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Program 550: Speech Music

KALW Broadcast Date: March 8, 2019 | Host: Liam Herb

This Music From Other Minds is dedicated to the American composers who embraced speech, and dialect far beyond the setting of florid poetry. The program features the work of Harry Partch, who’s voice can be heard at the start of the program speaking on the subject of the English language’s usage in “serious” music. Growing up, Partch’s parents often spoke Mandarin to one another in their home. This tendency of theirs fostered an interest in the musical qualities of language in Partch, who did not speak Mandarin and could only hear the melodic contours of their voices.

Also on the program is Robert Ashley, who is best known for his operas and multimedia theater works that often incorporated electronics, extended instrumental and vocal techniques, and surreal intertwining narratives.

The program is then capped off with two relatively short works by composers Kyle Gann and Robert Johnson.

Program Audio

30-Second Spot

Track Info & Links

Title: Dark Brother
Composer: Harry Partch
Performers: Unknown
Recording Title: Enclosure II
Record Label: Innova Records
Catalog Number: 401


Title: Perfect Lives: The Supermarket (Famous People)
Composer: Robert Ashley
Performers: Robert Ashley, “Blue” Gene Tyranny, Jill Kroesen, David Van Tieghem
Recording Title: Perfect Lives: an Opera for Television
Record Label: Lovely Music
Catalog Number: LCD 4917


Title: Custer and Sitting Bull: Custer’s Ghost to Sitting Bull
Composer: Kyle Gann
Performers: Kyle Gann
Recording Title: Custer and Sitting Bull
Record Label: New World Records
Catalog Number: 80801


Title: Universal Phenomenon
Composer: Scott Johnson
Performers: Janet Xiong, sampled voice; Kermit Driscoll, electric bass; Scott Johnson, electric guitar; Michael Lowenstern, clarinets; Mary Rowell, viola; Greg Chudzik, bass; David Cossin, marimba, percussion
Recording Title: Americans
Record Label: Tzadik Records
Catalog Number: 8074

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