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Seven deadly Sins, for Voice and Electronics, electro-acoustic music, texts by Maurya Simon

Seven deadly Sins, electro-acoustic music
for Voice and Electronics, texts by Maurya Simon

A few years ago, Margaret Frazier asked me to write her a piece for soprano and electronics that would 'stretch her vocal limits' (Frazier's own words).
I chose a set of poems, Seven Deadly Sins, by Maurya Simon who teaches in the Creative Writing Department at the University of California, Riverside.
I first discovered Simon twenty-three years ago, and have been inspired by her writings ever since. Her texts have been the source of a number of choral works, my opera Tamar, and Seven Deadly Sins.

In this piece, the electronics interacts with the live voice as if it were another acoustic instrument: it echoes the voice, anticipates it, accompanies it, and creates various moods and backgrounds.

To achieve these various effects, I had to pre-record Margaret's voice. I asked her to read sentences and phrases from both The Book of Vices, by R. J. Hutchinson, and from Simon's Seven Deadly Sins (from her recent publication Ghost Orchid). Ms. Frazier was to read the text using different effects: normal, whispered, theatrical, and half sung tones. She was also asked to laugh, moan, and yell. All this gave me the base material to start working on the electronic piece. I could then digitally distort her voice, stretch it, shorten it, make it higher, lower, add echoes, and superimpose portions of the texts. I also used some piano sounds and a few other instruments in the midst of the dense texture.

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