Wei Tuck Chan

Date of Graduation


Document Type



The mid-twentieth century marks an important time for electroacoustic music. The availability and commercialization of reel-to-reel magnetic tape changed the broadcast and recording landscape. Accessibility to magnetic tape gave composers easier means to edit pre-recorded sounds by employing various new compositional procedures. Interest in electroacoustic music in America grew after the introduction of works by Vladimir Ussachevsky and Otto Luening in 1952. After that, electroacoustic music studios began being established throughout the country. Works for live instruments plus pre-recorded sounds began appearing in the late 1950s. Many of the works written for piano and pre-recorded sounds showcase various performance settings, technical demands of the performer, and sometimes required assistance from the person responsible for operating the playback machine. A number of the works written for piano and pre-recorded sounds have since become established as important works of the piano repertoire. In addition to the existing works for piano and pre-recorded sounds, one deserving work to be included in this piano repertoire is Synthecisms No. 2 (1990) by Brian Bevelander. Due to the nature of the tape part in Synthecisms No. 2, which requires the starting and stopping of the tape, assistance is needed to operate the tape machine. The purpose of this paper is to examine the structure, stylistic, and thematic materials of this work, as well as to examine the possibility of performance of the work without an assistant. The methods discussed here may also offer possible solutions for other works that have similar technical challenges. Included is a brief overview of Brian Bevelander's musical background and his other works for piano and pre-recorded sounds, as well as a historical overview of electronic instruments, recording technology, and electroacoustic music studios up until 1990, when Synthecisms No. 2 was completed.