Introduction by Roger Reynolds to the SEARCH Project.


Alvin Lucier

Copyright © 2002 Alvin Lucier
and the Composition Area, Department of Music, University of California, San Diego
Published by Permission

Online publishing and editing by Karen Reynolds
All Rights Reserved.

SEARCH EVENT IV, 3 March 2002, University of California, San Diego

The following TEXT was commissioned by the Composition Area, Department of Music, University of California, San Diego for its SEARCH initiative. The TEXT / TALK is copyrighted and appears in its original presentation here. While links TO this TEXT or recording from other sites are welcome, no part of this TEXT may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the copyright holders [Please contact Roger Reynolds: to facilitate this.].

I would like to begin my talk on the Future of Music by making a few comments on an article I came across with the same title by Charles Rosen in the New York Review of Books, December 20, 2001. In his essay, Rosen addresses several issues, mostly relating to historical Western classical music. One of the first points he makes has to do with the written score. He says that because of the ambiguity of the written score the music has survived. He says "...a score can be realized in many different ways, with many different kinds of sonority, as if a purely ideal structure could be made to give life to a multitude of actual forms." (In our time Boulez has made this into a principle of composing, with many different versions of the same structure, but in his case the working-out of a new realization is in reality only a later and more advanced stage of composition.)

As I read this, I wondered why Rosen stopped with Boulez, particularly since the Boulez example didn't prove his point. Boulez rewrites his scores to improve them, to give them finality, not to open them up for various interpretations. Rosen might have looked around for composers who actually build into their scores certain variables which allow for different but valid future performances. He might have taken a step further by including John Cage, many of whose scores are designed to accommodate a multitude of various instruments and sound producers. How often in Cage's scores have we read "for any number of players" or "for any duration". For Cage, these variables are not stages in composition but integral components of the works themselves. It is part of Cage's philosophy and compositional method to construct forms open to varied interpretations. He does nothing to give his works closure. He leaves them open. I remember in the early Sixties, when I was a student at Tanglewood, hitchhiking in Lenox. John Cage, in his famous Volkswagen bus, stopped to pick me up. I knew who he was. He asked me what kind of music I made. Trying to be funny, I replied that it was way back in the 20th century. He laughed and said, "Oh well, our music is timeless!" I think Cage might have meant two things by this. One, Cage often said he was composing for the future. (We all think that our music will be understood after we die, don't we?) David Tudor said to me once that he thought that Boulez wasn't interested in the future but rather in maintaining the hegemony of European music.

Chance operations for Cage were a way to get magic moments. When two or more sounds occur accidentally, something special happens which doesn't happen in pre-planned sound occurrences. Cage used the term "luminosity" to describe this quality. Boulez never could accept that idea. He never heard those accidents as luminous. But one can hear them, particularly when one is performing a Cage work. Years ago David Tudor and I were performing John's Music for Amplified Toy Pianos. The instructions were to realize your own version of the score using chance operations. David had stacked the pianos--there may have been as many as a dozen of them-one on top of the other. Each was amplified with a contact mike. As the keys on these miniature instruments were struck, enormous sounds would come out of loudspeakers positioned around the room. Well, we started playing and, after a minute or so, long silences came up in each of our parts at the same time. We both stopped playing for a minute or so. (It seemed like hours.) I became terribly embarrassed. Where in music does a silence happen so soon in a piece, and for so long a duration? Anyway, we resumed playing and, lo and behold, our 20-minute performance was over in a flash. I got so engrossed in the process, I lost track of time. I was playing from a fixed score, but one which was generated by chance processes. I am hard pressed to try to explain my experience during that performance. There is a kind of elation and freedom in being a part of a random system where sound is the manifestation. It's different but certainly as rewarding as those peak experiences I had when I conducted the great works of classical choral music. My task then was to move along in time, across the music, picking up peak moments along the way. I felt I was inside Cage's works, in one timeless moment. If Cage's music is to survive, it will be because people will want to have those experiences.

Rosen seems not to be aware of Morton Feldman's music, either. Morty couldn't conceive of writing a note down unless he knew exactly what instrument was going to play it. I am mentioning this here because it contradicts Rosen's comment about ideal structure which could accommodate "different kinds of sonority". It goes against Cage, too, I guess. In Feldman the instrumentation and dynamics (almost invariably soft) are fixed but the durations, at least in his early works, are often free. In his later large-scale works, however, the rhythms are completely notated so that he can spin out long strands of music by almost endless repetitions, each one slightly different. In his essay Rosen even mentions that, by the time of Cézanne, the hierarchy of line over color had disappeared. Feldman's friendship with the New York painters, particularly Philip Guston, is well-known.

