to these melodic fragments echoed, in some mysterious way, the pitches of Schubert’s song Der Doppelgänger (The Double), he selected three additional songs from Schubert’s posthumous collection of songs, Schwanengesang (Swan Song): Liebesbotschaft (Message of Love), Der Atlas (The Atlas), and Schubert’s last composition Die Taubenpost (Pigeon Post). In addition to the four songs by Schubert, Richards selected the opening measures of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden and the introduction to Sir Edward Elgar’s First Symphony. Using sixteen individually tuned Swiss cowbells, the percussionist played only the pitches of each melody or musical excerpt from beginning to end, freely rubbing each cowbell for a number of seconds. The sounds produced from the individual melodies were each individually recorded. After listening repeatedly to the recorded sounds, composites of the different lines were overdubbed in the recording studio to form vertical sonorities. Using various canonic and masking techniques, whose proportions are based on the Fibonacci series, the individual tracks (of which there are up to sixteen) move in and out of the musical surface.

In addition to the recorded electro-acoustic version of the piece, included on this CD, there is another live performance version of finalbells. The live version includes an obbligato percussion part (closing with a quote from the second movement of Schubert’s String Trio in E flat, D. 929) that plays along with the prerecorded version of the piece. The piece was written for, and in close collaboration with, the percussionist Alan Zimmerman. Speaking for myself, I can think of no musical composition since Henry Cowell’s The Banshee that more hauntingly evokes the image of mournful cries of the dead than does finalbells.

time’s racing (but measured by what we do) (2000), is composed for both traditional and nontraditional percussion instruments. There are two of each instrument: two vibraphones, two African metal gyils (a relative of the marimba and xylophone), and two crotales (or Tibetan tingsha). Two percussionists, with each performer playing one of the paired instruments, may perform the piece. The piece may also be performed as a solo, with the second part (Gyil 2, Vibraphone 2, and Crotale 2) prerecorded, and Part 1 performed simultaneously with the playback of the second part. The piece was written for, and in collaboration with, the percussionist Kay Stonefelt. She first performed it with recorded accompaniment. As the work unfolds, the paired instruments echo each other in different ways and at varying time intervals. Unlike the vibraphone, the pitches of the gyil are not tuned in equal temperament. The combination of the two different tuning systems produces fascinating results.

This is especially true in those moments of the piece when identical repeated pitches on both the vibraphone and the gyil echo each other. The composer describes the overall effect of the piece as “a sort of composed-out web of different reverberations or ‘echo of echoes.’” The piece alternates between passages of strictly notated interplay between the instruments and freer, more arrhythmic, passages of music that are indeterminately notated. The sections of indeterminately notated music were inspired by the sound of tubular wind chimes as they blow in the breeze. The pitches for these freer sections were chosen from a combination of various Broadway show tunes.

The title of the piece is drawn from the lyrics to two of these show tunes: “I measure time by what we do,” from Rodgers and Hart’s The Shortest Day of the Year, and “time is racing,” from Leonard Bernstein’s Some Other Time. The piece signifies an attempt to capture or hold on to that which is transient and ephemeral in our lives .My Great-aunt Julia (1993) is a ballad. It is scored for unaccompanied bass-baritone voice. Like many contemporary American ballads (one thinks of the ballads of Bob Dylan) My Great-aunt Julia partakes in a well-established tradition of personal myth-making. The composer writes: “The Gypsies who stole my great-aunt Julia were most likely Romnichel horse traders who emigrated from England in the 1850s and settled into the more remote reaches of Pennsylvania.” The piece requires that the baritone voice move seamlessly between natural voice and head tone, melding together the independent registral components of the polyphonically conceived composite line. The different vocal registers represent different points in time. In the composer’s words, “the baritone voice must create a pattern of dark and light, image and echo (and even pre-echoes) that connect the past (late nineteenth-century Ohio), the present (the narrator), and yet another time dimension (the future that is now past).” According to the composer, the idea for this composition originally came to him in a dream (as do many ideas for his pieces), and there is something dream-like (or myth-like) in the way the composer telescopes time present, time past, and time future into a single moment in My Great-aunt Julia.

