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Denis Smalley

Programme notes
In memory of Tim Souster (1943-1994)

The title, Vortex, reflects a concern with motion, not necessarily literal spatial movement, but sound objects, textures, contours, and particles whose shapes and behaviour suggest analogies with motion both real and imaginary. Such relationships can be striking in acousmatic music, where the listener may often perceive sounds as physical entities moving in space. One almost sees the points and textures, the broad sweeps and curves, the dimensions and shapes of the sound structures. Large, rich, resonant attacking sound events provide the structural pillars of Vortex. Their impact and radiating energy signal climaxes, initiate changes of direction, and propel the music forwards.


Vortex was realized between 1981 and ’82 in the Electroacoustic Music Studio of the University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK), incorporating materials created using the Structured Sound Synthesis Project (SSSP) system of the Computer Systems Research Institute of the University of Toronto (Canada); and a few materials created in the YLE Experimental Studio, the Finnish Radio experimental studio. It premiered on February 27, 1983, at The Round House in London (England, UK), in the first concert of a tour of thirteen concerts undertaken by Electronic Music Now. The work was commissioned by Tim Souster with funding from the Arts Council of Great Britain. Vortex was awarded 1st prize ex æquo in the Analogue Music Category of the 11th Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition 1983 (Bourges, France), and on the same occasion, the Special Prize of the International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music (ICEM). Vortex is now dedicated to the memory of Tim Souster who died in 1994 at the age of 51.


  • February 27, 1983, Concert, The Round House, London (England, UK)


  • Composer(s): Denis Smalley
  • Year of composition: 1981-82
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Commission: Tim Souster with support from the Arts Council of Great Britain
  • ISWC: T3025951804
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Duration: 15:49
  • ISRC: CAD502110014