For Feldman soft dynamics have an acoustical function as well as a poetic one. Quiet sounds with no attack, particularly piano sounds, eliminate the onset sound-spike with its accompanying noise, enabling the sound to attain a purity it otherwise wouldn't have. He created a new sound for the piano. You can hear the aftersound, too, that slow beating pattern caused by slightly out of tune strings. Actually, the free durations, as well as the soft dynamics, gives Feldman's music that uncanny presence that is the hallmark of his music. I recently heard that someone recorded Feldman's music by playing is loudly, then simply lowered the volume for playback. This shows a basic misunderstanding of the sound of Morty's music. It's not supposed to be simply heard softly, it's supposed to be played softly. It is curious that Rosen missed these musics. He doesn't include Cage and Feldman in his field of vision.

I was in Vienna recently and heard a concert of Feldman's early works, including a neo-classical sonata for piano and cello, as well as music from a few of his scores for films, including Hans Namuth's Pollack. Included on the program was a work from 1958, Two Instruments, for horn and cello. It was a particularly pungent memory for me. In the early Sixties, when I was teaching at Brandeis as choral director, I had invited Gordon Mumma to come and help design our electronic music studio. We had in our department at that time a wonderful cellist named Madeline Foley. I came across Feldman's duo in the Peters Catalog and ask Madeline and Gordon to play it. (I was trying to infiltrate this music into the serial environment of the Department.) In addition to being a composer of complex electronic music Gordon was also an accomplished horn player. Two Instruments is only a few minutes long and is typical of Feldman's early works. The performance directions state that both players start simultaneously, then proceed at their own speed, playing quietly with a minimum of attack.

Hearing Two Instruments after almost 40 years was amazing. It consisted of two voices moving separately, but it didn't sound contrapuntal. I felt as if I were present in my own future. In 2001 this small masterpiece was now programmed on a Wien Moderne concert for a fascinated audience. In the mid-Sixties it was new and controversial. I had to sell it, explain it, to people. How could a composer leave the durations up to the players, particularly since the pitches, notated vertically, would spread out and be heard horizontally, getting further and further apart from each other? (Phase music.) People thought it was irresponsible.

A performance of Two Instruments by Charles Curtis (cello) and Warren Greff (horn).


Rosen also mentions musica ficta, a practice in which singers could raise or lower pitches by adding accidentals to the written notes and how, in the motets of Josquin, for example, only the parts were written--or at least that's how the written music has come down to us. He tells the anecdote about how, in 1789, Charles Burney tried to re-assemble Josquin's Déploration on the Death of Ockeghem. He copied the parts out into a score; the results were absurd. But, by simply transposing the tenor part up a step, the music worked. It was a puzzle that had to solved. (It caused a change of mode, too, from Dorian to Phrygian. The first glimmer of polymodality?) It reminds me of certain works of Christian Wolff which have no clef signs. In Exercises, for example, the notes may be played in any clef. This gives a certain strangeness to the work. Because it is most often played by readers of the treble and bass clefs, asymmetrical parallels are prevalent. Players may move out of phase with each other, creating a kind of natural heterophony.

When I was teaching at Brandeis in the Sixties, several graduate students showed an interest in Christian's work, so I ordered the score for his Pairs. In this work, from 1 to 4 pairs of players (8 in all) may play chronologically or horizontally--one pair after another--or vertically, --the pairs stacked up, one on top of another. The instruments of each pair may change from performance to performance, too. At one of the Brandeis contemporary music concerts we played one version before the intermission, a second, with different pairs, after the intermission. One of my colleagues thought I was privileging this work over others on the program and persuaded me to perform another work twice. It was common practice in those days, as it is now in some places, to perform difficult works twice, in order to hear the definitive version of the piece. In Christian's piece, you got to hear it in two separate versions, each one definitive. (Two reasons for repetition.) In those days, at places like Brandeis, we experimented with presenting concerts consisting of music from different periods: a couple of motets by Josquin or Ockeghem, for example, as well as a Mozart string quartet and one or two contemporary works. It was an idea of Stavinsky's, I think. It was a wonderful idea but it didn't last. (Too many pasts and futures at once, perhaps.) Audiences come to concerts to hear specific music. It's still that way.

