While anticipating a Seattle appearance by one of the giants of electronic music, Morton Subotnick (Thurs April 30, Chapel Performance Space, 8 pm, $5–$15 sliding-scale donation), I've been savoring The San Francisco Tape Music Center: 1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde (University of California Press). A collection of lively interviews, photos, diagrams, an enclosed DVD, and even a fold-out score, the book not only deflates the notion of New York as the center of experimental music innovation in the second half of the 20th century, but testifies to the ingenuity and invention of a ragtag band of composers, musicians, dancers, visual artists, and explorers.

"There's so little documentation," regrets Subotnick in one of the book's many interviews. Yet with Pauline Oliveros and Ramon Sender along with engineer Michael Callahan—who fondly reminisces, "When we should've been out chasing girls, we were out chasing surplus oscilloscopes"—they did the unthinkable in 1962: They established an electronic-music studio and performance space with no corporate or institutional support. Craftily wangling borrowed, surplus, and "sponsored" equipment, they staged performances of seminal works including Terry Riley's In C; the Fluxus scrapefest Poem for Table, Chairs, and Benches, etc. by La Monte Young; and Steve Reich's "It's Gonna Rain."

In the Tape Music Center's studio, Oliveros used a turntable, Hewlett-Packard oscillators, and tape delay to create one of the most haunting specimens of electronic music, Bye Bye Butterfly. Subotnick's Play! no. 1 daringly combined film, magnetic tape, and chamber ensemble; he then collaborated closely with synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla, resulting in a string of synth masterpieces, notably Silver Apples of the Moon and the rhythmically motile Touch.

Before he moved to Seattle, Stuart Dempster was there, too, gigging in countless concerts and starring as the echoing "trombonist in the tunnel" in City Scale, an epic 1963 event that combined the spectacle of Allen Kaprow's Happenings with the listener-centered sound walks advocated by R. Murray Schafer in the 1970s. "It was amazing," recalls Dempster in the book's closing interview. "It was just a symbol of what things could be."

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Subotnick continues to compose, creating works for live or what he calls "ghost" electronics. Phantom sounds, culled from the "live" performer, duet, duel, and otherwise insinuate a symbiotic relationship between acoustic and electronic sound.

Thursday's concert features two new Subotnick pieces. Pianist Cristina Valdés plays The Other Piano with Subotnick on electronic processing. Valdés, clarinetist Sean Osborn, and Michael Jinsoo Lim—a formidable violinist who gave a knockout reading of Davidovsky's Synchronisms No. 9 for violin and tape at the Seattle Latin American Music Festival in 2007—tackle Then and Now Forever. A classic from the 1970s, A Sky of Cloudless Sulfur, heard here quadraphonically, rounds out the program: Funky, rattling squiggles of sound dribble and whirl around the room, transmuting foreboding Kraut-rock pulsations into a joyous dance. recommended

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