Ingram Marshall

edited December 2010 in Classical
Because Ingram Marshall is such a wonderful composer, I've decited to gather my recent posts from the "listening" thread:

Ingram Marshall, composer, lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1973
to 1985 and in Washington State, where he taught at Evergreen State College, until 1989.
His current base is Connecticut. He studied at Columbia University and California
Institute of the Arts, where he received an M.F.A., and has been a student of Indonesian
gamelan music, the influence of which may be heard in the slowed-down sense of time
and use of melodic repetition found in many of his pieces. In the mid-seventies he
developed a series of “live electronic” pieces such as Fragility Cycles, Gradual Requiem,
and Alcatraz in which he blended tape collages, extended vocal techniques, Indonesian
flutes, and keyboards. He performed widely in the United States and Europe with these
works. In recent years he has concentrated on music combining tape and electronic
processing with ensembles and soloists. His music has been performed by ensembles and
orchestras such as the Theater of Voices, Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Los
Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and American
Composers Orchestra. He has received awards from the National Endowment for the
Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, Fromm Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, and the
American Academy of Arts and Letters. Recent recordings are on Nonesuch (Kingdom
Come) and New Albion (Savage Altars). Among recent chamber works are Muddy
Waters, which was commissioned and performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and In
Deserto (Smoke Creek), commissioned by Chamber Music America for the ensemble
Clogs. January 2004 saw the premiere of Bright Kingdoms, commissioned by Magnum
Opus/Meet the Composer, and performed by the Oakland-East Bay Symphony under
Michael Morgan. The American Composers Orchestra in New York premiered his new
concerto for two guitars and orchestra, Dark Florescence, at Carnegie Hall in February
Orphic Memories, commissioned by the Cheswatyr Foundation, was composed for the
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and premiered in Carnegie Hall in April 2007
- Ingram
- Blog - (a nice one)


  • edited August 2017
    Ingram Marshall - September Canons - ( New World Records 2009)
    Todd Reynolds, violin, with electronic processing; Members of the Yale Philharmonia, Julian Pellicano, conductor; The Berkeley Gamelan, Daniel Schmidt, director; Ingram Marshall, gambuh (Balinese flute), Serge synthesizer, live electronic processing

    The pieces on this compact disk span almost three decades and represent the principal threads that have run through Ingram Marshall's (b. 1942) work: his remarkable skill in using electronics to create expressive and voluptuously beautiful pieces; the influence of Indonesian music, particularly in the slowed-down sense of time and melodic repetition; a thorough knowledge of some of the most stirring and poignant compositions of the Western tradition, especially Sibelius and Bach; and the hovering presence of Charles Ives, particularly his use of quotation and juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated elements.

    The works on this CD can be thought of as an archeological dig, flowing in reverse chronological order from a recent work to one of the composer's earliest. They range from the dramatic and gripping 2002 work relating to a horrible event in New York City to a timeless ethereal 1976 piece relating to an idyllic period in Indonesia. Along with these dynamic contrasts, there's surprising consistency: Marshall's lifelong efforts to combine electronics with instruments and to render them with warmth and expressivity; but moreover, his extraordinary ability to capture profound human feeling and create works of poignancy and depth.
    - New World.
  • edited October 2014
    Ingram Marshall - Fog Tropes - Gradual Requiem - Gambuh 1
    (New Albion Records 1990)

    with John Adams, conductor and Foster Reed, Mandolin; brass sextet, fog horns & other ambient sounds; synthesizer, mandolin, voice, gambuh, piano, electronics, tape delay.
    The genesis of "Fog Tropes" is as follows: In 1979, performance artist, Grace Ferguson, asked me to prepare a "soundscore" for her piece, "Don't Sue the Weatherman." I went around the San Francisco Bay and recorded a number of different fog horns. A kind of tape collage resulted, using not only fog horns but other sea sounds, falsetto keenings and gambuh (a Balinese flute). Much electronic processing and tape manipulation were visited upon the raw sounds.

    I extracted part of the score, calling it simply "Fog", and began playing it as a tape piece before "Gradual Requiem". The idea of adding brass music as an overlay - or a trope, if you will - came when John Adams invited me to perform at the San Francisco Symphony's "New and Unusual" concert series. He suggested that "Fog" might benefit from some "live" horns.

    So, I composed the new version in January, 1982, employing some of the harmonic ideas of "Gradual Requiem" (e.g., ascending minor triads) and it was premiered at the Japan Center Theater on February 18th with members of the San Francisco New Music Ensemble, John Adams conducting. It has since enjoyed performances by other brass groups and seems to have become one of my most popular pieces.

