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The following is from the Introduction to the upcoming book:

BREAKING THE BROADCAST BARRIER. Radio Art 1980-1994: American Artists making images and telling stories with sound and language. Co-edited by Helen Thorington and Jacki Apple.

Jacki Apple: Art Rangers in Radioland

This book explores and documents the work of seventeen artists -- Terry Allen, Charles Amirkhanian, Jacki Apple, Sheila Davies, Earwax (Barney Jones, Markos Kounalakis, Jim McKee), Rinde Eckert, Shelley Hirsch, Lisa Jones/Alva Rogers, Don Joyce (Negativeland), William Morelock, David Moss, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Rachel Rosenthal, Donald Swearingen, Helen Thorington, Gregory Whitehead -- whose endeavors have significantly defined the American radio art enterprise from 1980 to 1994. Their work characterizes a uniquely American sensibility, culture and landscape, and their diverse voices and visions represent a crossection of our individual and collective histories and experiences. In that sense, all of this work may be seen as a form of cultural autobiography and oral history. mailto:info2

Amirkhanian, Charles: Mental Radio (1994) Classic radiophonic proto-rap with America's lost practitioner of text-sound composition.

Carnahan, Melody Sumner and Sonami, Laetitia : Manananggal (1994) A musical drama about two powerful women who come under each other's influence, thereby releasing unconscious contents.

Curran, Alvin: A Beginner's Guide to Attracting Birds (1995) A tone poem for radio in which the sound of high-tension wires in the wind, the elusive musical hums of the Bay of La Speza (Italy), and many other sounds undergo gradual and continuous digital transformation into the sound of voices.

Davies, Sheila : What Is the Matter in Amy Glennon? (1989) A magnificent postmodern alchemical opus: the story of a woman who lightens her scientific background with the darkness of mythological philosophy.

Eckert, Rinde: Four Songs Lost in a Wall (1995) An elaborate multi-vocal and instrumental piece based on the story of the famous eighteenth-century castrato Carlo Broschi Farinelli.

Joyce, Don and Negativland: Guns! (1989) "The gun and the Bible carved this nation out of the wilderness," a man exclaims. A dense, pulsing "action song" whose verses deal with America's intimate relationship with firearms.

Swearingen, Donald: Salvation at 1 A.M. (1991) A carefully crafted work that takes its inspiration from the myriad of promotional programming on late night cable television.

Thorington, Helen: One to Win (1989) A humorous audio art work that recreates a single event in a horse-racing day from many perspectives, including that of the horse.

Z, Pamela: Parts of Speech (1995) A cohesive audio environment that deals with words as propaganda, words as mantra, words as poetry, words as authority and words as music.

Pamela Z: Parts of Speech (1995)

(p) 1995 Pamela Z. All rights reserved.

Utilizes found texts from advertising, communications systems, buzzwords, and slang. The sound sources for the work are a combination of actual samples from these language elements, and versions rendered by the artist reading, singing, chanting, and processing the language. These fragments are woven together by non-language sounds sampled and composed into a cohesive audio environment that deals with words as propaganda, words as mantra, words as poetry, words as authority, and words as music.


PAMELA Z ( San Francisco, CA) is a composer/performer. She has performed solo in Bay Area clubs and galleries, and throughout the U.S. since 1984. She works primarily with voice, live electronic processing, and sampling technology creating lush textures and frenetic rhythmic structures overlayed with melodic lines and spoken text. Pamela Z has also collaborated on works for dance and experimental theater and produced numerous multimedia performances, featuring her own work and that of other Bay Area artists.

She has created three works for NEW AMERICAN RADIO: Parts of Speech (1995), Trying To Reach You (1990) and Which Is Better? (1988)


The String Movement (1994) A brief, sonic journey into the puzzling world of exotic particles. Using her voice as the only sound source, the artist combines found texts, strange melodies, whispers, gasps, and pronouncements to depict the multidimensional world of particle interaction. The String Movement was developed and recorded during a residency at Yellow Springs Institute in August of 1992 as part of a larger work Exotic Particles.

Trying to Reach You (1990) Text and musical episodes that describe the long, seemingly endless endeavor of trying to locate and communicate with a mysterious, unknown beloved. What is it that keeps the seeker separate from the sought after: language? distance? misunderstanding? Using her extraordinary singing voice and unique brand of music, clusters of other voices and ambient recordings, Pamela Z creates a playful and hauntingly beautiful aural journey.

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.

