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Posts tagged 'electronics'

Vijay Iyer's "Flute Goals (Five Empty Chambers)" Debuts at Claire Chase's "Density 2036" