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IN THE BEGINNING for Soprano Voice, Delay and Digital Processors, Live Mixing, and Stereo Recorded Sounds, 1996.  DVD version: 2009

Duration: 15:23

Performance practicality:  Specially made for Priscilla McLean’s voice, but could be sung by a soprano specializing in advanced vocal techniques. The voice is digitally live-processed by a sound engineer or sound artist, and is accompanied by recorded voice samples.  Optional:  camera recording her image on a TV screen, mixing live with video images of ocean waves.

An electronic avant-garde operatic “symphony” for one singer/vocalist, recorded sounds, and live digital processing, IN THE BEGINNING was composed for The McLean Mix as a natural extension of Priscilla McLean’s recent nature-influenced music.  A fascination for ancient creation myths led to this dramatic collage of myths from ancient Babylonia, Greece, Chaldea, and Hindu, Arunta, Zuni and Occidental cultures depicting the unfathomable variety of lifeforms arising from our ocean beginnings at the dawn of time. Through the use of a wide array of Priscilla McLean’s vocal sounds recorded and performed on the ASR-10 Sampling Synthesizer, coupled with her live voice processed by Barton McLean, the texts and music come to life and combine in thought-provoking and evocative ways, beginning with a bone-chilling primal birth scream, and ending with a similar scream which seems to evoke the cry of whales deep in the ocean.

IN THE BEGINNING was premiered on a McLean Mix “Gods, Demons, and the Earth” concert at the University of Akron on March 13,1996, and video was added in stages later.  McLean rented a video camera to film ocean waves at York Beach, Maine, near Nubble Lighthouse. She then gave the footage to A.J. Jannone who worked in the iEAR electronic studio at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY in 1997.  Jannone altered the waves, making a performance videotape, which during a live performance is shown mixed with McLean’s face which is processed through the Videonics analog-to-digital mixer as she performs this difficult (and shattering) music, and Barton McLean also processes her live voice through a series of delays and pitch shifting.

The premiere of the new version with video cameras and mixers was in April, 1998 at Roosevelt University’s Chicago Musical College, and became a staple of the McLean Mix concerts.  Originally recorded on Capstone Records - CPS 8663, 1999 - “Fantasies for Adults and Other Children: The Vocal Music of Priscilla McLean” and now available on Ravello/Naxos Records, The DVD on AAC-m4a was created from a McLean Mix performance at Engine 27, NYC on June 7, 2000.

IN THE BEGINNING is also available on a “McLean Mix Live!” DVD, available through MLC Publications, 55 Coon Brook Rd., Petersburgh, NY 12138 (
"In the Beginning" on YouTube
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