Which is Better? (1988) A youthful search for an answer to the questions: What is reality? What is fantasy? and Which is better? When she is unable to solve the riddle herself, she turns to others, to a coin-operated information machine and to friends. "This is all very interesting," she remarks, "but not terribly enlightening."

Which is Better? combines expressive operatic solos, in which digital delay creates textures of varying denseness, spare percussion, and brief narrative statements.

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.


Echolocation A solo cassette released in 1988, contains Echolocation, Two Black Rubber Rain Coats, Badagada, Pop Titles 'You', I Know (w/Donald Swearingen), In The Other World, An In (w/Bill Stefanacci) and Scaff Scivi Gno. (ZED)

From A to Z This CD compilation of electro-acoustic composers includes In Tymes of Olde by Pamela Z and Obsession, Addiction and the Aristotelian Curve by Pamela Z and Harpist Barbara Imhoff. Both of these pieces will be included on Pamela Z's solo CD soon to be released on Starkland. Starkland Recordings PO Box 2190 Boulder, CO 80306

State of the Union A CD compilation of one minute ("advertisement" length) pieces produced by Elliot Sharp. Contains State by Pamela Z.

Komotion International Vol. II A compilation which contains Pamela Z's Pearls, the Gem of the Sea. Komotion PO Box 410502 San Francisco 94141-0502

Dice A CD compilation of contemporary women composers produced by Elise Kermani. Contains Bald Boyfriend by The Qube Chix (composed by Pamela Z). Ishtar c/o MiShinnah Productions 343 6th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11215

Donald Swearingen: Salvation at 1 A.M.

(p) Donald Swearingen. All rights reserved.

A carefully crafted work that takes its inspiration from the myriad of promotional programming on late night cable television. Typically they are 30-minute advertisements that imitate the format of talk shows. Anything you want: sex, money, self-esteem, God, celluloid freedom, a full head of hair, property, beauty, an exciting life style... just call 1-800. Call now. What are you waiting for? Put your hand on the TV screen. Feel the power!


DONALD SWEARINGEN (San Francisco, CA) is a composer, musician, sound designer and author, whose musical interests range from the Blues to the Byzantine. After studies in classical music, the pursuit of a career in commercial music, and an assistant professorship at Memphis State University, Swearingen now focuses on electronic and computed music and the digital manipulation of the human voice and other natural sound sources, a sort of "musique concrète" of the digital age. He also designs software. He is the designer of Lucasfilm's THX R2 Audio Spectrum Analyzer, and he has participated in the design of telecommunications systems for such companies as Octel and Network Equipment Technologies. His musical compositions have been commissioned by numerous San Francisco choreographers and theaters. He has produced several releases of original recorded works and has performed extensively in the San Francisco area, utilizing a variety of interactive electronic instruments, many of his own design. During the spring of 1994, he was composer-in-residence at the Djerassi Foundation. He has completed three works for NEW AMERICAN RADIO: We Elect To (1989), Between Fear and Longing: Marginally Stable in San Francisco (1990), and Salvation at 1 A.M.(1991).


Between Fear and Longing: Marginally Stable in San Francisco (1990) One of the first compositions to derive its impetus from the October 1989 San Francisco earthquake. In it, Swearingen explores personal fear and longing as expressed in the words and thoughts of various individuals "overheard" during the earthquake and its aftermath. Interspersed with the spoken texts are snippets of radio broadcasts. All are embedded in a musical context whose rhythms and colors echo those of the spoken words.

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.

We Elect To (1989) A radio opera featuring the voices of seven American presidents and singer Pamela Z., who counterbalances their lofty words with the reality of newspaper headlines. This piece is about the highly charged and emotionally loaded phrases that our leaders employ and which, over the years, acquire a life of their own. In We Elect To they are placed in a musical context, with the music integrated into the flow and rhythm of their words, and their pronouncements highlighted by varying musical styles and moods. Interwoven throughout the piece are continuing references to religious themes and familiar hymns.

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.

Don Joyce and Negativland: Guns!

(p) 1988 Don Joyce and Negativland. All rights reserved.

A dense, pulsing "action song," whose verses deal with America's intimate relationship with firearms: "The gun and the Bible carved this nation out of the wilderness," a man exclaims. A tradition unfolds that links the voices of the past as we know them through television cowboy movies and gangster films, to the modern Annie-Get-Your-Gun, the business woman of the 'eighties with her handy sub-machine gun. An evolving patchwork of movie excerpts and TV ads, statements and information about guns, and of certain phrases repeated like bullets.

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.


