Label: New World Records
James Tenney is one of the most important American composers and theorists of the past fifty years. For a very long time, his work was known mainly to other musicians and its tremendous influence was belied by its obscurity. In the past twenty years, however, as his music and writings have been more and more published, recorded, performed, and studied, his place in the context of American contemporary music has become far better understood. He has pioneered musical fields as diverse as computer music, tuning theory, and integrating ideas from acoustics and music cognition into his work. Tenney has also been important as a teacher, performer, and scholar of other radical American composers. This CD contains recordings of the complete set of his Postal Pieces, written primarily during a very brief tenure at California Institute of the Arts in the early 1970s. These works, although frequently performed over the years, have not been recorded (with a few exceptions). This recording is a natural and important companion to the recent New World reissue of Tenney’s computer and electronic music from the 1960s. Both collections represent complete, highly individualistic and essential bodies of work by a major American artist. The postal pieces, which Tenney called “Scorecards,” are a remarkable series of eleven short works printed on postcards. Each card contains a complete if minimally stated work to be performed by instrumentalists. These pieces elucidate to a large degree some of Tenney’s bedrock compositional ideas. Each is a kind of meditation on acoustics, form, or hyper-attention to a single performance gesture. This set is essential listening for anyone interested in the evolution of American experimental music.
Cat. number: 80612