Art &Technology
- Soundart - Charles Amirkhanian

Composer, poet, and percussionist Charles Amirkhanian is one of the leading United States exponents of text-sound composition, the intermedium between music and literature. Born January 19, 1945 in Fresno, California, Arnirkhanian is largely self-taught as a composer. Since 1969 he has been Music Director of Pacifica listener-sponsored Radio Station KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California, where he has become internationally-known for his comprehensive programmes on avant-garde music, poetry and art.

Since 1965 he has used speech as the primary element in his music. His quixotic and often non-syntactical use of American English treats words as percussion objects, revealing in its intense rhythms the composer's background as a drummer. Humor and irony abound as well, and in performance Amirkhanian uses his tapes as accompaniment for added live vocal lines while enveloped by the moving image projections (films and slides) of visual artist Carol Law.

Using the recording studio as his composing desk, Amirkhanian incorporates tape loops, tape delay, multi-track layering, digital modulation, and synthetic and acoustic percussion tracks in combination with ambient sound recordings to produce enigmatic wordscapes characterized by intense rhythmic activity and abstract objectification of words into sound.

Since 1969, Amirkhanian has developed his current style of restless minimalism in which repeated figures are sustained for short periods of time before giving way to other variations on similar themes.

The sound art samples are taken from the LP Mental Radio, CRI (1985)

Dog of Stravinsky (1982) (3'21")

Dedicated to Richard Pontzious, Allan Ulrich, Robert Commanday, Heuwell Tircuit Voice: "Dashiell Hammett," Belgian sheep hound, courtesy Reynaldo and Jody Terrazas Location recording by Charles Amirkhanian, Oakland, California, October 7, 1979 Engineer: Anders Lundqvist Mixed at EMS, Stockholm, Sweden, October 1982

Church Car, Version 2 (1980-81) (2'55")

Voices: Charles Amirkhanian, Anthony J. Gnazzo Recorded by Anthony J. Gnazzo at California State University, Hayward, 1980 Mixed by Bob Bielecki at ZBS Media, Fort Edward, New York, April 1981

Dot Bunch (1981) (5'35")

Voice; Drum synthesizer: Charles Amirkhanian Engineer: Ed Herrmann, assisted by Christopher Merrick Recorded at KOPN-FM, Columbia, Missouri, September 1981


Hypothetical Moments (1981) (5'31")

Dedicated to Betty Freeman Voice, ocarina, bells: Charles Amirkhanian Harpsichord (courtesy of Dennis Russell Davies): Charles Amirkhanian, recorded in St. Paul, Minnesota, March 1980 Engineer: John Guth Recorded at New Wilderness Foundation, New York, NY, October 1981

Maroa (1981) (5'10")

Voice and Drum synthesizer: Charles Amirkhanian Engineer: Andrew Hindes Recorded at New Wilderness Foundation, New York, NY, October 1981