Omaggio a Jerry Lee Lewis



for stereo tape


     Omaggio a Jerry Lee Lewis for stereo tape was composed in 1975 - the fourth in a series of musique concrète works composed from 1969 until 1978. It was created solely through tape manipulations applied to a pre-recorded work, "Whole Lotta' Shakin' Goin' On", as sung and played by Rock 'n' Roll great, Jerry Lee Lewis. This central source material was first cut into thematic and motivic units of various types and sizes - words, phrases, notes, chords, musical fragments, etc. These were then subjected to a wide variety of "musique concrète" procedures (speed change, filtering, head echo, reverberation, looping, signal interruption through erasure and excerpt loops, compression, expansion, phasing, panning, multiple readings, tape passes, editing, remixing, etc.). These results were then reassembled, mixed and re-mixed, until a new composition emerged.

      The abstract idea was that, like the table or newspaper in a cubistic painting, the familiar musical object - here the Jerry Lee Lewis performance - served the listener as an orientation point within a maze of new material. The concrete result, so to speak, was that the studio manipulations amplified the source material, carried it into new, unexpected areas while maintaining its past associations. As in a dream, the material could present itself intact, then dissolve and reassemble in new, vaguely familiar shapes. Moving back and forth along this line, controlling this movement, was what fascinated me.

The studio apparatus used to create this work:

5 Stereo tape recorders
1 Revox A-700 tape recorder (Master), 15 i.p.s.
3 Revox A-77 tape recorders, 7 1/2 and 15 i.p.s.
1 Revox G-36, 7 1/2 and 15 i.p.s.

Mixer (passive): 8 inputs, 2 outputs, designed by Livio Argentini in 1971

2 DBX 157 Stereo Noise Reduction Units

1 Fixed Filter Bank divided into 9 octave segments, built by Paul Ketoff

1 Stereo Graphic Equalizer, Advent Corporation

1 Spring Reverberation Unit, Gibbs

1 Stereo Space Control with keyboard, designed by Paul Ketoff

Click here for a picture of this 1970's "electronic studio"

     Omaggio a Jerry Lee Lewis was composed for the dancer and choreographer, Irina Harris. It is an act of homage not only to the unbounded energy of Rock 'n' Roll music of the 'fifties, but also to the exhilarating, 'Sputnik'-like atmosphere that pervaded contemporary music of that epoch. It is gratefully dedicated to Harris and to all of the members of the "Class of 1957", Central High School, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Richard Trythall

Omaggio a Jerry Lee Lewis:   Mp36.17MB (complete ) 


A work for percussion soloist and tape, Salute to the '50's, was created in the following year. The tape part is drawn from Omaggio a Jerry Lee Lewis. This work was selected for performance at the Gaudeamus Music Festival in Holland in the following year.


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