Scope and arrangement
The J.K. Randall Collection primarily contains scores and other papers documenting Randall's compositions. In addition to notes, sketches, manuscript drafts, final manuscripts, and printed scores, the papers have a large component of computer code printouts for the work Randall did in the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, when he was concentrating on computer sound synthesis and composition incorporating computers. Documented works from this era include Lyric Variations for Violin and Computer, Eakins, Bell, Horsehigh, Connect and Prelude 1A and 2A. The collection also holds scores for Randall's early and later works for voice, piano, keyboard and other instrumentations, including the GAP series for piano, 9 Salon Pieces for Yamaha DX-100, Svejk, and Shouldn't We Talk.
The remainder of the collection is comprised of Randall's personal files containing his writings, theoretical notes and analyses, correspondence, and concert programs. The writings include drafts, final versions and rejected content for the essays and collections How Music Goes, Compose Yourself: A Manual for the Young, and Tonality, as well as lectures, speeches, course descriptions, and papers Randall wrote as a student. The correspondence makes up only three folders in the collection, but holds letters from Aaron Copland, Otto Luening, and the American Society of University Composers.
The collection also has an audio and video component. Unique items include an original DAT recording of GAP7 (2001), a CD-R of a 1980 collaboration between Randall and Marjorie Tichenor called Breathe, and a VHS recording labeled "Pinecone game no. 1 7/28/1981". Among the other audio recordings are 20 cassettes of Randall's improvisational group Inter/Play recorded from 1980 to 1986 (these are copies meant for distribution, not originals), and 14 single or double-CD sets of Randall's music released on the Open Space label. There is also one published CD which does not contain any music by Randall.
Inquiries regarding audio and video materials in the collection may be directed to the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound (firstname.lastname@example.org). Audio materials will be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access.
The J. K. Randall Collection is arranged in two series:
- 1944-200632.5 boxes
This series contains scores, sketches, sketchbooks, notes and computer code printout for Randall's compositions. Although he has written for a variety of instrumental settings including chamber groups, brass and woodwind quintets, string quartets, and solo instruments, Randall remains best known for his pioneering work with computer sound synthesis and composition. Works for computer realization (or that have a component of computer realization) date from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. For these pieces, Randall regarded the computer coding (using either the Music IV or Fortran languages) to be more accurate representations of the music than sound recordings made at the time of creation. Folder contents for these compositions can include preliminary written notes and sketches, followed by code printout, but in some cases only code printout exists.
The composition with the most documentation is Lyric Variations for Violin and Computer (1965-1968). The piece contains 20 variations, and there are written sketches and final scores for the violin part, preliminary notes and sketches for the computer component, and extensive code printout. Randall made multiple attempts at achieving the sound he wanted, and several different code printouts exist for each variation. Randall's notes in pen on the first page of printout usually designate the variation in question. The first few lines of code also provide clues to identification, as they list Randall as author and have a field for title. Randall also wrote titles in ink along the stacked sides of the printout.
Another piece for computer with extensive code printout is Eakins (1965), which was composed for a film about the artist Thomas Eakins. Other works for computer include Bell (1966), Bessel3 (1973), Chanrev1 (1968), Connect (1965), Horsehigh (1971), Oddrev1 (1968), and Prelude 1A and 2A (1965). Many of these have only code printout.
Five pieces for computer composed in 1965 are labeled as having been recorded on "Tanglewood tape 7/65." The five are Connect, Prelude 1A and 2A, Section, and Toronto1.
Randall's works for acoustic instruments and/or voice date from his student days to the early 2000s. Earlier pieces include Piano Sonata (1944-1946), Suite for Piano (1953), Rodeo for Solo Violin (1951), Dance for Woodwind Quintet (1953), Quartet (for woodwinds, 1953), Choral Pieces (1955-1956), Fugues (1955-1956) and Five Monologues for Cello (1955).
After his computer work of the early 1970s, Randall spent several years on the Troubador Project (1977-1980). These are collections of traditional European songs, but they also contain his adaptations of them for voice. His piano/keyboard works include …such words as it were vain to close…(1977); the GAP series (1993-2002), a set of eight pieces, published separately or in small collections; and 9 Salon Pieces for Yamaha DX-100 (1996). His later compositions used unusual instrumental combinations: Svejk (1995-1996) is for violin and marimba; and Shouldn't We Talk (2002-2003) is for baritone saxophone, drums and percussion.
Randall's sketchbooks span his career from the late 1950s to 2006 (there are no books from the 1980s). They appear at the end of the series and often contain preliminary work on compositions found elsewhere in the series. They were stored in binders and some have dividers with titles. Three untitled/unidentified pieces also appear at the end of the series.
There is one piece in the series not composed by Randall. This is Genwot Spectray by Hubert S. Howe (1965), written for computer.
- 1954-200612.5 boxes
Randall's personal files primarily hold his writings, theoretical notes and analyses. They also have a small quantity of correspondence and concert programs.
The writings consist of drafts, manuscripts and rejected content for articles and essays, some of which were published. These include the essays How Music Goes, Tonality, and Halloween '82; the essay collection Compose Yourself: A Manual for the Young; music reviews published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer; an interview transcript with the composer Giacinto Scelsi; manuscripts of Three Lectures To Scientists (published in Perspectives of New Music); an undelivered speech titled Boston; descriptions for courses Randall taught at Princeton; and papers written while Randall was a student at Columbia and Harvard. The essay A Discovery on Livy concerns the Russian composer Sergei Taneiev.
Randall's notes are primarily concerned with his work on computer sound production, but also include theoretical topics (Pitch Systems, Instrumental Overtone Spectra, Harmony Exercises), as well as his notes on a Symphony by Andrew Imbrie. The content of the notes varies. The folders can include written musical analyses and sketches, mathematical formulae, musical exercises and lecture notes, and written computer programming or code printout. They mostly do not contain textual explanations (folder titles were derived from envelopes the notes were contained in).
The analyses include examinations of music by Milton Babbitt, Elliot Carter, Brahms, Haydn, Debussy, and Stockhausen.
The correspondence includes letters from Aaron Copland, Otto Luening and the American Society of University Composers, and a rejected program proposal for the 1986 New Music America festival. The programs are for concerts at Princeton featuring Randall's music.