Electro-acoustic music: Glamour and Eros (1986/90)

December 11, 2009

Greg Chambers

Glamour & Eros (1987/90)
for alto saxophone and electronics
Music: Roger Bourland
Performer: Greg Chambers, saxophone
Yelton Rhodes Music

Glamour and Eros was originally commissioned by Jack Elliott and the New American Orchestra who specialized in orchestral jazz. Jack came up with the idea of including 3 Yamaha DX7s and an EWI (electronic wind instrument, designed by Nile Steiner). With backing from Lloyd Rigler, I set to work on the jazziest piece I have ever written. I grew up hearing jazz, but have never been a jazz musician.

Four months later, I showed up with a new piece called “Broken Arrows” (yes, like Neil Young’s “Broken Arrow”). Jack took a look at the orchestration and said “this orchestration will be difficult to make happen” being afraid of the synths. I was flabbergasted as it was HIS orchestration. Now, the likelihood of performances seemed slim, so the work was reorchestrated for a synthesizer ensemble (8 synthesizers with 3 percussionists). The rehearsals and performance was a blast, but again the instrumentation was doomed for an early death. In 1990, I turned the piece into Portable Rhapsody No.1 for solo alto sax and electronic accompaniment (mp3).

“Glamour and Eros” musically celebrates attraction and the erotic. The saxophone was chosen because it can hold its own against a loud accompaniment, and because it is perhaps the sexiest of all of the orchestral instruments. The musical language draws from rock, jazz, and psycho-classical. A descending (or ascending) four note motive permeates the piece as the predominant melodic figure.

The now historic synthesizers used on the accompaniment were the Yamaha TX816 and TX802, the Proteus/2, the Korg M1R, the Prophet 2002, and the Roland D550. (I still have them gathering dust in the basement.)

The work is dedicated to my friend and teacher, composer and multiple wind player, Les Thimmig.

This recording arrived in the mail today from Greg Chambers. Greg and his wife Chelsea were both in my theory classes many years ago. They hail from Gilroy, CA, the garlic capitol of the world. His performance is terrific and I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing it with you.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mark Carlson December 21, 2009 at 11:34 pm

What a wonderful performance, and a wonderful trip down memory lane. I remember playing in the premiere of the piece in the 8 synth/3 percussionist version, during the brief life of the UCLA Synthesizer Ensemble. I always loved this piece, and hearing it again, I am happy to say that I still do. Roger, you should let your rock roots show more often!

Previous post:

Next post: