Claude Jumps Today

by Donald Swearingen | 2019

Lend me your ears.

I’m working on adding a large number of musical collections (albums, radio works, live recordings…) and other sound media to the site. But it’s going to take some time to get it all in order, and it will likely remain a work in progress for a while (or more).

In the meantime, I’ll be posting a revolving selection of sound works on this page, drawn from the past 30 years or so of my lifetime involvement in music and sound art. I hope that you’ll check in now and then to listen and see what’s new.

Z Shorts II

Donald Swearingen Repercussions+, 1995

A piece from the mid-nineties made entirely from voice samples of Pamela Z, originally recorded circa 1988 on a Casio FZ10 sampler and later transferred onto a an early Mac Classic computer, where this multitrack composition was created. I’ve known and worked with Pamela for more than 30 years. She is truly une force de la nature.

Ugly Gray Radar Boats

Specimen23 Neurofrantic, 1988

One sunny afternoon in the late eighties, I was driving north down Fillmore street towards the Marina District, before me a sweeping view of a large swath of San Francisco Bay, including the Golden Gate Bridge. To my surprise, I saw moving swiftly through the waters something I’d only ever seen before in movies and magazines: a nuclear submarine, making its way to its home base in Alameda (a naval facility in those days). It was a grim reminder of the existential threat that had hung over us all for some 40 years, and still does 30 years later, though we are less likely to take notice.

It was a grim reminder of the existential threat that had hung over us all for some 40 years… and still does some 30 years later.

In the late 1980s, Donald Swearingen recorded two albums as Specimen 23Neurofrantic and Music for the Social Sciences.

Hence we prepare this brief fanfare.

Camille’s Birthday

Donald Swearingen, 2011

A short work composed for Brooklyn singer-songwriter Camille Frazier in celebration of her 16th birthday. Her parents were introduced by Pamela Z and me, and I spent some of my fondest hours over the years visiting her family and tutoring Camille and her sister Katya in music, math, and science.

Study I

Donald Swearingen SensorSets, 2007

This piece and the next are live recordings performed on a pod of four bend sensors (image), one of a collection of sensor-based MIDI instruments that I designed and use in performances and installations. Study I is a short percussion study employing the spring-like action that results when the sensors are bent and released, to determine the rhythm of the instruments assigned to each sensor.

Click here to learn more about Donald Swearingen’s sensor-based instruments.

Study II

Donald Swearingen SensorSets, 2008

Study II is another live performance using 4 bend sensors. In this case the sensors are mounted on a horizontal bar at a height of 6 feet, and face downward. Clipped to each sensor is a string of beads of varying lengths. When the bead strings are drawn to the side and released, each becomes a pendulum, with a period based on its length. The movements of the individual strings control the production of several bell sounds, resulting in a natural interplay of pitch and rhythm among the voices as the string bead pendulums gradually come to a rest.

When the bead strings are drawn to the side and released, each becomes a pendulum.

Time swept away, as though it had never been.

River Flowing

Donald Swearingen, Nothing Beside Remains, 1997

Composed in memory of my father, who loved cows above all else. He grew up, as did I, in the Ozarks near the Arkansas and Oklahoma border, where his grandfather grazed his herd back and forth across the border. He liked to sing and whistle when we rode in the car, and when I began to work with the sampled whistling sounds that form the basis of this selection, I was immediately reminded of him. When I listen, I see the image of a river flowing steadily through reeds along its bank. One day I will make a short film of that to accompany the piece; but, for now, I find this gentle image of the natural dam where we used to swim a fair stand-in.



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