From Vortex LP liner notes

Vortex (Folkway FX 6301)
1. Trilogy David Talcott
2. Chan Henry Jacobs
3. For the Big Horn Wm. Loughborough
4. Logos Henry Jacobs
5. Rhythm Study #8 Henry Jacobs
6. Notes on the History of the World Gordon Longfellow
7. Loop #3 David Talcott
8. Electronic Kabuki Mambo Henry Jacobs
9. 350-2 Gordon Longfellow

I bought this amazing and pioneering  LP last year in the US  it has some incredible sound works and early electronic tape music Ive ever heard ,I had been aware for many years and a huge admirer of Jorden Belson and Henry Jacobs and familiar with there film works since the mid 70,s, in fact some of them are used by Donald Cammel the Great British Film maker in his 2nd Film The Demon Seed (1977 ) of which I used samples for the ClockDVA Album Digital Soundtracks in 1992, He also directed the astonishing film PERFORMANCE (1970 ) whom many credit  to Nicholas Roeg ,but this is very much a Donald Cammel film ,Cammel who was a good friend of Keneth Anger and William Burroughs , Cammel had wrote a script called Ishtar that was to feature William Burroughs. Cammel,s Father authored a book on occultist Aleister Crowley and Cammel was familiar with the Underground Film movement and all those associated artists.  I will be posting an extensive piece on Donald Cammel in a future  post here , as he,s  a extremely fascinating and interesting figure, but to return to the Vortex concerts and the extraordinary pioneering series of multi media and expanded concerts that where performed in San Franscisco in the late 1950,s.

I will also post an extensive piece on Jordon Belson at a latter date.


George Abend (1922-1976) painter. Born in New York City: attended CSFA 1946-1952, UC Berkeley, The Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris and the University of Guadalajara in Mexico. An abstract expressionist painter whose early work resembled Clyfford Still’s, in the 1950s and 1960s he developed a more gestural, theatrical form of action painting, generally with an underpinning of natural forms. With Jordan Belson and Chris McLain, he was among the first visual artists to work with the environmental, light and sound program, Vortex. In the early 1970s he painted large abstract canvasses designed to be installed as room sized environments. He was active on the East Coast between 1962 and 1966, in Los Angeles between 1966 and 1969, and in Big Sur and Santa Cruz until his death.


Jordan Belson abandoned a brief but successful career as an abstract painter to experiment with visionary abstract films–which he later raised to an unprecedented level of expression. The dancer Ann Halprin wove together extraordinary combinations of new music and impromptu theater. In a sense, everything ultimately became a form of theater. This trend achieved a Wagnerian dimension in Vortex, a series of concerts held at the Morrison Planetarium in the late 1950s, which enveloped the spectator in wall-to-wall electronic sound and overhead light effects: these were the result of a collaboration between Jordan Belson, who was responsible for visuals and Henry Jacobs, who circulated the sounds around a circle of 36 loudspeakers.


