"Pentacle!" by Samuel Pellman


for alto saxophone
and electronic sounds

duration - 8' 14"
Click to hear a 92 second audio clip of a passage of electronic sounds: ( mp3 File, 1.5 MB)


Pentacle! is one of a series of works that explore the compositional possibilities arising from the juxtaposition of the flexibility and immediacy of a live performer with the aloof and alien nature of pre-recorded electroacoustic sounds. A related area of exploration involves the dramatic implications of the placement and apparent movement of sounds in the soundfield of the loudspeakers. From this the following scenario emerges: the saxophonist innocently begins the work, with a solo. After a short while, the speakers emit a series of soft, short sounds among themselves, as if conspiring. Indeed, in the next section the saxophonist is attacked from all sides, and is batted about as if he or she were the metal ball in a pinball machine. The performer survives this episode and is able to proceed with a brief cadenza. This is interrupted, however, by a sudden, massive "attack" as the tape makes one more effort to obliterate the performer. The saxophonist holds forth and emerges triumphant, on an altissimo "a." The electroacoustic sounds are thus forced to reach an accommodation with the performer, and the initial repose of the piece is restored by the onset of the coda.


The electronic sounds in Pentacle! were produced on a Moog modular studio analog synthesizer at the Cornell University Studio for Contemporary Music. These electronic sounds were overdubbed and recorded on a four-track tape recorder. For the early performances of this work, the electronic sounds were played through a four-channel sound system in which the four speakers surrounded the saxophonist onstage.

Due to the obsolescence of four-track analog tape equipment, it is no longer feasible to present the electronic sounds from the original four-track tapes. However, the sounds have been mixed to two channels and recorded on a compact disc that can be played back in accompaniment to the performance of a live saxophonist. Contact the composer  for a copy of the CD if you would like to perform this work.

Click here for a free download of the sheet music!
Also available: mp3 files of the accompanying segments of electronic sounds.

Biographical information about the composer can be found here.
Pentacle! is published by the Continental Music Press.
copyright 1978 Samuel Pellman. All Rights Reserved.

To obtain performance materials or for further information, contact: .