    A lot of people are reminded of San Francisco when they hear this piece, but not I. To me it is just about fog, and being lost in the fog. The brass players should sound as if they were off in a raft floating in the middle of a mist-enshrouded bay.

    --Ingram Marshall
    Gradual Requiem part I. @ youtube
  • edited October 2014
    Ingram Marshall - Dark Waters - (New Albion Records 2001)

    Libby Van Cleve, English horn & oboe d'amore. Ingram Marshall, electronics[/img]
    Dark Waters, for English horn and tape, was written in 1996 for the oboist Libby Van Cleve. The English horn is amplified and processed through several digital delay devices and mixed live with the tape part. The tape part was created using raw material garnered from sampling fragments of an old 78 rpm recording from the twenties of "The Swan of Tuonela" by Sibelius. The 'low fi' sound and even the surface noise of the old acetate record, clearly heard at the very beginning of the piece, are essential to the dark qualities I tried to produce in this music.

    After the satisfying experience of working with Libby Van Cleve on Dark Waters, we both decided another collaborative venture was in store for us. Although I am fond of the oboe itself, my preference for the lower range and darker timbres of its tenor and alto cousins led me to turn to the Oboe d'Amore, an instrument frequently found in Baroque music but rare in the modern repertoire. One of the most famous uses of the Oboe d'Amore in the Bach canon is found in the B Minor Mass, in the Basso aria 'Et in Spiritum Sanctum -- part of the Credo. There two Oboes d'Amore interweave lines with the singer which suggest not so much a rarefied holy spirit but a dancing one; the music has grace, flow and sprightliness. I have taken some snatches of melody from these parts and recreated my own take on the Holy Ghost. As the oboist plays the Bach fragments, digital delay processors echo them back and create spiraling rich textures which build up to create "ghosts" of the original material.

    Rave was created for the choreographer Paula Josa-Jones who commissioned it for her solo dance work Raving in Wind. The imagery in the work was primarliy avaian which led me to explore the use of bird calls -- especially those of ravens and loons. The latter create haunting, plaintive cries, heard over northern lakes at night, as well as a kind of pealing laughter! The ravens have a most diverse vocabulary and are capable of an unusually complex array of sounds; I created a kind of gamelan with the few I sampled. In the middle section of the piece, the bird sounds give way to samples of southeast Asian instruments which share with the bird calls an elemental, primal sound; they too seem to emerge from the natural world. In the final section, all the sounds come together.

    -- Ingram Marshall.
    - New Albion Records.
  • edited October 2014
    600x600.jpg - New World Records 30. juni 2009.

    This CD comprises the text-sound works (1974-1980) on which Ingram Marshall concentrated throughout the seventies and falls into two parts: the works from the Fragility Cycles period (Cries Upon the Mountains, SUNG, Sibelius in His Radio Corner, and IKON) and the earlier works (Cortez, Weather Report, and The Emperor’s Birthday).
    - Notes by Ingram Marshall:
    “Cortez, Weather Report, and The Emperor’s Birthday form a kind of trilogy representing my work with “text-sound” in the early seventies. The techniques used to generate musical fabrics and structures out of spoken text are similar in all three works, but the source materials are all quite different. I used tape loops to create repetitive patterns from words or phrases; musical structures were developed out of the resulting fabric. It is not the original utterance or sound bit that is the building block, but the whole cloth created from it.”

    SUNG and IKON are both based on poems by Swedish poet Gunnar Ekelöf. The first piece, referring to the Sung Dynasty, is scored initially as a solo/duo recitative by painter Jan HÃ¥fström and dancer Margareta Åsberg, after which the tape processes multiply their voices into a ghostly chorus as Marshall’s spectral bass appears with the English translation, to be in turn transformed into its own small chorus.

    IKON, Marshall’s setting of Ekelöf’s Ayiasma, is a mystical meditation on an ancient ikon seen in a Greek church. The air of apocalyptic finality in the text is enhanced by the electronics, with the pervasive soundscape being that of an entropic cosmic machine. Marshall again intones the English translation; the incantatory recitation of the Swedish original is by Ekelöf himself.

    “Rop på fjellet (Cries Upon the Mountains) again uses materials “collected” in Scandinavia, most significantly an ancient recording of locklåtar and rop from Swedish mountain herdinner (shepherdesses) traditionally used to call goats and cattle from great distances, although clearly also cultivated for their own intrinsic, shrill beauty. The live element is my own voice, a high keening processed through a tape delay system.”

    Sibelius in His Radio Corner was inspired by a photograph of the Finnish composer during his “forty years of silence,” sitting in an armchair and listening to his own work being performed on the radio. “In his old age Sibelius enjoyed pulling in distant broadcasts of his music off the short-wave. I imagined that with all the static and signal drift, some of these listening experiences might have been proleptically like a modern-day electronically processed kurzwellen piece.”