Henry Jacobs and Jordon Belson Morrison Planetarium, San Francisco around 1958


Still from Allures (1961) Jorden Bellson

Vortex 4, may 1958 (?) Program Notes

VORTEX 4 MAY 12, 13, 19 & 20 8:00 & 9:15 P.M. Morrison Planetarium, San Francisco
Fantastica…..Russ Garcia A collage of sound patterns from one of the more imaginative “music of outer space” LP recordings. Effects by Ted Keep.
Symphony of the Birds…..Jim Fassett The Mysterioso Movement from Fassett’s experimental symphony composed of bird sounds, which have been manipulated to simulate tonal and harmonic values.
Three-Fifty Dash Two…..Gordon Longfellow An experiment in middle and high frequency sounds designed for rotational playback.
Song of the Holy Children……Karlheinz Stockhausen Excerpts from this well-known Cologne Studio work which is constructed from vocally intoned phonemes and pure sinus tones.
The Awakening…..L.K. Dunham “I think of this simply as a rather charming Afro-sonic gestalt. LKD
Aoi-No-Ue…..Toshiro Mayuzumi Excerpts from the Japanese No play, “Princess Hollyhock”, in an electronically stylized simulation of actual No narration and music. Produced at the Electronic Studios of Radio NHK, Tokyo, Japan.
Space Race……Effects by Jose Duarte A provocative application of synthetic sound to popular culture.
Piano and Piano…….David L. Talcott A new work exploiting the modifications possible to the natural piano sound.
Rhythmology……Henry Jacobs A trilogic study in polyrhythmic intensity. Vocal intonations by Tagore Swingington.
Flight…..Pieter Van Deusen Composed for dancer Ann Halprin, this work exploits the musical possibilities of natural sounds through looped repetitions.
Untitled…. George Abend An electronic treatment of piano and reed sounds with implications of jazz feeling.
Logos….Henry Jacobs A contrast of sound textures arranged serially as a sound track for the animated film, “Logos”, by Jane Belson. (The film was shown in April at the Brussels Exhibition.)
Trilogy in Two channels…..David L. Talcott An entirely new presentation of this “early” Vortex work over two separate audio channels. The 38 peripheral Planetarium loudspeakers will interact with a special center playback system (located on the projector platform) and thus totally envelop the audience. This experiment may suggest a new dimension of Vortex.
Static Relief…..Tooru Takemitsu An interesting eclectic work where Takemitsu combines the techniques of the French “concretists” and the German “sinusoidals”.
Recordings Used 1…..Liberty LRP 3084 (12″LP) 2…..Ficker C 1002 (12″ LP) 3…..45 RPM pub. by T. Presser Co., Bryn Mawr, Pa. 4…..Okeh 4-7100 (45RPM) 5…..MEA Sterotape (?JH) 101 6…..Universal PSP 1009 (Japanese 10″ LP)
A stereophonic tape of the highlights of Vortex I, II, and III has been produced by Musical Engineering Associates of Sausalito. It can be purchased at the Main Desk of the Planetarium for $11.95.
Technical Consultants Alvin Gundred and David L. Talcott Visual Consultant George Bunton Publicity Donna Teich and Gary Barrett Announcer Charles Levy Special Projector Loaned by KRON-TV Visual Coordinator Jordan Belson Audio Coordinator Henry Jacobs
Vortex IV is sponsored by the Audio Visual Research Foundation with the cooperation of the Morrison Planetarium.
Magnetic Tape
In an age characterized by revolutionary technological changes, magnetic tape recording has emerged as a highly efficient means of storing information. Beyond this, tape presents a new opportunity to musicians: one performer and sound engineer can unite their functions into one artistic expression. The field of tape composed music is relatively new, having developed in France (“musique concrete”), Germany (Elektronische Musik), Italy, Japan and the United States in the last decade. The challenge of the possibilities of magnetic tape is compelling.
Vortex is a new form of theater based on the combination of electronics, optics and architecture. Its purpose is to reach an audience as a pure theater appealing directly to the senses. The elements of Vortex are sound, light, color, and movement in their most comprehensive theatrical expression. These audio-visual combinations are presented in a circular, domed theater equipped with special projectors and sound systems. In Vortex there is no separation of audience and stage or screen; the entire domed area becomes a living theater of sound and light.
Vortex had its beginning in 1957 as an audio-visual experiment under the joint sponsorship of radio station KPFA and the California Academy of Sciences. Founders Jordan Belson and Henry Jacobs ascertained the Morrison Planetarium with its extensive loudspeaker system ideal as a demonstration laboratory. With the thirty-eight high-fidelity speakers, actual movement and gyration of sound was made possible by means of a special rotary console.
Utilizing the elaborate Planetarium lighting system along with special projectors, coordinated full-scale visual effects gave promise of an exciting new form of theater. The premiere of Vortex on May 28, 1957 to a capacity audience established this audio-visual experiment as a true theater of the future with a potential for directly reaching an audience with unique sensory experiences not based on the customary story, music, or entertainers. Vortex is direct. There is no age, linguistic nor aesthetic barrier to experiencing Vortex.
On the basis of the success of thirteen performances of Vortex to audiences totalling over 5000, the Audio-Visual Research Foundation was established in 1958 as a basis for interchange of information and to gain support from composers, artists and scientists throughout the world who are working with the experimental aspects of audio-visual phenomena. Already interest in the Vortex project has come from Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Japan.
At present the Foundation is continuing the public demonstrations at the Morrison Planetarium as well as experimenting with an air-supported radome as a laboratory for new projection methods and sound reproducing em (?JH)
The Planetarium employs a 75-watt Langevin amplification system. Speakers are Jensen, University and Bell & Howell. Bass speakers are Jim Lansing, driven by a custom 100-watt amplifier: Tape playback is provided by the new model professional Magnecord. All tape travels at 15 inches per second in this demonstration. Most of the original Vortex tapes were made on Ampex 600 and 350 recording machines.

