Production Notes:
These notes were originally drafted for the folder that accompanies the PERFORMANCE CD, but were never finished, or included. They may, however, be of help in understanding this music and the context in which it was created. Please accept these notes in the spirit in which they're offered.

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John Etnier

CONELRAD (1982) AAD 9:34
From the dance M. A. D. to N. U. .T. S., premiered by the Ram Island Dance Company.
Choreographed by Sam Costa.
John Etnier: guitars, synthesizers, vocal and fx.
Joe Wainer: drums.
Recorded at Studio Dual

CONELRAD was commissioned in early spring of 1982, as I was putting the finishing touches on my Demo LP. Sam Costa approached me to write music to accompany M.A.D. to N.U.T.S., a powerful dance about nuclear war. The dancers were costumed in quasi-military outfits with parachute-style harnesses which they used to throw one another around the stage.

The choreography was appropriately primal and violent, and required disturbing and unrelenting music for which melody would be inappropriate. Any tonal references had to be as diffuse as possible, and the rhythm asymmetric.

There are around fifteen guitar tracks in the first third of the piece, all taken direct, each playing a different repetitive pattern around a common tonal center. Joe Wainer recorded the drum tracks in the basement of my apartment, doing a terrific job of improvising two aggressive rhythms using a method that was to become a staple of our work together on dance music: stopwatch part playing, in which I would call out the change points in the rhythm tracks by using a stopwatch to fit the piece into Sam's requirements for the dance. The center of the piece (shortened by forty-five seconds for the CD release) became a little controversial; people complained about becoming edgy and irritable from listening to so many minutes of unintelligible voices: the tracks had the desired effect.

Cradle (1982) AAD 8:25
Premiered by the Ram Island Dance Company
Choreographed by Sam Costa
John Etnier: bass guitar, synthesizer, harmonica, percussion, vocals and fx
Joe Wainer: drums, percussion and vocals
Andrea Re.- vocal chorus
Nancy Caragol: aqualung respirator
Recorded at Studio Dual

Cradle, recorded in November, 1982, was written to accompany a duet. To create a wavelike feeling a Frippertronic -style tapedeck combination was used to produce three tracks of slowly-changing canonic patterns each using bass guitar and synthesizer. Joe then recorded kick, snare, rimshots and bean shakers independently against a common click track, which allowed manipulation of the separate percussive elements without crosstalk problems. After that we went out to the kitchen and mumbled a bit. Nancy kindly agreed to breathe through the respirator of an aqualung throughout the duration of the track.

Andrea's vocals were assembled from the backing vocal tracks of on old song of mine; "Big Jersey Fluke", and the balance of the piece is excerpted from a 1976 composition: Entropic Pregnancy. This established a pattern of creative theft which came to a peak in the subsequent score for Agita.

Agita (1983) AAD 5:09
Premiered by the Ram Island Dance Company.
Choreographed by Sam Costa.
John Etnier: guitars, synthesizer and fx.
Joe Wainer: drums.
Guest appearances by Stephanie and Orion Wainer
Special thanks to Mark Wainer. Recorded at Fishtraks and Studio Dual

The take sheets for Agita reveal how different this piece is from its predecessors. Although the piece only lasts around five minutes, it uses up seven track sheets filled with notations like "porno baby bounce", "JX3P data" and "drums grabbed at 394/951/1188". Sam wrote a strong solo for himself in which he wore a jogger's portable stereo and danced to Talking Heads' "Born Under Punches" while the Agita score was played to the audience. The piece concerned alienation and urban angst, and Sam wanted a jagged, seemingly inchoate score involving collages created from scraps of preexisting sound. I took this to heart, and found myself stealing tracks from my friends with wild abandon. The organizing idea of the music involved exploiting the capacity of a digital delay line to create precise repeating loops of any sound source. This delay line looping was to become a strong part of the next few scores; it is used throughout Arterial, (1983- released as DD-068401) and appears in the piano loop section of Her Dance. In Agita a single-bar loop of Joe playing drums for his brother Mark's song "Dragon Days" was recorded onto fifteen minutes of tape, and six two-minute sections were then created within the fifteen minutes, each with five guitar loops and one vocal loop all repeating in the same rhythm as the drums. These sections of tape were then cut into shorter segments and spliced together. Delay and reverberation were used to extend tracks of Joe playing glass harmonica for his song "One Way Window", and the resultant atmospheric rush was used to anchor the beginning and ending collages. The silence in the middle of the piece originally lasted for over twenty seconds; the audience heard only Sam's energetic movement and from his headphones the faint whisper of the music he danced to.

