Technology

An early landmark in the connection of Bruce Hobson’s music to technology is W1AW, the home station of ham radio in Newington, Connecticut, six miles from Bruce’s home.

In 1956, Bruce and his friend, Richie Blum, now Dr. Richard S. Blum, arrived at W1AW to pass their ham license exams and obtain their licenses.

After a year of a year of transmitting and receiving messages in Morse code, Bruce had the code firmly imprinted in his brain where it certainly has an effect on how he perceives musical rhythm—an effect stumbled upon by Kraig Lamper of American Record Guide: “Morphopoiesis, the ‘formation of an organic structure from a limited number of subunits’, seems to take Morse code as a major influence as short, long and short, short, long and then short, short, short, long… This is extremely well done and tactful.”

Morphopoiesis Part I
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, Toshiyuki Shimada, Conductor
Photos of Bruce (left) and Ralph Hodges (right) from their high school yearbook

As ardent devotees of classical music, Ralph Hodges and Bruce shared a personal and later a professional concern with the continuous improvements in audio recording and playback equipment. From a beginning with home built Heathkits to Hi Fi sound systems, graduation from Columbia College led Ralph to technical writing in the audio industry and led Bruce to composing, recording, and publishing his music.

After working many hours in the Columbia Electronic Music Studio and on his own, Bruce realized that the electronic technology of the 1960s was impractical for creating a piece for brass sextet and tape of electronically manipulated piano sounds. The substitution of conventional instruments for the stereo speakers of the tape resulted in the instrumentation of Concerto for Three Groups.

2001 photo of Bruce (left), his wife Lynda, and Jerzy Novoral, producer of the 1994 recording of Concerto for Three Groups

"I'm impressed by the wealth of imagination and ideas—especially the Concerto for Three Groups.” Elliott Carter from a note to Bruce after listening to several compositions with score

Below is Part I of Concerto for Three Groups recorded in 1994 and released in 1998 on Equinox Music CD 0101.

Concerto for Three Groups I
Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble, José Maria Florêncio, Conductor
2014 photo of Bruce (left) with Jacques-Louis Monod, founder of The Guild of Composers and The Association for the Promotion of New Music (APNM) in 1975

By 1987 the audio industry had surged far ahead in sound recording quality through solid state circuitry and significant improvements in digital recording technology. At this time, with the generous help of Jacques-Louis Monod as conductor and Max Wilcox as recording director, Bruce was able to arrange a digital recording of his Octet at BMG/RCA Studio A on 44th Street in New York City.

"The pieces on [this] Equinox disc are tightly structured and fine sounding. Hobson has a very strong sense of the nature of chromatic harmony, and his 'extensions' of tonality really 'sound'. . . The performances on this disc are uniformly outstanding." American Record Guide, Review of Equinox Music CD 0101

Octet, Part I
Guild of Composers Chamber Ensemble, Jacques-Louis Monod, Conductor
Wave form graphic of Sibelius orchestral instruments prepared by Bruce Hobson

Through the extraordinary advances made in computerized digital recording technology such as sample accurate splicing, powerful sound filtering capability, and concert hall acoustics simulations, many composers were able to do post production editing of recordings at home workstations. By working with a wave form visual editing screen image similar to the attached graphic, Bruce has been able to improve and correct the recordings on all of his CDs including Equinox Music CD 0102 as noted by Robert Kirzinger in Fanfare:

“There’s no appreciable difference in recording quality through the wildly disparate venues; the production achieves and maintains a high level throughout.”

The five musical samples below present one short passage from each of the five works on Equinox Music CD 0102.

  • 25.   Cantilena Infinita m226-238
    Gyor Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Gergely Kesselyak, Conductor
  • 11.   Three Songs, "spring!may--" m15-21
    Jan Opalach, bass-baritone, Gaït Sirguey, piano
  • 4.   Lyric Piece I, m17-25
    Margaret Kampmeier
  • 7.   Clarinet Trio II m31-34
    A. Blustine, R. Schulte, D. McIntosh
  • 1.   Piano Trio I m58-63
    R. Schulte, J. Whitfield, C. Oldfather