Jerry Hunt: Song Drapes (1992)


Musicworks 65As described in the article Unlikely Persona: Jerry Hunt, the Song Drapes are precomposed accompaniments to unspecified texts, which can be delivered vocally in any manner desired by the performer. Three of the Drapes are recorded on the Musicworks #65 CD accompanying the article:

  1. Song Drape 2 (realized April 1996 by Michael Schell -- duration 5:50)
  2. Song Drape 1 (unrealized -- duration 4:48)
  3. Song Drape 11 (unrealized -- duration 6:20)

Drape 1 and 11 are recorded in their "raw" form, and can be completed by following Jerry's directions (below). Drape 2 is presented in a realization by Michael Schell. This performance features some tape-recorded phone conversations of Texas' most famous political figure, who is heard speaking to his wife, a patronized beautician and an intimidated US Senator. Stephen Housewright comments:

"Jerry's music and [Mike's] overlay of LBJ's words caught it beautifully: the Texas myth and manner, the self-described modest and poor wheeler-dealers playing for huge stakes, good ol' boys spitting profanity along with their tobacco, and rising to positions of power where they shape our lives. The horror and the comedy of it are both there -- and that would have appealed to Jerry very much I think, that telling combination. I was very much moved by the work..."

This setting is also available on Innova 114, a CD released in 1997 of works by different composers featured in the Sonic Circuits festival. You may hear an audio sample by clicking on one of the links below. You will need the Real Player to hear the samples:

Mono lo-fi (33.3 Kbps modem connection or slower)
Stereo hi-fi (56 Kbps modem connection or faster)

Tzadik.CDIn June 1999 Tzadik released a CD featuring performances of various Song Drapes by Karen Finley (Jerry's original collaborator), Shelley Hirsch and Mike Patton. The Tzadik release also includes instrumental interludes created by Jerry in his studio for use in The Finley-Hunt Report, which he and Karen Finley presented in 1993. There are also some interesting liner notes contributed by Rod Stasick and Stephen Housewright.


Jerry Hunt's notes on Song Drapes:

These song backgrounds were devised as settings for some vocal performance texts of Karen Finley for the Kitchen production Finley-Hunt Report in New York during 1992.

A variety of approaches were discussed during the making of this material, but after some consideration, I decided to provide the most conservative and direct solution possible: a narrow intense through-composed wave-response to each of Karen's text associations and feelings. Several technical approaches were also considered, and again the most conservative approach was taken: a two-channel narrow-focus compact form of several permanent and irreducible features of the song background character. After this initial decision, the ways in which the multiple variations become possible are evident, and this paper attempts to list the principal guidelines for making a performance application using the Song Drapes.

  1. the digital two-track must always appear as part of each Song Drape
  2. some form of vocal communicative performance must always be used: I encourage the singer-vocalist to find any number of subordinate melody phrases through the songs, reinforce new aspects, suppress existing characteristics, etc., as the material requires (this was and continues to be within the program definition of these work Song backgrounds)
  3. some extractive percussion layer must always be produced in the space of performance with the vocalist: this rhythmic layer is very important for alignment of phrase rhythmic and pulse shifts which vary and are ambiguous in the original material.
  4. extensions for voice lines are always justified with the capacities of the base master channel pair to support the extensions (this allows a variety of chorus sung and spoken material, etc.)
  5. reorganization of the base master track pair is permitted to the extent that this reorganization does not obliterate or undermine the clear rhythmic and harmonic intent of the Song Drapes.

- Jerry Hunt 1993

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Original Material Copyright  1993-6 by Stephan Housewright, Jerry Hunt and Michael Schell. HTML Coding Copyright  1999 by Michael Schell. All Rights Reserved.