Concerto for Active Frogs

for three instruments, chorus, bass/baritone soloist and fixed audio

Anne LeBaron

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for three instruments, chorus, bass/baritone soloist and fixed audio

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Composer Anne LeBaron
Year of Composition 1974
Duration ca.12'


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Categories (all composers) , , , ,
Catalogue ID ce-alb1cff1


The frogs represented in Concerto for Active Frogs are found throughout the U.S. and Mexico and were extracted from the Folkways recording entitled “Sounds of North American Frogs” and assembled into a tape collage. Frogs have lived on this earth for around 200 million years; quite possibly, the first voice in existence was that of a frog. With one exception, all vocalizations are produced with the mouth and nostrils closed. Smaller species with high-pitched voices possess external vocal pouches that balloon out as resonators, whereas the larger species have proportionally smaller vocal sacs. In the very large frogs, there is often no external vocal sac, and the throat merely assumes a swollen appearance during calls.

Mating calls are the sounds frogs make which are most often heard and almost always occur as part of a chorus. The first male reaching a suitable breeding site begins to call, attracting other males who join him to form a chorus; eventually the females begin to make their appearances. Evidence has shown that a female often actively seeks out her partner and makes her choice on the basis of the male’s voice as opposed to his external assets.

Sounds other than mating calls fall into five categories: warning vocalizations, warning sounds, rain calls, screams, and territoriality calls. Warning chirps and croaks are some of the more striking sounds chosen for the tape collage in the Concerto. When large breeding aggregations of frogs assemble, sexual excitement reaches a high peak. Under such conditions, it is not unusual for males to attempt to clasp virtually anything of appropriate size. If one male makes this mistake, the wrongly seized male struggles to escape and abruptly emits a warning croak or chirp, insuring its prompt release. Another distinctive sound, the scream, occurs when a frog is startled or injured and is the only sound produced with the mouth widely open. This work was conceived as a showcase for the frogs. The chorus of humans and the instrumentalists react individually to the frogs, creating various “conversations” in the process. The Concerto is designed to open, or at least widen, a channel of awareness and respect for the inherent musicality of these ancient tailless amphibians.

First performed in 1975 at Ferguson Hall Theater in Tuscaloosa, Alabama as part of the Raudelunas ‘Pataphysical Revue.

Performance of this work requires additional media. Due to file size, these will be delivered via file transfer service upon purchase of the work. If you do not receive these additional files, please contact Composers Edition.