SineBirds : Feral Abacus (acousmatic music)
by Ian Shanahan (1981)
From the CD Echoes/fantasies.
In late 1999, whilst rummaging through a cupboard, I came across
a long-forgotten about tape dating from my early undergraduate
student days, of a hitherto untitled, brief electronic study - a
somewhat Varèsian 1950s-sounding exercise that consists almost
entirely of sine tones subjected to spatial manipulation. It was,
I vaguely recall, created over a period of about thirty minutes
using a rather crackly old EMS Putney VCS3 analog synthesizer, a
quaint contraption produced during the 1960s which is now well
and truly a museum piece.
What would I name this electroacoustical trifle, having refamiliarized myself with it? On the one hand, the sound-world of the piece reminded me of a chorus of surrealistic but querulous bird-calls (hence "SineBirds"); yet at the same time, an image of a demented, out-of-control mechanical calculator inexplicably came into focus (so, "Feral Abacus"). I credit Bob Ellis for the colourful expression 'feral abacus', passed on to me fortuitously by his son Jack just two days before the tape was to be archived onto CD: this was Ellis's vivid epithet for one of the plethora of desiccated-ideologue economic-(ir)rationalist beancounters who front the Right of Australian politics ... those soulless dim-wits who apparently cannot see anything beyond a balance-sheet's bottom line, and who forget that we live in a society, not just an economy.
SineBirds : Feral Abacus was realized in 1981 under the guidance of Ian Fredericks, at the Sydney University Experimental Sound Studio in the Music Department of the University of Sydney.
© Ian Shanahan, Sydney, Australia; 24 December 1999
Instrumentation: Acousmatic composition.
Duration: 3 min.
Difficulty: N/A - Not for live performance
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