The Contemporary Music Forum's season opener, aptly titled "Feedback," featured five pieces for tape and accompanying human (or vice versa) at the Corcoran Monday night. The program had its ups and downs and several long pauses while the wiring was readjusted. It also brought to mind a proposal -- that devotees of contemporary music consider adopting the signal-to-noise ratio, a favorite tool of electronics engineers, as a useful measure of electronic music.
By this ratio, the concluding "Magus" by Jan Swafford for cello and tape would have scored pretty low. The cello, ably played by Lori Barnet, struggled against a storm of digestive-like tape noises that revealed no particular rationale and went on interminably.
James Fulkerson's "Patterns and Processes" for percussion, tape and slides, whose graphics served as the musical score, was a nicely integrated idea that did not always work. Katherine Hay gave an intensely focused reading of Carman Moore's attractive "Deep Night With Trees" for flute and a tape of nice flutey sounds. Soprano Pamela Jordan created a marvelous relationship with her acoustic speaker protagonist in Dexter Morrill's imaginative "Six Dark Questions," and Frederick Weck, by now a master of tape virtuosity, contributed a pleasant sound design with his "Window on Time."