Veils, subtitled Studies in Textural Transformations, is a series of textures or walls of sound which act as an invitation for the listener to explore an environment where new acoustic sensations and associations can be discovered. The texture, a sustained chord of usually 14-56 notes, is constantly transforming by changing the instrument type that is articulating the sound (ie from strings to voice, to brass, to piano, to marimba, to glass, etc). No electronic effects were used and only straight recordings and mixing of acoustic instruments were used. However, the sound source or instrument type at any moment is not usually obvious to the listener, hence the sound sources are ‘veiled.’ This veiled sound is created by three main factors: the extensive multitracking (from 180 to 280 tracks of the same instrument are used at any one moment), the tuning of the chords (microtonal intervals which do not occur in our normal 12-Tone Equal Tempered Tuning System), and the recording method of close miking in a dead acoustical space which brings out aspects of each instrument type that we normally do not hear. The title also aludes to a real veil where one can switch between seeing individual strands and viewing the overall pattern. In Veils it is imagined that the listener can freely drift from one type of perception to another (ie micro to macro level or individual layer to mass effect).
The recording stages of Veils were realized at the composer’s studio and the premixing and final mastering took place in the Sonic Research Studio of Simon Fraser University (SFU) (Vancouver, BC). The piece premiered on August 19, 1985 at the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC ’85) in Vancouver (BC). The work won 2nd prize in the Electroacoustic category of the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (Bourges, France, 1986); the 3rd prize of the Luigi Russolo International Competition (Varese, Italy, 1986); and it was awarded a 1992 Euphonie d’or “as one of the twenty most significant works from two decades of the Bourges Awards.”
This work was reprocessed, remixed and remastered in the composer’s studio in 2001-02.