WNYC Project -Interview

1989, New York

The original intent was simply to do a program of my music on WNYC FM, New York Public Radio, that would be hosted by Lucy Sumner. We’d premiere a couple of new things – Dialogue V and Erotic Song #1 - and do an interview. Well I was thrilled that WNYC wanted to do this but I felt that there might be something more interesting than the standard ‘radio as concert hall’ format. I began to consider what it might mean to approach radio as a unique medium with which to compose.

I struck upon the idea of making the interview itself into a piece. The interview would become a piece that explored the things that we were talking about in the interview. Interview and composition would meld into a single thing – a thoroughly recursive event in which the thing talked about becomes the thing itself.

Lucy Sumner, the host and co producer of the program, was open to any ideas I might have as to the structure of the show. Thank god for people like Lucy. Much to my surprise, when I broached this idea with her, she liked it.

We recorded the interview a few months in advance of the air date. I then took the unedited tapes home to my studio and started working. I edited, re-recorded, remixed and composed new material based on the things we had talked about in the interview. The moments when my voice seems to be on the phone was a deliberate nod to the broadcast medium – without explanation I was suddenly a call-in listener then, just as suddenly, I was back in the studio. Lucy saying, “Why can I not hear you?” was the result of the phone link not working. I was calling from another studio down the hall and she couldn’t get the signal from the phone into the recorder. That equipment failure proved to be an invaluable source for the piece. It was both wonderful musical–dramatic material and also referred directly to the very thing that we were doing.

This was a delightful project and I will be forever thankful to Lucy Sumner, recording engineer Edward Haber and the staff of WNYC for their support in realizing this piece.