John Oliver, composer

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RADIOED - Oliver chamber ensemble piece with DX7 from the archives

I’ve been scanning old scores so I have a complete PDF archive of my music. Here’s a find from 1993.

What happens when you get “radioed?” Think shortwave radio; think messages being “radioed” from control centres to flight decks, etc.; think “Ground control to Major Tom.” Now imagine a music made for instruments and synthesizers that mimic old-time dial radios, and on that radio we’re finding music that sounds something like complex Greek folk music…

Listen to an excerpt here.
Oliver Radioed original title page
Back in the early 1990s, Macintosh computers had MacDraw, a drawing program that I used to use for title pages. This is a copy of the dot-matrix printout!


RADIOED was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s flagship new music program “Two New Hours” back in 1992 and the Pierrot Ensemble of Ottawa performed it in 1993. During this period I was integrating DX7 / TX802 synthesizers into chamber music as much as possible because I really liked the mix of these clean FM electronic sounds with the human voice and instruments. (My first opera, Guacamayo, also uses these synths and the AKAI S1000 sampler.)

You can hear an excerpt from the performance here.

Here is the original program note for the piece:

Radioed Original note

And here is the later one…

One summer evening I found myself at a Greek festival. The party was almost over. And suddenly the music was getting very interesting. This was not the usual popular fair! The music was in complex metres, and yet it was still dancing music. I went home humming these new tunes, infected by this new expression. Often I only discover the strange and new through recordings or radio broadcasts. This time I was lucky. But “radioed” is what I have become during my life, sensitive as I am to the musical culture of the world through radio broadcasts, which then lead me to recordings. Such were the thoughts that lead me to create my own ersatz Greek tune and then go through a process of dismantling it during the course of my composition.

Here’s the first page of the score. Enjoy!

Oliver Radioed original first page