Conch Music (1983–84), is scored for oboe(s) in 11 parts and seven speaker systems. It was written for, and in close collaboration with the oboist Paul Schiavo. “I wanted a rich, homogeneous sound,” writes the composer,“as if emanating from one large, almost sculptural oboe or seashell of some kind (hence the title Conch Music).” Once again, the superimposition of similar musical material, in different tempi, forms the basic constructive principal behind Conch Music. Using a variable-speed cassette deck, the composer compared identical musical fragments (oboe multiphonics) at different tempi. He then notated two copies of the same musical material—one on paper and one on rubber—and, stretching the latter, superimposed the former onto the latter.

Conch Music is spatially conceived, and the composer envisages the ideal performance space as some type of shell-likesculptural environment from which the sound could expand out from a central core. The piece is in five sections and consists entirely of sustained oboe sounds (both single pitches and oboe multiphonics). Each section begins with the initial oboe sonority as a “point of imitation,” and unfolds (like the spiral patterning of a seashell) at a slightly different speed. The growth or diminution of the superimposition of musical material is based on the Fibonacci series. As the piece unfolds, corresponding elements of superimposed material get closer to each other until they almost coincide. In a similar way, the pitches in the piece gradually come closer together through microtonal inflections.

Approximately halfway through Conch Music (ca. 5') the oboe repeats three pitches (C#, D, and E) in bell-like fashion.(These pitches are the same pitches as those of the three Tibetan bells (tingsha) that form the basis of Richards’s bell piece the bells themselves (and my memory of the bells) [1998]).harte’s bels (2001) is a setting of the poem Recitative by the American poet Hart Crane (1899–1932), taken from Crane’s
collection of poems titled White Buildings. It is scored for solo voice of any range (on this recording sung by a bass baritone)in five parts. Using an arcane form of English spelling, the title of the composition employs Joycean word substitution(“heart’s bells”).

Crane wanted his reader to imagine the poet on a platform reciting the poem (“Reciting pain or glee”), hence the poem’s title Recitative. The poet’s desire for unity, in the face of the dualism of both the self and humanity, is the subject of the poem. The language and imagery of Crane’s poem is a veritable hall of mirrors. The solo voice is divided among five parts that at times overlap and echo each other in bell-like fashion. Although the melodic line is divided into melodic fragments that are distributed among the five voices, the composer intends for the piece to be heard as one long continuous line. The principal melodic/harmonic motive of the piece is comprised of the interval of the major ninth (an interval that frequently occurs in Richards’s music) divided by two tritones that are mirrored, symmetrically, around an axis pitch (C – F# (G) G#D). In the end it is the ringing of bells, in the final stanza of the poem, which offers a promise of unity and acts as a symbol for the unifying vision of the archetypal artist.

Both Crane and Richards believe in Orphic enchantments. That is to say, they believe in the power of art to unite both the divided world and the divided self, and they invite us to listen for the sound of wholeness in the creative imagination. The Bells Themselves: Jonathan Edwards and the American Songbook (1997–99), is scored for three pianos and may be performed live as a concert piece or, as on this recording, by a single pianist performing and overdubbing all three parts. The harmonic/melodic material for the piece is derived entirely from a wide variety of American show tunes, including the music of composers George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers, Harry Warren, Harold Arlen, and Hoagy Carmichael. These show tunes are the foundation from which the fabric of the piece is woven. The practice of constructing a piece from vernacular music has been adapted by a wide variety of composers—from the Renaissance parody mass to the music of Charles Ives (for example, Putnam’s Camp from Three Places in New England). Unlike Ives,however, Richards’s approach to the superimposition of the various show tune fragments is never obvious, and it is only toward the end of the composition that isolated melodic fragments begin to make themselves known. Jonathan Edwards was an eighteenth-century Puritan preacher (in addition to being the third president of Princeton University) known for his hellfire and brimstone revivalist sermons. His most well-known sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” describes God holding man over the flames of hell in the way that one would hold a spider over a candle.

In The Bells Themselves: Jonathan Edwards and the American Songbook, the composer weaves the various tunes of his musical fabric together just as a spider weaves a web. The densely textured piano chords echo the insistent cacophonous sound of clanging church steeple bells. The many overlapping piano chords (or bells) with their overlapping partials (moving,converging, combining) result in an extraordinary permutation of sounds. The final passage is heard as a distant echo of the preceding measures, which the composer notes must be performed,like that of the dense sustained texture of the rest of the piecea matter of life and death: surely if the performer(s) fail, they will be released from the hands of God and fall into the fiery pit.”

