Prepared Electronic Tapes

FZ album(s) in which song has appeared


FZ, The Steve Allen Show, March, 1963

The tape is pre-recorded electric noises that uh, I stuck together. I gave my wife a clarinet and told her to play it, and uh, she doesn't play a clarinet. [...] But then I did some electric things to it, and it's very interesting. You hear a woman singing in there someplace, I, I recorded it off the radio, and stuck it in.

FZ, Mount St. Mary's College, May, 1963

I would like to play for you part of the electronic tape which will be integrated into the Opus 5 for the orchestral group. [...] The sounds that you will hear are produced by actual musical instruments. The only thing that makes this different than any other kind of music you'll hear, is the fact that the instruments that are being played are being played by people who don't know how to play those instruments.

For instance, you will hear a clarinet on this tape recording which is played by my wife, who does not play a clarinet. And you will also hear banjo music played by another fellow who doesn't know how to play a banjo.

These things were then subjected to electronic alterations. For instance, they were pumped through echo chambers. They are reverberated. They are run through a tremolo device, which sends a tone of low cycle which modulates the rest of what's happening on the tape.

After all these modifications were completed to the original musical sounds, the tape was then cut up at, uh . . . in random order, we just chopped it up, and stuck it back together again any way that the pieces happened to fall together, so it was totally improvised. [...]

The instruments that you're hearing on this part of the tape are vibraphone, marimba, banjo, bassoon, clarinet, violin, bongo drums, and, uh, there's a flute in there someplace too.

Bulk of this recording was produced on a small Webcor tape recorder, which I rented from a store downtown for $2.50. And if any of you have the inclination, you might rent yourself a small tape recorder and try this too in your own home. It is really very interesting.

Michael Brenna, a.f.f-z, March 26, 2011

The prepared tape segments on the left channel of 'The Moon' and 'Mousie' are most certainly from the same batch as the ones used at Mount St. Mary's and the Steve Allen show. I think one or two snips from the XMASage electroacoustic tracks actually can be heard in the bicycle concerto.

The instrumental tracks on the right channel are mainly woodwinds with some plucking and hitting of string instruments, plus an occasional piano note. The ensemble sounds a bit more like Steve Allen than Mount. St. Mary's (Opus 5 features brass and quite prominent drums, and Piece No 2 has a sax). However, it could be from rehearsals prior any of these performances. I know of no other FZ events with this kind of music being performed on classical instruments during that period. The WGS and RHS soundtrack sessions would probably be more straight jobs, with hardly any time for organized impro experimentation. At Pal Studios I suppose FZ only did the tape preparations, and no live recordings with classically trained musicians. The basic recordings for these tapes were field recordings on portable, rented equipment.

By the way, there is a stupid quote of the Blue Danube towards the end of 'The Moon Will Never Be The Same', which illustrates exactly what FZ wanted to avoid. As he stated at Mount St. Mary's: "When we were rehearsing, I just explained to them, I didn't want any scale practicing, and I didn't want any fooling around of that sort, and playing of little tunes in there."



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This page updated: 2016-11-06