DON JOYCE (Oakland, CA) has been working in radio since 1976. He is the producer of the late night show "Over The Edge", in which he and other Negativland members (Mark Hosler, Chris Grigg, David Willis, Richard Lyons) use the entire studio as an instrument to produce a weekly session of live spontaneous sound combustion. Over the last decade Negativland has developed a variety of collaborative and listener interactive ways of presenting their noise/rock/found sound/sound animation compositions, including Radio Teletours "from our house to yours - phone charges only." Joyce and Negativland have produced two works for NEW AMERICAN RADIO: GUNS! (1989), and Advertising Secrets (1991).


A Piddle Diddle Disneyland, Part 1 & 2 (1994) An edited two-part version of a special edition of the long-running "Piddle Diddle Report" -- an "in-depth report on current issues of substance" produced by the American Broadcasting System (ABS). This Piddle Diddle special brings us live and remote to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, where a communicastor's booth has been build high atop the slightly swaying, but structurally reliable Matterhorn. The occasion: an all-night gala to celebrate the opening of a huge parking garage just outside the park, a beautiful structure with its own exit off the freeway. From their privileged position, hosts Doug Piddle and Peter Diddle along with the Weatherman and Rex Everything (the famous but unpublishable author) draw an animated picture of the past, present, and future of this amusing amazement area.

Advertising Secrets (1991) A dynamic blend of rhythmic elements and original audio constructs -- actual ad jingles, lines and phrases -- commentary by and about advertisers -- books on tape materials about how commercials are conceived and created -- plus various out-takes from commercial productions which depict the sophisticated process (and elaborate cynicism) of the professionals involved. "My motivation is to inspect and depict some of the paradoxical aspects of media advertisement which both attract and repel me as an artist in America -- a society whose entire economic well being rests solely on consumerism and the need to manufacture want." (Don Joyce)

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.

Time Zones (1990). A radio talk-show approach to the question: how many time zones are there in the Soviet Union?


A Catalog of Negativland products is available. Contact: Negativmailorderland 109 Minna #391 San Francisco, CA 94105

Rinde Eckert: Four Songs Lost in a Wall (1995)

(p) 1995 Rinde Eckert. All rights reserved.

An elaborate multi-vocal and instrumental piece that combines the story of the famous eighteenth century castrate Carlo Broschi Farinelli, who was commissioned by King Philip V of Spain to sing the same four songs every night, and the ancient cautionary tale of the emperor and the nightingale. In Eckert's story the two come together in the figure of Carlo, a manic-depressive recluse listening through the walls of his room to the lives unfolding on the other sides. Carlo is in possession of an antique mechanical bird that he winds obsessively every night in the belief that the world is put into motion anew every morning by the working of this elaborate music box. With original music by Eckert, performed by Eckert with Jim Kassis, Will Bernard and Clark Suprynowicz. The work was produced by Lee Townsend, Berkeley, CA.

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO!


RINDE ECKERT (Nyack, New York) is a singer, writer, composer, actor, and director known internationally for the remarkable flexibility and inventiveness of his singing voice. His solo pieces and collaborations with other composers, dancers, and musicians have been performed throughout North America and abroad. Long celebrated for his performances in multi-media with the Paul Dresher Ensemble and the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, his more recent work as a solo artist had also attracted considerable attention. John Rockwell, critic for the New York Times has described Eckert as "the most exciting performance artist this writer has encountered since the early days of Laurie Anderson."


Cold War Diary (1990) A thought-travelogue. Somewhere in Europe a woman stands at her hotel window. She looks out over a public square, contemplates the monuments, writes mental postcards, and more importantly, asks about a person apparently missing. An intriguing blend of new music/audio art and performance.

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.

Shoot The Moving Things (1987-89) The story of an early morning hunting trip, told by the artist using electronic voice manipulations, evocative sound, and his exceptional singing voice. The music is Eckert's own - original new age, rap, rock, and country gospel. It drives his narrative along giving intensity and passion to its unfolding. Shoot The Moving Things was created for Soundings (KPFK, Los Angeles, Jacki Apple host) and High Performance Magazine in 1987 and reworked for NEW AMERICAN RADIO in 1989.

Sheila Davies: What Is the Matter in Amy Glennon? (1989)

(p) 1989 Sheila Davies. All rights reserved.

"A magnificent postmodern alchemical opus, the story of Amy Glennon who faces the dark ground of herself and thereby transmutes her bitterness into wisdom, who unites her matter and mind, and who redeems a human soul from the body of a putrefying snake -- all toward the fruitful marriage of pure science and mythological philosophy." (from the work).