Chicken Pull (1989–92), was written for and in collaboration with the clarinetist Molly Paccione. It is scored for 72 clarinet parts and four whistlers. The title is derived from a late winter ceremony at the Keres pueblo of Santo Domingo in northcentral New Mexico. The basic material for the piece derives from tape recordings of ten-to-fifteen-second blues introductions that were played in reverse at much slower speeds, and subsequently notated by the composer. The original blues recordings were made in the 1930s. The performers included John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson (harmonica), Big Joe Williams, Robert Nighthawk, Henry Townsend (guitars), and Yank Rachel (mandolin). “When heard backwards,”writes the composer, “one ends up with material utterly different in every possible way from the originalwith harmonica, guitar, mandolin, bass and vocal all fusing together to sound like one giant alien harmonica.” The superimposition and juxtaposition of chains of very similar blues fragments, played on the clarinet, result in a shifting texture of sound and silence that often calls to mind the sound of train whistles that lie at the base of so much country blues harmonica playing. The whistling sounds in the coda are reminiscent of bird sounds (or was it the wind?) that the composer heard while hiking down Prospect Mountain, overlooking New York’s Lake George, early one summer morning (the whistler is the composer).Those who are willing to be vulnerable move among mysteries.

Theodore Roethke


Upon reflection, the magic and mystery of Eric Richards’s compositions bring to mind the shadow-boxes of another American original, the artist Joseph Cornell. The work of both is a depository of memories, dreams, visions, emotions,influences, and obsessions. Both Cornell and Richards look at the familiar (Cornell: everyday objects; Richards: traditional instruments and vernacular music) in a new and transformative way. Not unlike the assembled objects of Cornell,Richards’s work often consists of an assemblage of found sound objects—the things he loves (Schubert lieder, show tunes,the blues, the music of Elgar)—all of which contain some element of nostalgia. Modest in size, the works of both are self enclosed worlds that are lyric reveries on time and space.  Cornell typically applied eighteen or twenty coats of paint or varnish to his boxes in order to achieve the desired density.

This is interestingly similar to Richards’s superimposed layer-upon-layer of instrumental sound, which creates a rich,unusually dense, musical texture. Both Richards’s sketchbooks and Cornell’s dossiers reveal the obsessive intensity with which these two true New Yorkers follow their vision. In the end, their quest for the ephemeral and the ethereal is a voyage of the heart. What the poet Charles Simic observed of both Joseph Cornell and Emily Dickinson could be said equally well of EricRichards: “Voyagers and explorers of their own solitudes, they make them vast, make them cosmic.”

Paul Paccione


Paul Paccione is a composer. He is a Professor of Music Composition/Theory at Western Illinois University, and co-director/co-founder of its annual New Music Festival, which is now in its twenty-first year. His compositions are available from Frog Peak Music (


Composer’s note


I try to approach each piece freshly as if it were a self-sufficient world unto itself—or at least an interesting “slice” of that universe. I let the imaginative possibilities of the instrument or other sound-producing source in question determine the special sound, tuning, structure, and individual notation of the piece. For a solo piece this may mean creating the illusion of jumping back-and-forth from one simultaneously occurring part to another, almost at random, much like a pianist frantically grabbing at notes from different instrumental staves while trying to make sense out of a complicated orchestral score. This is particularly true of such earlier pieces of mine as The Great Bass, written in 1972 for the violinist Linda Cummiskey and a percussion piece, The Discourse of Insects, from the same time (1971), although some relatively recent pieces of mine such as The Unraveling of the Field (1988) and My Great-aunt Julia use the same technique. As I gradually turned to larger and larger forces in subsequent pieces (usually ensembles of the same instruments overdubbed in the recording studio) I tried to maintain the unpredictable—and sometimes “funky”—character of the solo pieces by actuallycomposing out”—and notating—acoustic phenomena such as beatings, echoes, and reverberation that are usually just taken for granted as unplanned byproducts of live performances. Among these pieces were The Consent of Sound and Meaning for 10 double basses and 7 trumpets, written for the trumpeter Frank Hosticka and bassist Michael Willens, and two pieces on this CD, Conch Music and Chicken Pull. Notation itself has always assumed special importance for me:

Unconventional sounds—and the unconventional physical actions called upon to produce those sounds-demand unconventional notation. Particularly pertinent here is the inherent contradiction in notating experimental music: Do you notate what you want the instrumentalist or singer to perform or what you want the audience to actually hear! These contradictions are at the heart of such pieces of mine as finalbells and the bells themselves (and my memory of the bells), a piece for three Tibetan tingsha (bells), recorded at the Amherst home of Conor Dowling, and whose title supplied the inspiration for the title of this CD.


