[re​]​/​/​Glossolalia

by Douglas McCausland

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about

"[re]//Glossolalia", in its totality, represents almost a year and a half of work. This project, in three large interrelated parts, is the culmination of my studies at the University of Edinburgh. Serving collectively as my second master's thesis, I am indebted to those who helped make this project possible: my wife Courtney, my performer Kyle Landry, all of my mentors, and all of my family and friends. Please look below for more specific program notes for each of the three large portions of the project accordingly. Thanks for listening.

Please Note: I don’t intend for this project to serve as a prescriptive worldview, and encourage you to consider it from your own lens. However, I do intend it to exist as a platform in which I can bring blind hatred, the sometimes sinister and manipulative nature of late-night rural radio, and dangerous zealotry under scrutiny.

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Glossolalia // Note:

Written primarily in 2017, and then revised in the summer of 2018, Glossolalia is a work for solo alto saxophone and electronics that is both introspectively reflective of, and “extrospectively” influenced by, the socio-political climate of the United States following the 2016 presidential election cycle.

When I began working on this piece, I initially did not intend for it to be a piece with such a pronounced socio-political edge. In fact, Glossolalia was originally commissioned as a work for trumpet and fixed-media. It was completed and delivered in early-mid 2017, at which point the performer who had commissioned me backed out only a few hours after delivery citing the “dark tone” and “political content” of the piece. At this point, Glossolalia lay dormant for almost a year until I began speaking with saxophonist Kyle Landry. Kyle not only expressed interest in championing the piece, but also expressed that he would also like for the work to have an expanded electronics component, including live-processing. At this point, I began the revision process of re-composing the work for saxophone with live electronics. Ultimately, Kyle and my collaboration yielded a successful premiere performance at the 2018 New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, a performance that I will remember fondly as “the one that was so loud it made part of the ceiling cave in”. As such, this piece is dedicated to Kyle as a thank you for his support throughout its creation.

In regards to the specific content of the piece; I was recording demo material with a circuit-bent radio I had just finished preparing late one night in early January 2017. After spending some time ‘finding sounds’, I flipped from the AM band to FM. In doing so, I was confronted with radio broadcasts filled with hateful rhetoric, sinister message, and manipulative presentation of “facts”. Thankfully, I happened to still be recording, and eventually realized that I hadn’t moved from that spot for a number of hours. In that session, I was struck by how in this context, even statements that seem at first innocuous can take on new sinister meanings due to their proximity to such outlandish, zealotry-driven, and openly hateful rhetoric. With this wealth of recorded material, I chose to try and take these broadcasts and turn them “inside out” so to speak, to transform and / or augment them in ways that would ideally expose the logical leaps, signposting, logical fallacies, and broken syntactic relationships. The broadcasts used in this piece vary in content, covering topics such as: predicting the United States’ role in bringing about the biblical apocalypse, why monetary donations earn entry into the afterlife, to the “comforts” of mutually assured destruction, and so on.

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[re]Glossolalia // Note:

Written in 2018, [re]Glossolalia was composed as a companion work to another composition of mine from early 2017 for alto saxophone and live electronics. Both pieces heavily critique the sometimes insidious and subversive nature of late-night rural US radio broadcasts, utilizing excerpts recorded from a circuit-bent radio. The broadcasts used in this piece vary in content, covering topics such as: predicting the United States’ role in bringing about the biblical apocalypse, why monetary donations earn entry into the afterlife, to the “comforts” of mutually assured destruction, and so on. Compositionally, the piece presents an unpredictable, dense, and continuously fracturing interpretation and dialogue of that radio content – exploring the balance between real and imaginary sound worlds in a type of liminal space. The sonic materials for [re]Glossolalia were created and transformed using custom-written granular synthesis programs, duffing oscillator synthesis, FM synthesis, and through hardware hacking.

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Fragments from a Stairwell // Note:

This piece is a first-person binaurally encoded series of excerpts from 'Fragments from a Stairwell', the installation portion of the '[re] // Glossolalia' project. Recorded during an evening recording session at the Talbot Rice Gallery; in this recording, I hope to provide an example of how the installation sounded within the spaces it inhabited. This demo was recorded using in-ear microphones, and was then binaurally encoded in post-editing, with additional space provided by the impulse responses taken at the gallery.

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released August 14, 2018

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Douglas McCausland Palo Alto, California

Douglas McCausland is a composer / performer currently based out of the Bay Area in California, USA while pursuing a DMA in Composition at Stanford University.

Fascinated with new sonic territories and processes for creating music, his work engages with the extremes of sound and the digital medium.
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