The Extended Flute

Maggi Payne is a composer, flutist, recording engineer/editor and video artist. At Mills College she is Co-Director of the Center for Contemporary Music, and teaches audio engineering, composition and electronic music. Payne began studying flute at the age of nine and attended Interlochen National Music Camp and Aspen Music School. She obtained a Bachelor of Music degree in performance at Northwestern University, where she studied with flutist Walfrid Kujala, a MFA degree in performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana, and a MFA degree in electronic music and the recording media from Mills College.

Payne has received Composer's Grants and an Interdisciplinary Arts Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and video grants from the Mellon Foundation and the Western States Regional Media Arts Fellowships Program.

Her works are available on the Lovely Music, Music and Arts, Centaur, MMC, Frogpeak and Asphodel labels. Works include Apparent Horizon, Minutia 0-13, Liquid Metal, Aeolian Confluence, Resonant Places, Desertscapes, Phase Transitions, Songs of Flight, Ahh-Ahh (ver 2.1), Airwaves (realities), White Night, Subterranean Network, Crystal, Solar Wind, Ling, Scirocco, Transparencies and HUM.

From the moment she first heard a flute, she insisted on learning the instrument. Although she has a thorough background in classical music, from a very early age she was drawn to "new music" and extended techniques. She started working on Varese's Density 21.5 as soon as she could hit the high "d"s," and has specialized in performing the newest music available. While at Northwestern, Elise Ross (voice), Daniel Stepner (violin), Peter Takacs (piano) and she formed a new music improvisatory group which was very active. She has continued to pursue extended techniques, broadening the scope to include recording techniques and electronic processing.

HUM (Maggi Payne) (1973)

This piece was loosely scored in 1972 and worked out in greater detail as I was playing/recording it the first time, in 1973. The 8-track tape machine I was using was full of hum, and that, coupled with the amount of humming that the flutist is required to do, suggested the title for the piece. The piece was written for seven flutes. It may be performed live, with amplification, or as a single flutist (with amplification) playing along with a pre-recorded version, or may be recorded and played live with a flutist's own version. This new recording is missing the electronically-generated hum, but there is still a considerable amount of humming by the flutist. The piece explores the instrument's wide timbral capabilities and enhances its dynamic range by the player's carefully "working" the microphone.

—MP, 8/97

QSRL (David Behrman) (1994)

QSRL was made for flutist Barbara Held in 1994 as a piece that she could run on her own music system. It consists of software for a Macintosh laptop computer linked to a Proteus synthesizer, a pitch sensor and a microphone. It was intended to be performable with a flute or alto flute either in private or at concerts.

In QRSL the software is indifferent to which particular pitches are being played, responding instead to changes in the loudness of sustaining sounds within low and high register regions that can be flexibly set during performance. That makes for a situation more relaxed than in my other software-based pieces where "hits" on particular pitches are required to elicit reactions.

Each of the two parts of QSRL has eight subsections that can be entered in any order and engaged for any duration. A number of alterable options, displayed on the laptop's screen, govern details of the sound textures and ongoing interaction.

The present recording was made with Maggi Payne at the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College in November 1995, in the same studio where we had recorded together in the Seventies.

The software is written in "Formula/Forthmatics," a language developed by Ron Kuivila, David Anderson and Mitch Bradley.

—DB, 8/97

DAVID BEHRMAN (b. 1937) has been active as a composer and electronic artist since the 1960s and has created many compositions as well as sound installations. Most of his work since the late 1970s has involved computer-controlled music systems, operating interactively with people who may or may not be musically expert. He designs and writes much of the software for these systems. My Dear Siegfried..., Unforseen Events, Leapday Night, Interspecies Smalltalk and On the Other Ocean are among Behrman's works for soloists and small ensembles. Recordings of his music are available on XL, Lovely Music and Classic Masters.

