Recently I’ve become entranced by the music of Ingram Marshall. I discovered his Fog Tropes (1981) quite by chance while exploring some of the links in Philip Clark’s piece on New Tonality (- or should that be ‘New’ New Tonality?) in the Gramophone.
Immediately I found myself at home in the misty, murky sound world that the piece evokes through the use of a brass ensemble accompanied by a ‘fog’ of field recordings gathered around the San Francisco Bay area. Marshall says in his own note on the piece: “Many people are reminded of the San Francisco Bay when they hear this music but for me it is a piece about memory and the feeling of being lost” – perfectly meandering music which captures the weird chiaroscuro of fog and faded memories.
The tape part of Fog Tropes also employs some of Marshall’s trademark sounds: his keening falsetto and the gambuh, a Balinese flute. The voice and gambuh are heard to great effect in the stunning Gradual Requiem (1980), a concert length semi-improvisational piece for voice, piano, mandolin, gambuh and tape.
“I performed the piece many times […] and each time, I became more aware of its healing, consolatory power as I thought about my father during the performance. My memory of him, and my memory of composing this music for him, merged more frequently and became, for me, more universal. So, in effect, it is a secret, intimate memory piece as well as a more general, universal expression of sorrow and remembrance.” – Ingram Marshall on Gradual Requiem
There’s a nice little interview with Marshall on Perfect Sound Forever. I can rather relate to the statement “I would be more likely to be accused of an aimless minor.”-!