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For Ann (rising) was the last electronic work Tenney wrote before leaving New York City for California, and subsequently Toronto (where he now lives). In fact, to this date, it is his last electronic piece (with the exception of some works involving live performers and delay system, and a very recent text piece, edited and created with the help of a computer music-editing workstation). Many people associate Tenney most closely with this work, for it seems to embody the most essential aspects of his aesthetic: clear, predictable formal procedures; a lack of any kind of narrative structure; a deep interest in acoustical phenomena and their musical and formal manifestations; a sense of humor. For Ann (rising) is based on a set of continuously rising tones, similar to the acoustic illusion sometimes called a Shepard-tone (named after the pioneering experimental psychologist Roger Shepard, a colleague of Tenney’s at Bell Labs). The process is simple: each glissando, separated by some fixed time interval, fades in from it’s lowest note, and fades out as it nears the top of it’s audible range. It is nearly impossible to follow, aurally, the path of any given glissando, so the effect is that the individual tones never reach their highest pitch. For Ann (rising) has at various times been called a classic of American minimalism, process music, or conceptual music. Whatever it is, it clearly represents a landmark in Tenney’s own compositional output, which like the piece, has continued to develop (rise), seemingly without any conceptual end in sight.
The original analog recording of For Ann (rising) was first released on Musicworks #27 cassette. It was later remastered by Tom Erbe, and appeared on Ear Magazine’s Absolut Music CD #3.