A few years ago I participated in a conference on world music in Jakarta, Indonesia. A well-known composer presented his vision of a future music. He had recorded samples of musics from around the globe and presented a mix of them. (geographical collage.) I don't remember whether or not they were recorded live or were a studio mix. Anyway, certain instruments pre-dominated, particularly Western brass instruments, the trombone especially, because of its high tech construction. There are no Javanese instruments that I know of with such a dynamic range. I hated the results. As I was listening, I looked around the room at those representatives from more remote parts of Indonesia, many of whose musics had not yet achieved recognition. I would have hated to see their music get swallowed up in someone's grandiose idea. Roland Barthes said that integration is paranoid. Someone or some group of people want to encompass a wide variety of elements under one roof. They are afraid to be left out. Of course, it is they who do the encompassing. I would rather hear as many of the world's musics as possible separately rather than all of them at once. I know I am in danger of espousing the "separate but equal" clause but we shouldn't leave anyone out.

During my first few years at Wesleyan, I felt guilty that I wasn't a "world music composer". What was in the air then was the tendency to mix music of various cultures. I resisted this tendency searching for a neutral, non-cultural music without language, consisting of pure sound. When asked why I didn't use musics of other cultures, I would answer that I had my own ideas. They were surprised.


I'd like to tell you about an experience I had at Aspen several years ago. I went to a concert by the Kronos String Quartet specifically to hear the quartet version of Jim Tenney's Koan for solo violin, which he wrote for Malcolm Goldstein. We all know this piece. It consists simply of tremolos glissing gradually from one open string to another. Starting with a tremolo on the Open G and D strings, the player gradually raises the lower string until it is in unison with the upper. Then he raises the upper Open D string until it reaches the Open A. And so on. Once the pattern is established the listener is not concerned with what is going to happen next; he or she is free to focus on the small acoustical phenomena--scratching, scraping, buzzing of the resonating strings, not to mention the audible beating produced between the ever-widening intervals. The form is totally predictable. I was riveted. A well-known composer was sitting a few rows in front of me. After the piece got going for a while she started turning around and grimacing at her friends, pretending to be flummoxed by the piece. Her antics spoiled the performance for me. I wish I had had the courage to have asked her to behave herself but I was too polite to do so. As I get older I'm not as easily intimidated by such things. (I didn't predict my own future.)

Then the quartet played a piece by a well-known composer and faculty member at Aspen. It was extremely well composed, exploiting just about everything stringed instruments are able to do. At every measure, if not every beat, something new happened. It was composed to be interesting at every moment. But I couldn't keep my mind on it. My mind wandered. What was meant to keep the listener's interest and continually entertained, distracted me. (Attention deficit.) I still don't know the reason for this, why sitting quietly and focusing on the predictable musical form of Jim's piece was fascinating, more so than the work which jumped from one idea to another. What was "boring" became interesting; what was made to be interesting, became boring. Jim's Koan, seems to me a perfect example of experimental music; the other work, flowing from the great European avant garde tradition, specialized in contrast, and spectacular results. Each piece requires a different kind of listening. Perhaps the difference between the two lies in attention span. During Jim's piece you listen to one inexorable process, getting surprised by small occurrences along the way. He doesn't help you by pointing them out. You have to be aware at all times. In the Aspen composer's piece, very moment was beautifully crafted; the relationships among the moments were disjunct. (Attention deficit.) The composer moves you from point to point abruptly. Perhaps that was the reason. In Cage's Thirty Pieces for String Quartet, by the way, a similar thing happens. Short complex fragments are meticulously constructed and sounded by the players. But the players are spaced far apart from each other and they are unsynchronized and free to play their fragments within certain time boundaries. This opening up of time and space releases the listener from oppressive relationships.


In the Sixties, certain composers invented a new form in music. It consisted of a single gesture or activity which, when put into motion, produced unexpected results. Steve Reich's Come Out is an example. A single fragment of speech is looped and played on two identical tape recorders. As one machine moves a bit faster or slower than the other, the fragments may be heard to sound out of phase with each other. A canon, formed by the time lag between the 2 machines, is created in real time, in front of our very ears. (It was as if Steve were showing us the origins of the canon.) In Jim's Never Having Written a note for Percussion, a player plays a soft roll on a tam tam. As he or she gradually crescendos, the tam tam steps into a different mode of vibration. In Gordon Monahan's Piano Mechanics, the simple addition of tones, one by one, to a series of repeated clusters in the lowest reaches of the piano, causes the instrument to abruptly step into astonishing modes of vibration. The piano seems to heat up and start burning. Spontaneous combustion. And in my I am sitting in a room, several paragraphs of speech are recorded and recycled into a room up to as many as 32 times. Even though the process is constant--I make no changes in the recording except to keep the tape from over saturating--the rate of change of the processing of the spoken words varies. The point at which the speech goes from intelligibility to unintelligibility is different for each person. I love to watch individuals in the audience get the idea. I can almost see light bulbs go on over their heads. Christian Wolff recently confessed to me that he had had trouble with this piece--it was so personal and self-referential. ("Self-indulgent" was the word I think he used.) But then, as the speech disintegrated and was transformed into a more general, objective state, he began to like it.

