Non Sequitur Music

Fantasy for Violin and Electronic Tape

Composer: James Aikman
Instrumentation: Violin and Tape
Year Composed: 1988
Duration: 6 minutes
Cost: Purchase: $45.00

Program Notes:

The piece is in 5 short sections ranging from lyic and expressive to boldly virtuosic. It owes a debt to the imaginative composer, John Eaton. I was one of his electronic music assistants and our ensemble united with the orchestra and singers for performances of his operas at Indiana University. (He, by the way, was the first to give a live performance of electronic music in the late 50's and early 60's in Rome while he was at the American Academy. He is currently a MacArthur Fellow and Professor of Music at the University of Chicago and has formed his own chamber opera company.) Anyway, I learned to greatly appreciate the beauty of his music, and specifically, his use of quarter-tones. I used quarter-tone inflections in the tape part as everyone will hear.

Snippets of the "live" violin music were sampled, digitally edited and used to provide the bulk of the tape dialogue. I address three basic styles of instrument and tape techniques:

The first is antiphonal music where the soloist and tape alternate passages.

The second involves synchronous music where the soloist does his or her best to stay with the tape. The slight inaccuracies which occur are not specific to instrument and tape music - they happen in just about every concerto I've seen where the conductor has one idea of the "correct" tempo while the soloist is busy projecting a slightly varied interpretation.

The third instrument and tape technique of composing involves a loosely unified, free interplay where exact synchronization is not intended.

In spite of the aforementioned, this piece has its share of trecherous spots but performers have always managed to overcome the difficulties and make real music of it. Recent performances have taken place at the 20th-Century Music Series in Chicago, during festivals, in university settings and at a computer executives' gathering in Silicon Valley.

Non Sequitur Music Publishing
2112 Ontario Street
Bellingham, WA 98229
(360) 733-7145
Copyright © 1998; 2008, Non Sequitur Music Publishing
These pages are continually revised and updated.
Email any questions about this page to