VORTEX 5 January 12 & 13 19 & 20 26 & 27 8:00 & 9:00 P.M.
Suite in the Form of a Mushroom James Cunningham A Piece for Tape Recorder Vladimir Ussachevsky Untitled Tooru Takemitsu Omaggio a Joyce Luciano Berio Tribulation, 1958 David Talcott Song of the second Moon B. Raymakers
Artikulation Gyorgy Ligeti 350 Dash Two Gordon Longfellow Continuo Bruno Maderna Etude aux Sons Tendus Luc Ferrari Dialogue for Man and Machine Henk(?JH) Badings
Electronic music (or ” musique concrete”) has been made possible by the development of magnetic tape recording. This new art form is now being practiced in almost every country in the world. Leading contemporary composers (such as Boulez, Krenek, and Varese) have turned their attention to the musical possibilities of tape. In this, its fifth season, Vortex is bringing the Bay Area a definitive selection of the best compositions in this field, many of which were recently premiered in the Experimental Music Festival at the Brussels World Fair. A unique and distinguishing feature of Vortex is the accompaniment of visual non-objective projections throughout the program.


henryjacobsjacobs_microphoneMI0000366011 copy


Henry Jacobs’ role in Vortex is two-fold: as a composer-engineer whose works have been included in the programs, and as the organizer of the Vortex project at its inception.

His background is varied: An M.A. in Sociology and Mass Communications; a publicist successful enough to draw some 10,000 people to the Morrison Planetarium to witness the Vortex experiments; a purveyor of Culture and Esoterica via his five years of Ethnic Music broadcasts on Berkeley’s long-hair non-commercial KPFA; as a humorist whose records have sold in the millions (but the royalties of which seem to defy the facts), as a television director in Mexico City whose programs reached the listener in Spanish; as an unsuccessful college instructor whose students mostly failed in life; as a psychiatric medical advisor with no degree; and of course, as an unpublished poet.

About Vortex, Jacobs comments: “Unfortunately, the most significant and valid aspects about this project cannot be revealed in print. It is a kind of new sensory communication which allows the receiver to create even more excitingly than the communicator–a rare, but stimulating opportunity in these days of the million dollar cliche on television, films and videotaec t is(?JH) admittedly non-intellectual, non-educational and non-reformational, Vortex occasionally takes its audiences to areas hitherto unimagined and there is a purely accidental aesthetic experience which is so overpowering that even memory is obliterated by the dominance of that moment. Because of this, people cannot disregard Vortex, it does provoke irrespective of all else, this provocation in a cultural context of pre-fabricated dreams, pre-fabricated houses, and indeed pre-fabricated lives, is self-justifying and necessary.


A Californian, is in his late twenties. Before joining the Ampex Corporation, in 1953, he worked as a professional popular pianist and singer. He became interested in the possibilities of magnetic tape for musical composition after attending the first Vortex demonstration. Since then, Mr. Longfellow has been active as a composer and experimenter in the field. “350 Dash Two” was premiered at Vortex 4 and later featured in the Vortex presentation at Brussels. In this work, Mr. Longfellow a d (?JH) rotational playback possibilities for metallic sounds in different pitches.


Was born in California in 1938. a musician and electronics engineer, he has been associated with radio station KPFA for five or six years. At KPFA Talcott has engineered and produced numerous dramatic programs. He has also been an important figure, both technically and creatively, in the vortex demonstrations. His earlier works, “Trilogy”, “Loop Number 3” and “Piano and Piano” have clearly established Talcott as a skillful and talented composer. “Tribulation 1958” premiered by Vortex at the Brussels Fair, is this artist’s most ambitious and complex work, in which he combines piano and synthetic sounds.
The Vortex demonstrations are sponsored by the Audio-Visual Research Foundation with the cooperation of the Morrison Planetarium. The Foundation is organized to explore the esthetic possibilities of technological developments in auditory and visual media. Our first project, Vortex, stems directly from this approach.
Technically Vortex utilizes all known systems of projection, along with one of the most highly developed sound playback systems extant. Yet, it is a live creation of sound and image, being performed for a specific audience. Vortex is based on a mutual complement of aural and visual elements, in which they reveal unspoken meanings about one another which exist in neither alone. Having presented successful Vortex series in San Francisco and Brussels, the Foundation hopes to give demonstrations in Tokyo and Moscow in 1959.
Technical consultants George Bunton & Alvin Gundred Publicity Gary Barrett Announcer Charles Levy Special Visual Effects Hy Hirsh and James Whitney Technical Assistance Junius Adams, Robert Greensfelder & David Porazzo Visual Coordinator Jordan Belson Audio Coordinator Henry Jacobs
This complimentary program donated by High Fidelity Unlimited of Menlo Park (soon to open in San Francisco) specializing in quality high fidelity components and Ampex home music systems.


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