(The text that follows is adapted from a text by Beth E. Levy. The full text can be found in the liner notes of the Edmund Campion/SFCMP Outside Music CD, Albany Records Troy 1037)

Outside Music (2005) (duration 15'30") (flute, bass clarinet, vibraphone, harp, synthesizer, double bass), commissioned by the Fromm Foundation for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Here, Julie Steinberg takes the helm of a new sample-based keyboard instrument designed to exhibit pianistic virtuosity and to generate a dazzling array of sounds, modified in immediate response to the performer’s touch. “Everything depends on the keyboardist,” Campion observes, making Outside Music a type of concerto, complete with a cadenza. Two pedals in four combinations allow the pianist to completely redefine the response of the keys in a split second. “I am so grateful to Julie Steinberg who spent several months prior to the first rehearsals mastering the details of this instrument. . . .” Campion wrote the computer program and devised the pedaling system that is central to the piece. Peter Josheff provided individual clarinet samples. “The software works both as a modeling tool for testing ideas, and a computer-based instrument for live performance.” Rather than treating the rest of the ensemble as a collection of distinct players coupled with electro-acoustic materials, he conceives the forces as a single “instrument” (another take on the grotesque) in which the keyboard/computer plays the special role of mirroring and binding the acoustic collective. Typical of his works featuring newer technologies, the musical discourse is shaped in the interplay between the disembodied computer-based sounds capable of executing musical gymnastics far beyond the reach of human fingers and the humanmade sounds whose sonic radiation (backed by the physical presence and visible gestures from the musicians) can never be matched by electronics. Regarding the title, Campion writes, “on the surface, Outside Music is just music for the out-of-doors— a kind of musical road trip passing quixotically from moment to moment. Deeper, I really do want to get outside Music, the music that values and defines itself teleologically—as structure or design of one sort or another. Getting outside of that Music means evaporating the frame. I don’t mean to leave Music behind. I mean ignoring the walls, turning the gaze 180 degrees, and trying to glimpse some of the musical landscapes still open for settlement. So the insider’s Music is still there, it’s just un-hinged, dreaming to be and breathe in the world. That’s my Pinocchio syndrome, confessing that Outside Music is hyper-structured and very, very artificial. Being outside music is the opposite of being free of all constraints.”

Outside Music performance history:

2004-05 Outside Music, SFCMP, San Francisco, March 22 (premiere)
2005-06 Outside Music, SFCMP, 35th Anniv., Treasure Island, May 21
Outside Music, Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music
Outside Music, Argento Ensemble, 92nd St. Y, New York
2006-07 Outside Music, Center for 21st Century Music, Buffalo, April
2007-08 Outside Music, Ensemble Verticale, Manca International Festival of Contemporary Music, Nice, France
Outside Music, Ensemble Verticale, RAI Italy, Torino, Italy

Edmund Campion