Eric Richards taught for many years at the Mannes College of Music, now part of The New School (New York City),and has been a guest composer and/or lecturer at such schools as Mills College and Western Illinois University. From1972–75 he was music director of Video Verité (N.Y.C), and between 1980 and 1985 he was music adviser to the innovative Jean Cocteau Repertory Theatre in New York, where he collaborated with the Soviet playwright Edvard Radzinsky and director Eve Adamson on several productions. Performances of his work include evenings dedicated to his music at such New York performance spaces as The Kitchen and Lotus Music and Dance as well as sound installations at THE LAND—an art site in Mountainair, New Mexico, and at The Visual Arts Gallery of Adirondack Community College, where his music was part of an exhibition of his music scores and sketches (other exhibitions of his notation have included the Mabel Smith Douglas Library at Rutgers University and New Music America in Houston). He has been a MacDowell Colony Fellow (1978, ’80, ’81) and a Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Fellow (1982, ’84, ’86, ’87), and has been a recipient of Meet the Composer and Ford Foundation Recording grants. He has written articles on the arts for Taos Magazine and The American Book Review, and was a contributing author to Bernstein Remembered (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1991). He is currently collaborating with Carmen Tellez, director of the Aguava New Music Ensemble, on a commission by the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College for an extended new vocal and instrumental work to be performed at the end of a week-long residency in February 2008. (Ms. Tellez, who is a professor of choral conducting at Indiana University, has performed several of Richards’s choral pieces with her Contemporary Music Ensemble at IU in recent years, including though under medium. . . in 2004 and After Sound, Light and Heat, Memory, Will, and Understanding in 2006.)


David Keck, a native of Vermont, began his vocal study as a boy soprano in Britten’s Noyes Fludde, and has since explored many fields of vocal performance, from musical theater and opera to song recital and contemporary vocal performance art. Mr. Keck recently made his debut with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (La Traviata) and Sarasota Opera (Madame Butterfly) while he was an apprentice in both programs. He has also recently been seen as Superintendent Budd in Albert Herring with the Aspen Theater Center, and Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte at The Juilliard School. Past roles have included Ercole in Cavalli’s Giasone, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, and Somnus in Handel’s Semele. Mr. Keck received his Bachelor of Arts degree at Columbia College in English and Comparative Literature, and followed this with diploma studies at The Juilliard School.


Paul Marquardt is a composer and pianist. He attended Baltimore County public schools and has received degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Illinois. As a pianist he was one half of the THUMP Piano Duo along with Drew Krause. As a composer, he has received awards from ASCAP and BMI. His musical influences include world music, jazz, and classical music as well as ideas from mathematics and Buddhist symbolism. He currently lives in Florida with his wife Ruxandra, a violinist, and his daughter, Marianna. He is currently working on a series of live computer-generated works.


Molly Paccione received degrees from Northwestern University (B.M.), the University of California, San Diego (M.A.),and the University of Iowa (D.M.A.). She studied clarinet with Jerome Stowell of the Chicago Symphony and Leon Russianoff, the noted New York clarinet pedagogue. She has also been coached in solo and chamber music performance by Rafael Druian, the former concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell. She is principal clarinet with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra and has also performed with the Milwaukee Symphony, the San Diego Symphony,the San Diego Opera Orchestra, the California Ballet Orchestra, the New Hampshire Music Festival, and the Pine Mountain Festival. She has performed new music extensively and premiered numerous new works, many of which were written for her, with resident ensembles at Northwestern and the University of California, San Diego, as well as the Center for New Music at the University of Iowa and the annual New Music Festival at Western Illinois University.


