Song for instruments and four-track tape

Song for instruments and four-track tape

This is based on ‘Surfit’, a work which appears on the LP Swit Drimz performed by OdB with 4-track tape. It evokes some of the tonal qualities and distinctive sounds characterising the work of the Beach Boys. (OdB programme note)

Note from Lontano programme ‘The Americas’ 1982/3

I have long been fascinated by and attached to the music of the Beach Boys so when in 1977 I was commissioned by Merseyside Arts to write a new work for the concert to be given by my group OdB at the Phiharmonic Hall, Liverpool, I composed the tribute which has been echoing around my mind for some years. I had already made a short studio composition based on Beach Boys material called Surfit which was issued on the record Swit Drimz the previous year, but in SONG I wanted to explore the material in greater depth and write a genuine concert work for the group to play.

Nevertheless, to achieve the density of sound which was occasionally required I used a four-channel tape to ‘back’ the three live players. But the material of Song is very homogeneous. It is entirely a ‘quotations piece’, but, as it contains nothing but quotations one is not really conscious of specific references, nor are any meant to obtrude. (As Carl Williams says in the opening quote, what matters is the feeling created by the sound.) The tiny ‘loops’ taken from Beach Boys songs are deployed by the players, with a certain degree of freedom,in reaction to the tape part and to each other’s playing. The deeply layered textures which result are analogous to the extensively multi-tracked voicings of the original songs but, because of the combinations of many different tonalities and the repetitions of almost subliminally small harmonic progressions, the effect of SONG is very different from that of the songs themselves. The work is a distant, fog-bound evocation of the Californian dream of sun and surf. Alas, it only lasts for fourteen and a half minutes.

© 1982 Tim Souster