Read about Geoff's performances in the
January, 1989 issue of Keyboard Magazine
'New Visions for the Farfisa Organ' is a CD containing three
electronic works for the instrument.
This CD is out of distribution.
The contents of the CD will be available on the Internet in the near
The CD consists of three compositions:
Notes to the compositions are as follows:
Terre Inconnue (For One and Two Organs, and
SPX-90 Effects Processor)
Terre Inconnue was written to extend the
boundaries of electronic material already composed for the specific
characteristics of the Farfisa VIP-500 organ. Not only do I feel that I
have utilized many of the usually untapped resources of the VIP-500, but
in doing so have realized the great advantage of using an effects
processor as varied as the Yamaha SPX-90 to make the Farfisa a truly
unique electronic instrument. Indeed, the SPX-90 became almost an
instrument in itself, and gave the Farfisa the "hard edge" that I'd been
looking for in this piece.
Movement One is written for two Farfisa
organs, each moving up the scale chromatically independent of the other,
and each utilizing different sound alteration modules. This independence
is established by the ending of the movement, indicated only by a
mutually agreed upon setting of a numerical musical counter. Get up the
scale chromatically by all means, yes, but make damn well sure it is
finished by the time the counter reaches the final number. As in all my
pieces, I place a real value on dynamics... as the higher notes on the
scale are accessed, more stops are added on the Farfisa, pushing the
volume to an almost unbearable limit. "Terre Inconnue" was of course
meant to be played at a high volume to take full advantage of the
powerful sonorities. Like the "Sonata for Solo Organ", from my previous
cassette "Canódromo", which destroyed a beautiful pair of AR-7 speakers
I had for years, this piece nearly destroyed my eardrums. During the
mixing of the piece I experienced a constant ringing that lasted for
hours after the last mix...all this for the sake of electronic music,
ladies and gentlemen!
Movement Two is unusual in that it
features only one note, altered by wave adjustment as well as
incremental stop additions, and static-to-tremolo modification.
Movement Three features the unique "Synthe-slalom"
capability of the VIP 500. Although "Sonata for Solo Organ" used this as
the opening to one of the movements, it is such an essential part of
what makes a Farfisa a Farfisa that it really deserved a movement of its
own. Like Movement One, it operates on a sequential basis, building from
one note ordinally up to twenty-five consecutive keystrokes.
Movement Four is based on the
interaction between the upper manual stops and the rhythm rheostat. The
opening sequence theme begins with a count of nine beats, changing to
ten as harmonic stops are added. This escalates into the main body of
the piece as a solid yet changing cluster of notes gives way to the
acceleration of the rhythm to the point of chaos. After the crescendo,
signaled by three sets of long and short chords, Movement Four ends the
entire work with three clusters of three notes in a recapitulation and
reorganization of the nine beats beginning the final movement.
Note: Geoff has written extensive notes on the instrumental challenges
in playing the Farfisa, which are not included on the CD. They can be
Sonata For Solo Organ
I Allegro Non Troppo
III Fantasie Electroníque
IV Pantheon de Janáček
The Sonata was written in
tribute to the Farfisa Organ, an instrument which has not been given its
due as a precursor to the modern electronic keyboards of today, and
whose rhythmic and timbral possibilities have never been completely
explored. It is constructed around a matrix of stops and chord patterns,
which allows enough freedom for the performer to place his/her stamp of
individuality on the piece. Respect for the spontaneous composer has
always been apparent in my music; I love playing a piece I've written
previously because of the nuances I hear for the first time, many of
which are due to the acoustical nature of the given performance space.
While retaining its essential structure, the Sonata leaves room for
these important factors to play a role in the music.
The 'Allegro' is based on an
introduction, theme and variations in D minor. 'Kayenta' derives much
of its feeling from a cold, stark morning on the desert floor, searching
the purple windswept mountains for the searing orange glow of the
horizon, forging heat and dust. 'Fantasie Electoníque) displays the joy
that any human would experience in having a powerful, loud electronic
keyboard of his or her own, with all the time in the world in which to
play it. I might note that In live performances, I drive this up to the
far reaches of the treble spectrum, creating an intensity which,
combined with the extreme volume required for this movement really backs
people away from the stage… The Sonata finishes with a salute to an
influential composer, ending in a strange rhythm that he would have
insisted on playing himself. I think.
Liberace (For Three Organs): I don't think Liberace was a great
musical influence on anybody, really, but he was possibly the most
entertaining human being of our era. Who else would have entitled a
chapter in one of his books, "Marriage, Dogs, and Being Myself"? Would
anyone else have gotten a "particular thrill" out of acting as a
chauffeur to his maid and butler, driving them to the grocery store, and
having people strain to see the "famous people" in the back, and
ignoring the driver? Would anyone else have come close to death by
asphyxiation due to an excess amount of dry cleaning fluid left
accidentally in a full-length sable coat? I really miss him, and I think
the world will as well, for we have so few people who take delight in
outrageousness for the sake of making the world a happier place.
The dirge-like opening is played by one organ,
stating the main theme, joined soon by the other two, overlapping in
themes, leading eventually to a glorious cacophony. I imagine the open
casket, surrounded only by candles and three organ players, dressed in
suits of mourning, transparent where their hands and faces ought to be.
They start their threnody slowly in reverence, but begin to battle with
notes, as if by sheer power alone they can send Liberace's soul and body
through the ceiling and roof to the great beyond. I'm reminded of that
famous painting in the church of Santo Tomé, the sad knights lifting the
body of Count Orgáz to heaven, so serene and ponderous, yet already
starting to take flight. Our knights are faceless players in the night,
ferrying Liberace to his next station with our sad, fond farewell.
Played by three Farfisa VIP 500 organs.