Gregory Purnhagen, baritone, enjoys an extremely versatile career performing music from the thirteenth to the twenty first centuries. He created the role of Avenant and la Bête for the world premiere of La Belle et la Bête (1994), one of many Philip Glass works he has appeared in including Galileo Galilei, Einstein on the Beach, Monsters of Grace, and Hydrogen Jukebox. He has produced several critically acclaimed jazz/cabaret evenings, most recently Something in Your Smile at Helen’s (NYC)and Rendezvous at Feinstein’s (NYC). Stage roles include Bob in Nicholas Brooke’s Tone Test (Lincoln Center Festival) and Joshua Crouch in David Lang’s work-in-progress Anatomy Theater, as well as roles in operas composed by Anthony Braxton,Fred Ho, and Michael Kowalski. Recently, he had a featured role in Jonathan Miller’s staged St. Matthew Passion at BAM and has appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Early Music New York, and the Dessoff Choirs. Among his numerous commercial recordings, he is especially proud to have contributed guest vocals on Bjork’s CD,Medulla.


Paul Schiavo studied oboe with Jerome Roth and, subsequently, with Ronald Roseman at the Mannes College of Music. He was active in performing contemporary music at the University of Iowa and played with the Berkeley Symphony, the California Bach Society, and other ensembles in the San Francisco area. In addition to his activities as a performer, he is a prolific writer on music. His essays have appeared in Seattle Opera magazine, the program books of Lincoln Center and other publications, and he has served as a program annotator for Lincoln Center and several American orchestras.


Kay Stonefelt is a Professor of Music and Chair of Percussion Studies at SUNY Fredonia. In addition to teaching, Ms.Stonefelt is a timpanist with the WNY Chamber Orchestra and percussionist/hammered-dulcimer player with Fioretto,an early music ensemble based in Finland. She holds degrees from Baldwin-Wallace College (B.M.), the Peabody Conservatory (M.M.), and Indiana University (D.M.). Her major percussion studies were with Cloyd Duff and George Gaber. She has been a member of the Baltimore Symphony, performed in numerous Broadway and off-Broadway shows in New York City, and is a recipient of a Senior Scholar Fulbright Award to Ghana. Ms. Stonefelt has participated in numerous recordings and in 2006 she received a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.


Alan Zimmerman was born, reared, and educated in Texas. After spending time in Japan and Jamaica, he migrated to New York City in 1965, where he is currently Executive Vice-President at Kensico Properties. Alan began playing the music of Eric Richards in 1975 and has performed all three of his solo percussion works.




though under medium. . . (for a cappella chorus). The Gregg Smith Singers. Included on America Sings: American Choral Music after 1950: The Non-Traditionalists. Turnabout Records TV34759. (LP)

The Unravelling of the Field. Paul Marquardt, piano. Included on Thumpmusic. Frog Peak FP 003.


Gann, Kyle. “Disorient Express,” The Village Voice, February 22, 2005.

Morris, Stacey. “Where Sound and Image Intersect,” The Glens Falls Post-Star, February 25, 1999.

Paccione, Paul. “Eric Richards: The Composer and His Notation,” Intersecting Sound and Image: The Music Scores and Sketches of Eric Richards. Exhibition Catalog: Visual Arts Gallery, Adirondack Community College, February 25–March 25, 1999.

Ress, Beverly. “The Cassette of Sound and Meaning: A Conversation with Eric Richards,”, November 1999.

Richards, Eric. “Artist’s Statement,” Intersecting Sound and Image: The Music Scores and Sketches of Eric Richards. Exhibition Catalog: Visual Arts Gallery, Adirondack Community College, February 25–March 25, 1999.

Richards, Eric. “Observation and Obsession: An American Way of Art,”ex tempore: A Journal of Compositional and Theoretical Research, Volume VII/2, Summer 1995.

Silva, Melinda Rose. “End of the World: Eric Richards,” Index Magazine, November/December 2004.



All the scores of Eric Richards are available through Frog Peak Music (, except though under medium. . ., which is published by Subito Music Corp., and The Discourse of Insects, which is published in the American Composers Edition percussion series.


Producer: Eric Richards

Digital mastering: Paul Zinman, SoundByte Productions, NYC

Cover art: Larry Schulte, unique serigraph

Cover design: Bob Defrin Design, Inc., NYC


finalbells: Recorded by Eric Richards in 2003 in New York City. Edited in November and December 2003, and January– May 2004, with the help of Tom Hamilton, Tom Hamilton Production Services, New York City

time’s racing (but measured by what we do): Recorded July 13–15 and November 20–22, One Soul Studios, NYC: Patrick Lo Re and Jeremy Kenny, audio engineering, mixing and editing.