These processes resemble scientific experiments in that something wants to be discovered. A simple process is put into play, to scan the material in a netrual manner, with the hope of revbealing the nature of things. The process cannot be altered along the way, for fear of missing something. It's a very useful procedure for acoustic exploration. I heard two solo works on this week's New Music Forum [at UCSD] that used similar processes: Rob Wannamaker's Violin and Nicholas Hennies' piece for solo vibraphone. In the Hennies piece, the percussionist repeatedly taps a single bar on the vibraphone without varying tempo or dynamics. The result is syncopation caused by the damping properties of the metal bar. It was hard to believe that the player wasn't changing the rhythm with dynamic accents. (The magic of an uninterfered-with system.) Perhaps I am being a bit partial by pointing out these works. If you had heard my triangle piece the other night you would know why. Almost all the student works I have looked at this week have explored the acoustical characteristics of musical instruments to greater or lesser degrees, leading me to think that this adventurousness will continue well into the future. I hope so.


A second subject that Rosen takes up is the opposition of composition and realization. (Harold Bloom would probably say the "agon" between the composer and the performer.) Much has been said about the disappearance of the composer. The overwhelming abundance of music-making in the world is improvised, that is, performed without written scores. Rosen suggests that the dwindling of the so-called classical music audience is due to the lack of piano playing in the home and further the piano and 4-hand piano arrangements of symphonies and such. When those amateurs went to symphony concert they understood the music being played. That doesn't happen much any more. Certainly the prevalence of young people playing in rock bands has taken the place of the 19th century piano-based at home chamber music." What we have in its place is an astonishing number of young people who are active in performing for their own pleasure and for a few friends." Their instruments are electric keyboards, guitars, saxophones and percussion. (I wonder how many rock bands there are on this campus.) Rosen says that now "realization becomes all." Rather than the disappearance of the composer we have improvisers, composers in real time.

There have been recent explorations of new music by pop groups. Sonic Youth (not to be confused with the Sonic Arts Union) recently came out with a CD of pieces by Pauline Oliveros, Christian Wolff, Jim Tenney, John Cage and others. A group of Steve Reich's pieces has been re-mixed. A friend of mine said that a group called A Tribe Called Quest mentioned that they were interested in my "I am sitting in a room". Perhaps this is an omen of things to come. Pop music has its own traditions which influence how it performs experimental works. Often they can't tolerate the long durations, the patience required for certain pieces. Sonic Youth shortened Steve's Pendulum Music (perhaps with his approval), and added sounds to Jim's tam tam piece. If this music is to survive it must be able to tolerate these reworkings. One still has the originals, after all.

Care must be taken to avoid real betrayal, even with the best intentions, of the basic ideas of the works. There have been ill-advised interpretations of several of the works of the composers discussed above. In one recorded version of Christian Wolf's For 1, 2, or 3 People, for example, the performers, not wanting to look inept, have rehearsed the coordinations beforehand, then played them with confidence and professional aplomb. (You are not supposed to know beforehand what will happen from moment to moment. The work is based on the idea of coordinations. Sometimes they make you look hesitant, amateurish.) In a recent recording of Feldman's Piece for 4 Pianos a single pianist overdubs the parts. I can hear him inserting sonorities when he thinks they should come in, to fill in gaps in the texture. In both cases, the performers, by fixing their parts, have closed the music. If they played it as it is supposed to be played, it would retain its open quality. I can't use these recordings in my classes. It's a shame.