POEMPIECE I: whitegold blue (William Brooks) (1967)

In Poempiece I short fragments of fully composed music alternate with improvisations based upon even shorter fragments of text drawn from a wide variety of sources. The sequence is regulated by a chart which admits many, but not all, possible orderings. At the time of writing it seemed to me that I was experimenting with open forms and with ways of fusing the acts of composition and performance. Now, thirty years later, the piece appears to be the start of a lifelong preoccupation with the relations between sound and language, and especially the ways in which the latter suggests, constrains, enlarges, and confounds the former. I am enormously grateful to Maggi Payne for her many years or work with this piece and, more importantly, for the intelligence and love she brings to all her undertakings.

—WB, 8/97

WILLIAM BROOKS (b. 1943) teaches composition at the University of Illinois, where he also directs the Contemporary Chamber Singers. He has written extensively for voice, and even his instrumental music is often guided by literary or linguistic considerations. A musicologist as well as a composer, he has written extensively on American music and particularly Charles Ives and John Cage.

AEOLIAN CONFLUENCE (Maggi Payne) (1993)

At ten year intervals I compose a flute piece. Aeolian Confluence is the third work in this series, the two preceding being HUM and Scirocco. There is a common thread in these pieces, in that the final section is always reminiscent of HUM's final "wind roar" section. In Aeolian Confluence, the first section is sampled flute, which slowly builds and rises. The second and third sections use the SoundHack convolving algorithm, with flute samples as the exclusive sources. The final section is recorded live, with several overdubs, and uses additional samples only at the very end.

The piece deals with spatial concerns. The first section slowly rises, spreads, comes forward, then cascades down while rapidly receding; the second and third are very distant; the fourth section is very present, receding only at the very end.

—MP 8/93

FLAPTICS (Mark Trayle) (1997)

The flute as telescope, traversing the haptic space of a slowly disintegrating text by Galileo Galilei. Maggi reads the text in closest approximation to the rhythms of her natural speaking voice. The variations in air pressure, volume and mutations of the normal embouchure caused by reading result in overblowing and other, more subtle, timbral effects. A video camera mounted in the alto flute's head joint (coupled with STEIM's BigEye software) serves as a MIDI interface. Movements of the flute bring different parts of the printed text into view, controlling the pitch and real-time processing of digitally processed flute samples.

—MT 8/97

MARK TRAYLE was born in California in 1955. He studied composition with Robert Ashley, David Behrman, and David Rosenboom. His recent performances and installations have featured software embodied as gramophones, tin cans, and digitalismans. Trayle has performed and exhibited at venues and festivals in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He has received grants from Arts International and the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been an artist-in-residence at STEIM and Mills College. His music is available on the Artifact, Inial and Elektra/Nonesuch labels. He currently teaches composition at the California Institute of the Arts.

INTERPOLATION, mobile pour flûte (1, 2 et 3)
(Roman Haubenstock-Ramati) (1959)

In this work the flutist is given the choice of taking several interconnecting pathways. The score may be read forwards or backwards (with different pathways available). The piece may be performed by a single flutist, as a duet or as a trio of flutists. It may also be performed in the ideal situation, with one flutist and a recording system. In this instance the first iteration is recorded, then played back as the flutist continues to play. That duet, in turn, is also recorded, then played back as the flutist continues, forming a trio. As the paths intertwine, there are moments when phrases coincide, then diverge, as different pathways lead to different materials. The piece is a sonic representation of a brilliantly colored, suspended mobile.

—MP 8/97

ROMAN HAUBENSTOCK-RAMATI, born in Poland in 1919, was the music director of Radio Krakow from 1947-1950 and then became the director of the State Music Library in Tel Aviv from 1950-1956. In 1957 he moved to Vienna and became a professor of composition at the Vienna Academy of Music in 1973. During the 1980s, he also was, for a time, the director of The Institute of Electroacoustics and experimental Music in Vienna. He wrote numerous works for solo, ensemble, orchestral, operatic and theatrical presentation. Throughout his career he wrote many works which contain Mobile in the subtitle, indicating scores with flexible architecture.

INFLECTIONS (Maggi Payne) (1968)

Inflections explores space/spaciousness. The spaces in between events are equal in importance to the sounds produced by the flutist. Each sound is a "precious" entity—as if each is an irregular pearl in a string of pearls. The intervening silence acts as the thread that binds them together.
—MP 8/97