My Great-aunt Julia: Recorded February 28, March 3 and 5, 2005, One Soul Studios, NYC: Patrick Lo Re, audio engineering and editing.

Conch Music: Recorded July 27–August 1, 1987, at Hyde Street Studio, San Francisco: David Brown, producer and audio engineer. Later remixed and mastered by David Brown in Santa Cruz, California.

harte’s bels: Recorded July 15, 26, 27, 28, 29 and September 20, 21, 28, 2005, One Soul Studios, NYC: Patrick Lo Re, audio engineering, mixing and editing.

The Bells Themselves: Jonathan Edwards and the American Songbook: Recorded July 9–11, 2006 and September 2 and 3, 2006, One Soul Studios, NYC: Patrick Lo Re and Jeremy Kenny, audio engineering, mixing and editing.

Chicken Pull: Clarinets recorded August 8 and 13, 1991, at Studio Pass (Harvestworks), New York City; whistler recorded by the composer, December 1986, at The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Taos, New Mexico. All parts edited, mixed and
mastered by Brenda Hutchinson at Harvestworks, March 23, 1993.

This recording was made possible by a grant from the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trust.

Many thanks to Michael Byron, Paul Paccione, Larry Polansky, and Nurit Tilles, all of whom helped select and critique the recordings on this CD. I cannot thank Patrick Lo Re and Jeremy Kenny of One World Studios in New York enough for their high standards and innate musicianship in recording several of the pieces on the CD, as well as Michael Rice of Auden Media. I am also enormously indebted to the following who helped make this recording possible: David Brown, for donating time that he had earned as a recording studio assistant to record and master Conch Music; Brenda Hutchinson, one of America’s most imaginative composer/performance artist/storytellers, who volunteered an all-night session at New York’s Harvestworks to edit the version of Chicken Pull on this CD; Alan Zimmerman, who spent countless hours recording musical fragments with me in the basement of his office building for finalbells; and Tom Hamilton, who spent an equal amount of time cleaning up and piecing together those fragments with me to arrive at the final form of the piece. Also,
thanks to Larry Schulte for use of his art work on the CD cover, and Giancarlo Vulcano, who copied the extremely complicated scores of The Bells Themselves: Jonathan Edwards and the American Songbook and time’s racing. Special thanks to W.W. Norton (their Liveright Collection) for permission to use the text of Hart Crane’s Recitative from his book White Buildings for the piece harte’s bels.



Herman E. Krawitz, President; Lisa Kahlden, Director of Information Technology; Paul M. Tai, Director of Artists and Repertory; Mojisola Oké, Bookkeeper; Anthony DiGregorio, Production Associate.



Richard Aspinwall; Milton Babbitt; Jean Bowen; John Lee Carroll; Thomas Teige Carroll; Emanuel Gerard; David Hamilton; Rita Hauser; Lisa Kahlden; Herman E. Krawitz; Fred Lerdahl; Robert Marx; Arthur Moorhead; Elizabeth Ostrow; Cynthia Parker; Larry Polansky; Don Roberts; Marilyn Shapiro; Patrick Smith; Paul M. Tai; Blair Weille.


Francis Goelet (1926–1998), Chairman


? & © 2007 Anthology of Recorded Music, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A.




1. finalbells (2002–04) 15:02

for 16 chromatic cowbells

Alan Zimmerman

2. time’s racing (2000) 6:04

for 2 metal gyils, 2 vibraphones, and 2 Tibetan tingsha (or crotales)

Kay Stonefelt

3. My Great-aunt Julia (1993) 11:45

for bass-baritone solo

David Keck

4. Conch Music (1983–84) 9:20

for 11 oboes

Paul Schiavo, oboe

5. harte’s bels (2001) 7:54

for solo voice in 5 parts

Greg Purnhagen, baritone

6. The Bells Themselves: Jonathan Edwards and the American Songbook (1997–99) 8:05

for three pianos

Paul Marquardt, piano

7. Chicken Pull (1989-92) 7:55

for 72 clarinets and 4 whistlers

Molly Paccione, clarinet; Adam Alter, bass clarinet; Eric Richards, whistler

All compositions published by Frog Peak Music.





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LINER NOTES ? Anthology of Recorded Music, Inc.