Adam Zygmunt, composer

Paper Moon (2002)
concept, choreography, and text by Tammy Metz Starr
music by Adam Zygmunt

About the dance: Paper Moon reflects a year-long journey of writing, inquiry into dance and technology performance, and collaboration with artists of text, video, sound and movement. I am often compelled by the simplicity of childhood songs and games, ritual in play, and the timelessness found in play, ritual, and performance. This piece is an attempt to shape the environments of those notions. Warm thanks are extended to Adam Zygmunt for his eloquent and thoughtful sound score, Dan Kelley for a poignant video and editing guidance, the UPD students for their consistent hard work, Steve Boone for his sincere and seamless lighting and props, and Dane and Summit Starr for being Dane and Summit.
-Tammy Metz Starr

About the music: Although my contribution to the music for Paper Moon is electronic, one of my main goals was to create an organic, natural-sounding score that relies heavily on music technology, yet avoids adding an overly high-tech sheen to what is essentially a timeless fable. Both the imagery within Tammy Starr's text and a recording of the text itself (here read by UPD member Jennifer Page) served as a framework for the composition. The music is based entirely on recordings of sounds of objects from the text (such as scissors, crumpling paper, clapping, etc.), various sulings (Indonesian bamboo flutes), and electronic noise, processed and rearranged with the aid of a computer. This performance also includes a live element during Tammy's solo improvisational dance during which I use a computer to process and recombine sounds from the rest of the piece in real time.
-Adam Zygmunt

Beat , Beat II, Beat III (2001)

Beat is an exploration of acoustical interference patterns produced by layering numerous precisely tuned (or detuned) sine waves, and the interconnections among timbre, pitch and rhythm that result.

Beat II and III are variations on Beat. All three pieces have exactly the same blueprint, but the basic material (originally a sine wave) is replaced with other sounds in these variations.

Fade to Red (1999)

Fade to Red is an ode to the music of cheap and tacky horror movies of the late 70's and early 80's. Generally produced with a few analog synthesizers and maybe some beat-up old instruments borrowed from the director's friend, the music in these movies is at one corny, creepy, and entirely lacking in subtlety. Fade to Red is an homage to the sounds and spirit of this music, and humor and authenticity were favored over good tase in composing the piece.

Distant Cycles I and II (1998)
Adam Zygmunt, oboe and synthesizer
Kurt Doles, synthesizer

Distant Cycles I and II are the result of an improvisation with Kurt Doles for my graduate thesis recital. Distant Cycles II is the original improvisation in its entirety. Distant Cycles I is based on an extension of the final section of II, with an overdubbed oboe solo.

The Edge of the Earth (1998)
performed by Taryn West, oboe and English horn
Dustin Ruffell, clarinet and bass clarinet
David Larking, trumpet
Garrett Kirk, trombone
James Ryan, double bass
Jason Dooley, vibraphone
Scott Winship, CD operator
Adam Zygmunt, conductor
February 9, 2000

The Edge of the Earth, composed in 1998 as my master's thesis, is an intensely personal, reflective work. The main means of organization in the piece is the emotional significance I attribute to its various parts. In its composition, I employed whatever styles or compositional techniques seemed suitable for any given moment, then tried to keep my writing as simple and direct as possible. For example, the use of free stochasticism represents in part a lack of control, and the use of ambience and just intonation suggest among other things a distant, celestial perfection. Directions, particularly up and down, also play a major role in the work.

Dark Carnival of the Soul (1997)
an improvisation by
Kurt Doles, synthesizers
Paul Geraci, trumpet and effects
Adam Zygmunt, synthesizers and vocoder

A Long Walk off a Short Pier (1997)
A Long Walk off a Short Pier was written while I was a Music Technology Student at Bowling Green State University. This piece is an experiment in composed stochasticism. Nearly all the musical material is generated with a variety of stochastic techniques. Unlike traditional stochasticism, stochastic techniques are applied on a phrase level, with each phrase in each instrument utilizing the basic building blocks in slightly different ways. The piece was composed as a monolithic C program which generates a score file. Each of the smaller groups of statements generates a particular style of phrase for its instrument within a set time frame. The end result is a piece with a predetermined phrase structure but with quasi-improvisational differences on each run of the C program. For example, some sounds fill a given time frame non-sequentially, reflecting an overall distribution pattern that does not have set melodic implications, whereas pitches and durations of other notes are dependent on the ones preceding in time, resulting in trends in melodic contours (i.e. generally ascending or descending melodic lines).

Signals (1997)

Signals was written while I was a student in the Music Technology classes at Bowling Green State University. The piece represents a variety of signals which come and go, from simple beeping signal beacons to piercing sirens to dark, unusual sounds of unknown origin. The overall effect is to be unearthly and disorienting, though not overtly bizarre. To this end, I made generous use of panned sounds, stretched intervals, and pitch-bending sounds. Most of the melodic material present is in short phrases and small intervals (unisons, seconds, and thirds) which have been pulled slightly out of equal temperament. The sounds used are not particularly rich, with most of them consisting of single oscillators, dual-operator FM sounds, or a few stacked oscillators that have been detuned for warmth. As a result, the piece has a somewhat "classic" sound, reminiscent of some of the early work in electronic music.

Marimba Quartet, I. (1996)
performed by
Jason Brasure, Jim Finkelmeier, Crystal Hendricks, and Nate Oshaben, marimba
Roger B. Schupp, conductor
November 5, 2002