Advice to young composers: Read Testaments Betrayed, by the Czech writer, Milan Kundera. It is basically about the abuses of translation, including the refusal of translators to use the same verb several times, even though the author saw fit to do so. They must show their erudition by using synonyms, thereby changing meanings. But there are many musical examples, too, including Bernstein's elongation, by means of rubato, of an assymetrical motive in Stravinksky's Sacre, making it symmetrical and ordinary in the process. When performers add their own interpretation to a piece, it often means imposing an idea that comes from earlier msuic, an idea that they already know. It's a natural tendency, I suppose, but it spoils the freshness of new musical ideas. It retains the past, blocks the future.


In his essay, Charles Rosen spends lot of time on improvisation, pointing out examples that have acheived classical stauts, such as Art Tatum and Miles Davis. For a long time I have been confused about this music as long as I felt that it was based on habit and memory. I had been devoted to Cage's idea of freeing the musician from habit and memory, in order to attain a certain expansiveness in awareness. But I was not aware of recent trends that has taken the improviser far from those heroic golden solos. Ron Kuivila, a colleague of mine, curated a conference at Wesleyan last year called "The Free World". He took the phrase which came into vogue after World War II and applied it to two strands of music making in America. One, the indeterminism of John Cage and David Tudor and, two, free jazz. I felt that it opened up an expanse of experience for the musician and the listener.

I also remembered that most of the works of my friends in the early years of our activity were executed without written scores. Each piece had a particular configuration of electronic equipment that took the place of a written score. Often we didn't need any prior rehearsals. We simply played into and occasionally interacted with the equipment. In Gordon Mumma's Hornpipe, for example, the player tests the acoustic space by playing random French Horn sounds into the room. A box of electronic equipment (Gordon's Cybersonic Console) picks up and analyzes the resonances that come back from the architecture. There was no way for Gordon to pre-compose these sounds. They had to be created in real time as he heard what was happening. I guess that's improvisation. I can't pre-determine exactly what the players will play in Vespers, which you heard the other night. They simply accept the task of moving through a darkened room, orienting themselves sonically. The space is the score.

Several years ago I played a version of my old North American Time Capsule with Anthony Braxton. I freely mixed 8 channels of tape material I had made in 1967 with a Sylvania vocoder. As I did so, Anthony played alto saxophone along with my barrage of sounds. I suppose you could say he was interacting with my sounds, but there was so much distance between his sounds and mine, there seemed to be no connection. Or the connection-interaction was so processed by Anthony's quick thinking, the whole thing seemed free of influences. (I guess I have to say I find interaction oppressive.) It felt completely open. I didn't feel as if we were "improvising"; we were simply playing the piece. It resembled automatic writing.

I have to tell you a story about call and response. About 10 years ago, I went to India to collaborate with a group of Indian musicians. One of the things I brought with me was a set of recordings of indoor spaces at Wesleyan. I recorded the concert hall, a teaching room, a hall way and so forth. I hoped to play these environments into the Indian spaces, superimposing them on there acoustics. I thought the musicians could sing and play with the resonant frequencies of the rooms. One of the recordings was of Crowell Hall which has enormous windows. In the winter, they contract and expand, producing loud cracks. Every time there was a crack from a window the tabla player would hit his drum. That's what he is taught to do. He was a good drummer and was doing his job. The results were horrible. It was so predictable it drove me crazy. I didn't know what to do. During a rehearsal, Joe Reed, a colleague of mine from the English Department, came in and stood in the doorway. I asked him what I should do. He said, "Why don't you ask the drummer to hit his drum before he hears a crack in the window?" I did and that solved the problem. The drummer had to predict the future, not simply respond to the past. Call and response is a means to close music, not open it up. It's like saying "skoal!" That's a way to control drinking, making sure that everyone gets drunk at the same time. It used to drive me crazy in Sweden after a concert. Your sponsor would say "skoal" at periodic intervals. You had to drain your glass. You couldn't get drunk at your own pace. (or not get drunk at all.) So everyone got drunk in 4/4 time, even if they didn't want to.


Circumscribing the Open Universe, by Thomas DeLio, University of America Press, consists of essays on several of the composers I have mentioned in this talk, as well as poets Charles Olsen and sculptor Robert Irwin, who "have embraced the notion of openness as a mechanism for shifting the focus of an artwork, thereby placing the image of an emerging consciousness at the center of the aesthetic experience". On page 3 he says: "Thus within the open work content becomes substantially the same as process as it is engulfed by that perpetual state of immanence which is the essence of each individual's experience of being in the world". "In its most characteristic manifestation, the open work seems to be one in which perception replaces object". "Traditional notions of expression and drama become irrelevant as all vestige of priorness is replaced by process." I can imagine a future music which is more concerned with listening than composing or performing.

