Daria Semegen – Arc: Music for Dancers, for electronics (1977)

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The piece consists of five parts whose themes, tempos, and “orchestrations” are arranged in the shape of an arc (A B C B A). Each section is itself divided into a smaller arc (a b a). After a brief introduction of phrases in groups of three beats each, the first part begins with two motivic elements arranged in a simple question-answer idea: lower range sounds on the beat, and contrasting high echoed flourishes in alternation. Section B introduces both a new tempo and “orchestration” or sound texture, as well as a new motive featuring a tremolo effect on harsh sounds alternated in various patterns from one channel to the other. A six note ostinato appears toward the middle of this section and is gradually integrated into a polyphonic pasage. Section C’s theme resembles an orchestral “tutti” and is followed by a variation of the tremolo idea and echo figurations heard previously. Although the music is essentially tonal and establishes various temporary tonal centers throughout, microtones and the characteristically rich textures of electronic sound sources provide dissonant impressions counterbalancing the tonal aspects.

The work was composed using a Buchla series 200 synthesizer and classic studio techniques. The music tape was synchronized at Bell Telephone Labs with the program of the Mimi Garrard Dance Theatre’s portable computer-controlled lighting system by Mimi Ganard and James Seawright in preparation for Arc’s first presentation in May of 1977. –Daria Semegen

Art by R. H. Quaytman