Her Dance (1985) ADD 27:13
Premiered by Danceformation.
Choreographed by Mary Judkins.
John Etnier: synthesizer, piano and fx.
Herb Hamel: pedal steel guitar
Teg Glendon: bass guitar
Nancy Caragol: vocals.
Photograph: Leonard Plavin.
Recorded at Studio Dual

Her Dance consists of a series of solos. The dancers are all women who have been involved in the area's dance scene for several years, and Mary tried to bring out aspects of their personalities and of feelings she has about being both a woman and dancer.

In the first section I explored an idea that had occurred to me in years of service as a recording engineer; during sessions I often heard selective mixes of overdubs played without the backing rhythm tracks that they were recorded to accompany. Standing on their own, without strongly-stated chord structures or rhythm, they created an entirely different feeling: I decided to try writing a piece with "phantom" backing tracks which would be removed in the final mix. These tracks centered around classical country-derived chord structures and simple meters. The piano was recorded with the damper mechanism disabled, which produces great sustain and elides chords and phrases into one another. This section consists of five episodes (indexed on this CD), and establishes themes that will reappear throughout the work; for example the jazzy little number that ends Her Dance's penultimate section is a variation on the second episode (Index 2) of the first part, and part of the third episode's piano track is appropriated (along with tracks from throughout the piece) for the coda.

Bambiville (1986) AAD 15:37
Score for Toying in the Woods; Marjorie Moore, artistic director
Choreographed by June Vail, Martha Lask, Laura Faure and Nancy Salmon
Film animation by Huey
John Etnier: synthesizers, wind-up Bambi, piano and fx
Joe Wainer: Simmons drums
Matt Lucey: guitar
Recorded at Megaphone

By the time the opportunity came around to work on the score for Toying in the Woods I was getting a little concerned about the direction that my music was taking. The two previous scores (Arterial and Her Dance) had both been written for extended works which dealt with themes calling for mostly pastoral and organic sounds. I was worried about being seen as new-age, and the bare-bones sketch for this new performance piece gave some indication that some more pastoral bliss would be hard to avoid.

Toying in the Woods has costumed dancers acting out the parts of deer. They gambol in idyllic surroundings until threatened by malevolent cabins. The forces of man and nature collide, and in the end the only deer left on stage are a slew of tin windup Bambis, who ratchet their way down to mechanical oblivion.

Windup Bambis, it turns out, make a terrific racket when they're set loose on a hardwood floor, and sound better still on the strings of a grand piano. Usually their little hindlegs get entangled in the strings and they expire while twitching away at some repetitive atonal cluster.

October (1987) AAD 4:30
Score for Dream of Sleep: choreographed by Stoney Cook
John Etnier: synthesIzers
Recorded at Megaphone
October was the first of these scores to use MIDI sequencing, and it exemplifies the strengths and weaknesses of this technology; the score is orchestrated in a way which would have been otherwise impossible for me to attain, and which is appropriate for the requirements of the dance, but October's a little slick, a little lush.

Dream of Sleep led a life of fits and starts, and when it was ready to be performed, the score required substantial lastminute revision. This sort of situation is where MIDI sequencers shine; after several hours' work the piece had been totally revamped: toned down to match the mood of the dance, extended to meet timing requirements, and given a dreamlike twist and tempo ritard at the end to accompany the movement in that section. It's pretty soupy, and there are parts that I would like to have had time to have given more swing to. But there were some time constraints on the final recording of October; the performance mix will stand.

Music for Putting on Coats (1987) AAD 3:24
Incidental music to accompany Dream of Sleep
John Etnier: synthesizers and electric guitar
Ed Agopian: saxophone
Recorded at Megaphone

October was composed using a MIDI guitar controller, and at one point, as I was strumming around with the basic progression, it became clear that it had really been a rock song manqué The sequence file for October was thus modified and used as the basis for Music for Putting on Coats. MFPOC was designed as exit music, to be played as the audience left the theatre, and was originally very long, just a rough mix of the variations repeating over and over. The performance mix was very rough, and the piece always called for a sax statement of the October theme. The sax was added, and a shortened remix done for this release.