Joji Yuasa is an experimentalmusic composer who created some of his most adventurous work in the mid-eighties, working with the CARL computer music system at the Center for Music Experiment (CME) at the University of California at San Diego.
His 1984 album Towards the Midnight Sun: Homage to Ze-Ami was created for piano and quadraphonic computer generated tape, performed by Cecil Lytle. “It is my second composition for computer,” he says on his blog, “coming after My Blue Sky in Southern California, realized in 1976 at CME.” The premiere performance was given on June 3, 1984 at Lincoln Center in New York City, as part of the Horizon 1984 Festival, with Alan Feinberg as the pianist.
Two characteristic sound sources are used in this work: synthesized white noise bands, and recorded concrete sounds such as a resonant stone struck with a mallet, a stick of bamboo, sleigh bell, clay bells and a brandy glass. “All the sounds are manipulated, formed and transformed by the computer, and then localized in a virtual space, the size of which can be varied to produce different aural sensations of spatial depth.”
The aim in this work is to present a musical environment in which the audience can experience a total involvement in the kinetic manipulation of the synthesized sound and the pianist’s spontaneous interaction. “The role of the pianist here is as a communicator of this ritualistic work rather than as a competitive one in the concert. Spatial manipulation of sound has been a continual topic of research for me since Icon on the Source of White Noise , which makes extensive use of sound movement between five channels.”