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The title ("Klang" is the German for sound) reflects the onomatopoeic nature of the family of sounds providing the raw material for the piece - sharp, metallic attacks with interesting resonances rich in harmonics. The real starting point for Klang was the discovery of two earthenware casseroles, the sounds of which were recorded in the Electroacoustic Music Studio of the University of East Anglia during the summer of 1981. Material of two kinds was recorded - attack/resonance sounds made by tapping the lids on or in the bowls, and continuous rolling sounds made by running the lids around the insides of the bowls. Different pitches resulted from the various combinations of lids and bowls, and different qualities of resonance emerged according to the attack position. The microphones were placed very close to the bowls to maximise the movement within the stereophonic image. Other related material, accumulated over the previous three or four years, was also used. This included both "concrete" sounds, such as cow-bells, metal rods and aluminium bars, and electronically generated sounds, both analogue and digital. The final impetus to compose the piece came in June 1981 when the composer was invited by Janos Decsenyi of Magyar Radio to work in the Radio's Electronic Music Studio in Budapest. As studio time would be limited he was advised to take a certain amount of taped material with him; the two weeks prior to the visit were therefore spent in preliminary work in the Electroacoustic Music Studio of The University of Birmingham. Most of the opening two sections of the piece were composed before going to Hungary.

Although continuous, Klang falls into six short, fairly clearly defined sections:
1.Introduction
2.Development 1 - duet
3.Development 2 - interruption of duet and increase in complexity towards the first climax
4.Development 3 - relatively static section
5.Development 4 - proliferation of material from Development 3 into glissando structures; build-up to the second
6.(main) climax, and slow release to:
7.Coda
The listener can trace the development of the material from raw statements of casserole sounds in the Introduction, through more complex, highly transformed events in the four Development sections, back to the opening sound-world in the Coda. The most obvious transformation technique is mixing, using only slightly transposed versions of simple sounds. Besides mixing and transposition with tape recorders and a harmoniser, the main modifications were achieved by filtering and, most important of all, montage. This last technique is the principal means of controlling the timing and rhythmic articulation of the material and its organisation into phrases (which may be a single line or a mix of many layers which are edited together into the desired sequence).

Klang was awarded Second Prize in the Analogue Category of the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Awards in 1983. In 1992 it was awarded a Euphonie d'or at Bourges as one of the twenty most significant works from two decades of the Bourges Awards.

 

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