By: Montse Andreu

We are almost on the turn of the twenty-first century, and one would think that the so long fought for equality of the sexes should have reached the adequate levels with respect to the chances that women have to succeed in the field of electronic musics, and of alternative musics in general. This is not so. And nevertheless, there are women who have devoted part (or all) of their careers to electronic, experimental composition, who have a great deal of talent. Who are these women, who are the women in this "silent minority", whose names so often escape our minds? We can certainly name some who will surely be widely known by the readers. Yet, together with these artists who have become fairly well known all over the world, there are others who have not achieved fame in the same scale. And this is the objective I have here: to make some of these names that hide a considerable talent and a dedication often silenced by the media - perhaps because they are taken to be uncommercial, or perhaps because they have chosen very minoritary aspects in the field of music in our days - known to the interested readers.

American composer Maryanne Amacher has basically specialized in the performance of multimedia artworks, and most specifically in the creation of huge installations, usually sited in specific places. In her artistic creations, Amacher combines with undisputed mastery sculpture, sound - loud and extremely noisy - with low tones that resonate in the listener's stomach. Maryanne Amacher is a temperamental perfectionist whose artistic work has been developed mainly in Europe.

This American composer from New York, a professor of music at the faculty of the prestigious Greenwich House Music School, is best known thanks to her work in the field of what can be labelled as new romantic music, besides having composed several works for texts and sound, as well as musical plays, even though her beginnings followed a post-Cagian line which had little to do with the academicism of the New Music genre. After abandoning this path, the artist has chosen a more lyric style, while at the same time maintaining in her musical creativity the quality inherent to the minimalist school. Like she herself says, "My music is now quite lyrical, sometimes called neo-Romantic, and full of cut-ups/collage of newly composed materials. Since 1985 I have been composing mostly swales for various instrumental combinations. A swale is a meadow or a marsh where there is nourishment and moisture and therefore, a rich diversity of plant life. My work, since 1984, has been made from swatches (of newly composed music, rather than found music) which are reminiscent of this diversity. When a horse named Swale won the Kentucky derby several years ago, I discovered the word and have used it extensively: "Pennyroyal Swale" and "Rosemary Swale" for string quartet, "Brass Swale" and" Saturday/Sunday Swale" for brass quintet, "Guitar Swale" for guitar duet," May Swale" for viola solo," Minnesota Swale" for orchestra, "New Mexico Swale" and "August Swale" for chamber ensemble, "Flute Swale" and the most recent, "Rhode Island Swale" for harpsichord".

Born in Kentucky, Beth Anderson received her musical education in California with John Cage, Terry Riley, Robert Ashley and Larry Austin at the Mills College and the University of California Davis. A member of several associations, among which we can find the Broadcast Musicians Inc. (BMI), the International Alliance of Women in Music, the American Music Center, the American Composers Alliance, and the association of Poets and Writers, she has become the treasurer for the association of New York Women Composers. Among the different awards and grants she has been given, mention must be made of the National Endowment for the Arts grant for career development in music composition, a National Public Radio Satellite Program Development Fund grant for the development of a text-sound radio series entitled "Poetry Is Music", several Meet The Composer grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, a Foundation For the Contemporary Performance Arts grant, a National Federation of Music Clubs' Award of Merit for contributions to women in music, a P.S. One/Institute for Art and Urban Resources residency, a ZBS Media grant to support a residency/tape production, an Elizabeth Mills Crothers Award, a Biggerstaff Grant, and an Alumni Fellowship to support her graduate work at Mills College. Beth Anderson has likewise been commissioned several works by such prestigious institutions as Minnesota Synfonia, the Staten Island Symphony, the Cabrillo Music Festival, the San Francisco Conservatory's New Music Ensemble, the University of the Redlands' New Music Ensemble, the Montclair College Dance Festival, Daniel McCusker & Dancers, and many others. A good deal of her compositions have been recorded by different artist, and released under several labels.

Beth Anderson has basically experimented with tape, the human voice, church organ, video and all the advantages that electronics has to offer in the making of her works, among which mention must be made of the following: "Morning View and Maiden Spring" (1978); "On Joan" (1977); "Promised Church Beautiful River" (1977); "Ode" (1976); "He Said" (1975); "The People Rumble Louder" (1975); "Bye Bridget Bardot Or Hello Charlotte Moorman" (1974); "Thus Spake Johnston" (1973); "Tower of Power" (1973). Two of her most recent works, "Trio: Dream in d", and "Net work" have been released by the label Tirreno Records. Her piece "Belgian Tango" was recorded by The Tango Project, for the collection Newport Classics CDs. Also the label Opus One has released "Revel", a work performed by the Richmond Symphony, besides "Minnesota Swale", performed by the Slovak Symphony. Her scores have been published, among others, by E.M.I/Joshua Corporation/General Music and the American Composers Editions, besides having her music included in several catalogues, the most complete of which is perhaps the one by the association of New York Women Composers, Inc. The task developed by this composer throughout her career has merited a post in several reference works, like for instance The New Grove Dictionary Of American Music, The New Grove Dictionary Of Opera, The Popular Guide To Women In Music, Contemporary Composers, and The Pandora Guide To Women Composers-British And American. Furthermore, a long interview to her is available at the archives of the American Composers Oral History Project at the University of Yale.

Ruth Anderson is a minoritary composer, some of whose works have been published by the label Opus One, a label devoted to women composers and minority musics. Among the works this label has released of her compositions, mention must be made of "Dump", a piece consisting in a strange sonic collage composed by means of tape, which was released in 1970, where the author uses radio and TV ads, at the same time drawing her inspiration from contemporary references so as to develop her ideas. Another work by this author also released by the label Opus One is "I come out of your sleep", appeared in 1979, a composition in which Ruth Anderson utilizes sounds manipulated in an electronic environment. In 1973 this same label releases her work "SUM" ("State of the Union Message"), another sonic collage produced with the use of tape.




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