Cassette Studies I & II

by Douglas McCausland

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This piece is derived from a series of studies I did utilizing a Marantz cassette deck, after I discovered it had a particularly appealing pair of quirks.

The first quirk, is the ability to manipulate the tape playback in strange ways by partially depressing the fast-forward and rewind buttons in various combinations, which can result in tape stops, speed changes, and other effects that cause spatial shifts and incidental filtering. The second quirk is the deck's particularly loud mechanical operating noises, which I utilized as a compositional focus by covering the deck in contact microphones to capture the mechanical sound during performance.

As a compositional device, I wanted to play with the idea of a 'tape' piece quite literally, while simultaneously subverting the semiotic understanding of what a 'tape piece' means in electroacoustic music. As such, the tape is TECHNICALLY a fixed-media product, but in performance, it is manipulated in real-time both through directed operations with the tape deck and through Max/MSP for live processing - in the end, the fixed-media origins of the tape are rendered nearly unrecognizable. Additionally, the once undesirable aspects of tape are rendered core musical facets of the piece, such as tape flutter, wow, noise, etc. The medium of tape, and its sonic quirks are brought front and center as the aural focal point. In performance, aspects of the piece are improvised, though its overall formal structure and core tape-content remains the same from performance to performance; as such, this is only one interpretation of the piece's 'score'.

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released March 5, 2017

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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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