Friday, October 29, 2010

James Tenney - Selected Works 1961-1969 (Frog Peak, 2001)

Tenney is different things for different people. Some know his writings, others his piano work, others his percussion pieces. He was also one of the early proponents of computer music. The first couple tracks here are tape pieces, one of them a mangling of Elvis' "Blue Suede Shoes". Often he uses computer algorithms to determine different parameters of the sound. He used those same stochastic processes to dictate a player piano scroll, also heard here. The last track is one of my favorite bits of electronic music, using Shepard tones to simulate a continuously rising note. During my college radio days, I used to play this during talk sets and it made every pause in speech extremely difficult to overcome. The magic is in how, despite the processes sometimes coming off as technical and formal, Tenney pulls each piece off in ways that are engaging and even funny. He is without question a master of all his crafts.

Selected Works
& in .flac


  1. Love it.

    Shepard tones are endless fun.
    aboombong used one on this...

  2. Glad you folks like it.

    @icastico: Digging that aboombong track. Thanks for sharing.