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 Synopsis of work and Biography of composer


Howard Sandroff
Howard Sandroff's concert works, written for soloists, mixed chamber ensembles and orchestra, often include live or pre-recorded electronics and have been performed, recorded, published and broadcast by leading musical organizations throughout the world. He is currently Director of the Computer Music Studio and Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Chicago and Professor of Sound Art with the Sound Department of Columbia College. A Chicago native, Howard Sandroff received the Master of Music degree with Honors in Composition from the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University and completed advanced studies in computer music and audio systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His composition teachers have included Robert Lombardo and Ben Johnston. He has received composition fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Athena Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, and research grants from Columbia College, Chicago Artists Abroad, The University of Chicago, the Yamaha Music Foundation and others.
Chant de femmes (1996) for flutes and electronic sounds

In June 1996, I was in Paris for a performance and some work at IRCAM. While loitering, one afternoon, in the Stravinsky Plaza right outside the Pompidou Center I was all of the sudden enveloped by a very numerous group of French women. Everyone was talking, conversations overlapped while one lone man, at the front, spoke in an authoritative manner while pointing to the Pompidou Center. The women ignored him. It finally occurred to me that he was the tour guide and that although none of the women seemed to be listening to his description of the architecture of the building, I was in the midst of a tour. What struck me as most puzzling and interesting was that although my French is “nothing to write home about”, I couldn’t understand a single word. The women must be from the provinces. It wasn’t the Parisian French that I was used to and since I couldn’t find the meaning, all those simultaneous conversations became only sounds. Beautiful, somewhat confusing, but melodic sounds; high pitched, low pitched with a myriad of articulation that hinted at some abstract organization.

It wasn’t until later that evening that I realized that right before ears was Mary Stolper’s piece, the one I was supposed to start immediately upon returning home.

The fruit of this experience is “Chant de femmes” (song of women or women’s song) for flutes and computer generated electronic sounds was commissioned by Mary Stolper, and first performed at her recital in November 1996. The work is in three movements which are performed without pause. The first movement for piccolo, second for alto flute and the third for C flute. A short coda for alto flute follows movement three. The electronic sounds, which are played back directly from a CD, are all processed flutes using a host of signal processing software/techniques. While the final product is not quite the same as the original experience, it is consistent with my musical ideal of using a single, static sound object that, rather than develop, is varied by continually changing associations.


Page updated: 1 September 2003
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