Winner of a Special Commendation at the 1991 PRIX FUTURA Berlin.

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.


SHEILA DAVIES (Berkeley, CA) studied short story writing at the University of Oregon, San Francisco State University, and Mills College. She is a past member of the vocal trio Girls Looking for Husbands. Her work as an experimental writer, singer, and radio producer has been aired on KPFA (Berkeley), and through National Public Radio. Together with her husband, graphic designer Patrick Sumner, Davies also created One of One, (Burning Books), an art book in magazine form. She has completed two works for NEW AMERICAN RADIO: What Is the Matter in Amy Glennon? (1989) and The Opponent's Queen: Detail (1990).


The Opponent's Queen: Detail (1990) A strategy of moves between two players who are interested in preserving passion through competition. Speculations, emotions and philosophies are developed through meetings and endings as the opponents struggle to maintain their highest forms. Derived from the epistolary novel, The Opponent's Queen, written in collaboration with Melody Sumner Carnahan.

Created especially for NEW AMERICAN RADIO.

Alvin Curran: A Beginner's Guide to Attracting Birds (1995)

(p) 1995 Alvin Curran (BMI). All rights reserved.

A tone-poem for radio that draws on a number of never-used sounds from the composer's archives, as well as newly recorded materials such as the magical singing tones of high-tension wires in the wind, and the elusive musical hums of the Bay of La Speza (Italy). These sounds are as much about acoustic spaces as they are about geographical ones, and while all vastly different, are powerful sources of natural melody, rhythm, and harmony. Above all they are sounds that suggest the presence of "voices", human, ghostly or otherwise. The definitive character of A Beginner's Guide to Attracting Birds is given by the gradual and continuous digital transformation of these sounds into those of human voices. The work culminates in the slow emergence of John Cage's voice, based on fragmented samples of his Charles Eliot Norton Lectures (1988/89).

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.


ALVIN CURRAN (New York City/Oakland/Rome) makes music with all means, anywhere, and for all occasions. From rarefied string quartets to blaring ship-horn concerts to underground sound-installations; from computerized ram's horns to MIDI grand pianos to international simulcasts -- these are his natural laboratories. He began composing at Brown University under Ron Nelson and completed his studies at Yale with Elliot Carter. Following a year with Carter in Berlin, he moved to Rome -- his adopted home -- and began his career in the American experimental music tradition. There he cofounded the legendary group Musica Elettronica Viva (with Frederic Rzewski and Richard Teitelbaum). In the early seventies, he struck out on the path of solo performance producing a series of pieces for taped natural sounds, synthesizer, flugelhorn, voice, piano, and found objects that built his reputation as a new music composer in Europe and the United States. In 1992 he was nominated the Milhaud Professor of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, California, where he is today. His recent recordings are available on New Albion, Catalyst (BMG), CRI, Tzadik, Centaur and Mode labels.

Melody Sumner Carnahan and Laetitia Sonami: Manananggal (1994)

(p) 1994 Laetitia Sonami (BMI). All rights reserved.

With Marie Goyette (sound score, production and voice). A musical drama originally commissioned for stage by STEIM, Amsterdam. The story is about two powerful women who come under each other's influence, thereby releasing unconscious contents. Each begins to see the other as evil, bringing to life a type of vampire -- a woman who can cut her body in half -- the once metaphorical beast, known in Philippine folklore as "the manananggal." During the unraveling of their history, the two again draw close, the leitmotif of each is firmly underscored as she projects onto the other woman emotions and elemental forces she has repressed in herself.


MELODY SUMNER CARNAHAN (Santa Fe, NM) received an MFA in writing from Mills College, where she began working with composers, including Robert Ashley. The author of story collections, The Time Is Now and Thirteen (Burning Books), and a Tibetan man's biography, In the Presence of My Enemies (Clear Light), she has published thirty works of fiction and essay in periodicals and anthologies including the San Francisco Chronicle and the City Lights Review. Experimental Intermedia Foundation commissioned a one-hour radio program featuring her collaborative works with composers, and other programs featuring her writing have been aired by KPFA, Berkeley, WEVL, Memphis, and CFUV in Victoria, Canada. She has co-created two works with Laetitia Sonami for NEW AMERICAN RADIO: Manananggal (1994) and The Bench (1995).

MARIE GOYETTE (Berlin, Germany) studied piano at McGill University and with Radu Lupu in London. Since 1989 she has been working in the field of electronic music. As part of her vocal and musical composition for Manananggal she developed her electronic shoes and belt during a residency at STEIM in Amsterdam.

