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Paul Patterson: Brain Storm

  • for 4 voices and live electronics
  • Duration: 10’
  • Composer: Paul Patterson
  • Text author: Tim Rose Price

Work introduction

The search for a pattern which makes sense and accommodates him is man’s age-old preoccupation, but it has taken a twist in the twentieth century with the escalation of options offered to him. In turn the options have undermined each other leaving many people no base from which to build a framework and a consequent sensation of operating in a vacuum. In such a vacuum, with no foundation of creed or stable social structure, there can be no solutions to any questions of identity or existence. Indeed, if the questions are asked at all they will have a snowball effect and compound the problem. Some people have creeds; some people manage by various means not to ask the questions; but Brain Storm is about those others who feel the sense of isolation, who have not found a pattern and who still want to.

The Brain in Brain Storm is composed of the personnel of Electric Phoenix and it fragments as soon as the initial question is asked, splitting apart into the four members of the group who each represent different facets of the divided mind. Their interaction and clashes simulate the thought process so that the entire dramatic sequence on stage is a metaphor for what goes on inside one’s head: duels between the rational and irrational, the conscious and subconscious, doubts, phobias, false solutions. Each new thought or section self-destructs and increases the anxiety to a crisis point. The crisis is reached and passed. There is no solution to the original question; but the final positive statement of the piece is an incontrovertible as the original question is unanswerable and in making that simple statement the divided mind reunites and is a peace with itself.

The work incorporates extended vocal techniques and is intended to utilize the wider possibilities of nuance, and subtle harmonic stress with the aid of amplification, and electronic treatment and distribution.

Paul Patterson, Tim Rose Price

Electric Phoenix Society programme note from 17 May 1978

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