In the visual works of Robert Irwin--you have one right in your back yard [as a part of the Stuart Collection at UCSD]--there is often almost nothing there to see or touch. What is there may be only a slight alteration of the environment--an almost invisible sheet of photographic film on the windows or a scrim which filters the light. When one is in the presence of an Irwin sculpture, one becomes aware of how one is perceiving the work rather than perceiving the work itself. The viewer is in a very different position vis a vis the work. He is watching himself, not an object. Here are a few quotes from Irwin who lives, by the way, in nearby San Diego. Here are three quotes from a recent show of Irwin's at the Dia Foundation in New York:

"To be an artist is not a matter of making paintings or objects at all. What we are really dealing with is our state of consciousness and the shape of our perception."

"The act of art has turned to a direct examination of our perceptual processes."

"There is an essential kind of knowing, which comes from a purely phenomenological basis."

I recently visited the garden that Irwin designed for the Getty Center in Los Angeles. It was almost more beautiful to watch the people visiting the garden than the garden itself. They seemed to be in a special frame of mind, feeling the spaces, rather than paying attention to the plantings. I can't prove that but I'll say it anyway.


Years ago I asked Bob Ashley what he thought the future of music might be. He said, "Pops and clicks." I never forgot that. It was around the time Bob was composing his String Quartet Describing The Motions of Large Real Bodies. Let me remind you that for the duration of this piece, the string players are asked to bowed slack strings extremely slowly--one bow per 10 minutes, if you can imagine--bearing down hard. The result is that discrete pulses are produced instead of smooth bowed string sounds. It seems to me that this piece dramatized the transition between the analog and the digital environment we were going through at the time. Analog bowing created digital pulses. Even without the electronic processing that is called for in the score, plenty of natural resonances and timbre changes were produced.

Every year I ask my undergraduate students to choose music for their funerals. They react, naturally, with horror. The thought of their own deaths is so far in the future they can't even imagine it. For my own funeral, in the not so near future I hope, I would choose among works of my friends, including David Behrman's Runthrough and a recent piece that Christian Wolff wrote for my 70th birthday, an excerpt from Bob's quartet. The pulses sound to me like the sound of rigging on a sailboat, to take me to the Western Lands.

I asked Peter Hoyt, a colleague of mine at Wesleyan: What will become of this music? He said it would be played by those who care about it. My sister Louise said, "There will always be wonderful music." I think they are both right.

I remember a lovely work called "Loverfinches" by the German artist Carsten Hoeller which documented the following story: A rich man wanted to woo a lovely young woman. He asked his bird keeper to train the birds on his estate to sing a love song, popular at that time. He invited the lady over to his mansion. She heard the love songs and was so touched she fell in love with the man and married him. Even now, many years later, remnants of that song may be heard in the vocabulary of the birds in that forest.

Sometimes I think that some of the ideas I have discussed--indeterminacy, focus, reduction of metaphor, awareness of one perceiving a musical work--will remain as remnants in future music.

Advice to young composers: Read Italian writer Italo Calvino's Norton Lectures at Harvard, "Six Memos for the Next Millennium". Each lecture is devoted to an attribute or characteristic he predicts for the future. Among them are: Quickness; Exactitude: Visibility; Multiplicity; and Lightness (not as a feather but as a bird). Young composers should think about these.


I would like to end with Sferics, a recording of electromagnetic disturbances in the ionosphere. I especially wanted to include it here because it was the result of a project I was involved with at UCSD, in 1968. Pauline Oliveros invited me here to try to receive sferics--that's the scientific term, by the way--on and around the UCSD campus. We talked some electrical engineering students into building us a radio receiver and proceeded to extend a couple of hundred feet of hook-up wire as an antenna down and across a canyon around here somewhere. Nothing much happened. All we got was hum and a good bit of static. We persevered, however, and made a presentation out on a glider park overlooking the ocean. We didn't get any sferics but did hear signals from aircraft flying over to Vietnam. Years later, in 1980 to be exact, I discovered that, with a pair of home-made antennas and a cassette tape recorder, I could get beautiful sferics. All I had to do was get away from power lines, to avoid hum. I managed this by driving a jeep up into the Colorado mountains one August and setting my two home-made antennas up against some bushes, far enough apart to get stereo, about 8 feet. I recorded all night, changing the position of the antennas every hour, to change the stereo field. The result is a telescoping of 8 hours of material into an 8-minute recording. Here it is.