LAETITIA SONAMI (Oakland, CA) has been performing live electronic solo works for the past fifteen years in numerous venues in the United States and abroad, including Merkin Hall and The Kitchen (NYC), and Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria. She has been awarded residencies at STEIM in Amsterdam, where she composed and premiered new works utilizing gestural controllers she developed and adapted for musical performance. Her music has been recorded on Imaginary Landscapes (Elektra Nonesuch), Jewel Box (Tellus 26), and Another Coast (Music & Arts). Sonami created the soundscores, produced and performed two NEW AMERICAN RADIO works based on stories by Melody Sumner Carnahan: Manananggal (1994) and The Bench (1995).


The Bench (1995) The story takes place in a city square. It depicts an episode in the lives of two street people, a man and a woman, as observed by a narrator who watches from her hotel balcony. Focusing in, the narrator begins to "hear" fragments from the minds of the lovers: The young man, once a classical pianist, now produces a hellish blues, which fuses with the courtyard's musique concrete, with shards of his narcissistic dreams, and with dehydrated strings of the older woman's distorted understanding. The narrator doesn't move to interfere, yet she is compelled by what she witnesses: Is the woman rescuing or destroying the young man? Does he need her or is he trying desperately to get away?

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.

Charles Amirkhanian: Mental Radio

(p) 1990 Arts Plural Publishing (BMI). All rights reserved.

Classic radiophonic proto-rap with America's lost practitioner of text-sound composition.

The work includes a 100th birthday salute to musicologist Nicolas Slonimsky, who achieved the century mark on 27 April 1994, in Los Angeles. Mental Radio is a retrospective of Amirkhanian's classic analog speech tapes along with some recent Synclavier digital updates: Radii (1971), Chu Lu Lu (1991), Just (1972), Heavy Aspirations (1973), Vers Les Anges (1990), Dot Bunch (1981), and Mugic (1974).

Mental Radio was produced expressly for NEW AMERICAN RADIO.

Vers les Anges is available on: Starkland Records ST-203 803 Spruce, Boulder, CO 80302 (303) 449-6510 (303) 447-8762 fax


Charles Amirkhanian (Woodside, CA) is a composer, percussionist, sound poet, and radio producer. For many years music director at KPFA-FM in Berkeley, Amirkhanian was also founding co-director of the acclaimed Composer-to-Composer Festival in Telluride, Colorado. He has produced numerous works for international venues such as radio station Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), Cologne, Germany, and Swedish radio. An internationally known radio artist, Amirkhanian is currently executive director of the Djerassi Resident Artist Program in Woodside, California. He has produced two major works with commissions from NEW AMERICAN RADIO: Politics As Usual (1988) and Walking Tune (A Room Music for Percy Grainger) (1986-87). A third -- Miatsoom (or Reunion in Armenian) -- is upcoming in 1996.


Politics as Usual (1988) A series of audio explorations incorporating both abstract (instrumental) and representational (ambient) sounds, processed in the Synclavier studio of Henry Kaiser. Featured are the gong collections of Lou Harrison and Toni Marcus and an assortment of talking parrots.

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO. Available on CD: Centaur CRC 2194-8867 Highland Road, Suite 206 Baton Rouge, LA 70808 (504)336-9678 (fax)

Pas de Voix (Portrait of Samuel Beckett, 1986-7) (1987) "An impressionistic, cyclical, narrative sound portrait, touching on various aspects of Samuel Beckett's life." (Amirkhanian) Created from ambient recordings of the lobby of Beckett's apartment building, the open-air Metro stop across the street, the bells of Notre Dame, a sound sculpture plus some extended-technique electric guitar sounds and a selection of sonic bodily functions. Commissioned by Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Cologne, Germany.

Available on CD: Perspectives of New Music PNM 26 School of Music DN-10 University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 (Non-commercial CD issued with PNM Journal 26)

Walking Tune (A Room-Music for Percy Grainger) (1986-7) An homage to Australian-American composer Percy Grainger. Grainger's Walking Tune for solo piano was conceived in 1900 during a tramp through the Scottish Highlands. In this work Amirkhanian uses the Synclavier digital synthesizer-- a tool Grainger would have embraced eagerly--to combine sounds recorded out-of-doors (tramping in Utah; the shriek of geese; a swarm of humming birds) with musical sounds, and he shapes a sensual and powerful sound-music piece that is true to Grainger's own song of praise to the natural world.

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.