    - New World Records. - Linernotes.
    Marshall’s brooding, mysterious sonic landscapes are essential listening for anyone interested in Minimalism and the musique concréte tradition in electronic music.
  • edited October 2014
    - New Albion Records 2006.

    "Savage Altars, from a concert performance by the Tudor Choir, derives its title from the Roman historian Tacitus' Annals Book I, which chronicles the Roman campaigns against the German tribes. They suffered a devastating defeat by the Cheruscan soldiers in the Teutobugian forest. Six years later, the remains, bleached out bones, splintered spears and debris, of three Roman Legions, were found, the whole of which was named "barbarae arae"—savage altars. Elements of the hymn Magnificat, and the canon "Sumer is i cumen in" are also interwoven in melodic and textual contributions. This was written on the eve of the first Gulf War under Bush the elder.

    Authentic Presence addresses a continuous state of spiritual mindfulness and was unconsciously inspired by the civil rights anthem, "We Shall Overcome".

    Five Easy Pieces are a kind of homage to Stravinsky and were made for no other reason than for having fun.

    Soe-pa, the Tibetan word for patience, is for solo guitar with digital delays and loops. It is a more formal exercise in composition that involves the interplay between live and electronic media."

    - Ingram Marshall
  • edited September 2011
    - Nonesuch 1990.

    "Three Penitential Visions (1986) surfaced as a radio work, part of a series called "The Territory of Art", sponsored by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
    Hidden Voices (1989) draws must of its substance from recordings of ethnic vocal music from Eastern Europe, particularly the strange wailing laments heard typically at funerals. Ingram Marshall wrote: "It has been my intention not only to exploit, but to pay homage to these found voices. The sources used are from Central Russia (...), Northern Russia (...), Romania and Hungary"
    Into the mix, processed electronically through digital delays and often combined with their own echoes, Marshall has stirred a live soprano, singing the old Anglican hymn "Once, in David's City".
    These ambient soundscapes rely on the mixing of natural sounds, voices, synthesizers. The result is totally original and has a kind of haunting beauty...
    It is impossible to compare Ingram Marshall's music with anyone else. Brian Eno could be, however, a possible challenger.
    The mood, the soundscapes, the sonic depth are unique.."
  • edited April 1
    Time for the next chapter of the amazing Ingram Marshall:

    Released by the no longer existing New Albion Records in 1991:
    [ - "Alcatraz is indeed about the famous Californian island prison, now deserted—a macabre spectacle as caught in the photographs of Jim Bengston of which there are 22 examples in the CD booklet. Many such photographs were sent from Bengston to Marshall and these enriched his already developed fascination for the sounds of the San Francisco Bay area. Marshall made recordings at Alcatraz itself and then composed with the photographs in front of him. Finally he was not satisfied with merely illustrating a picture book and devised a type of live performance. The first took place in San Francisco in 1984 and further realizations in various parts of the world have followed. These apparently consisted of a two-hour performance from tape with the photographs available to the audience before and after whilst ambient music (tracks 1 and 10) could be heard as background.

    The result of all this, purely as a recording, is variously evocative, nostalgic or sinister. Track 6 is based on the baleful sound of the cell doors being closed mechanically—as menacingly final as the closing of the castle gates in Debussy's Pellèas. Perhaps not here, though, since there is a section called "Escape"—track 8, which leads straight into track 9, "End", which is rather trite compared with the landscape representations. Alcatraz is at times mesmeric and often uncanny in its power to conjure up the setting, even if there is not a lot of substance to go back to and it might make a greater impact as a film. Perhaps the CD booklet should, in any case, offer more information about the history of the prison."

  • It sounds like September Canons might be a good place to start?
  • - Absolutely.
    Dark Waters is IMO just as good, very much because of Libby Van Cleve's English horn & oboe d'amore performance, it is really out of this world.
    - And then again, so is Todd Reynolds' violin on September Canons . . . Hmmmm ?
  • edited April 1
    Another chapter in the continuing story about Ingram Marshall, even if it is just one track on a new and brilliant album.

    Giselle Wyers and her Solaris Vocal Ensemble perform world premiere recordings of commissioned works.

    - "Led by conductor Giselle Wyers, the Solaris Vocal Ensemble performs a program of contemporary American music that includes works by Meredith Monk, the 2012 Musical America Composer of the Year; Ingram Marshall, whose music concentrates on combining tape and electronic processing with ensembles and soloists; Anne LaBaron, whose compositions embrace an exotic array of subjects; and Frances White, whose study of the shakuhachi informs and influences her works as a composer. All world premiere recordings, these works reflect a renaissance of innovation in the field of choral music."
    - Albany Records 2014

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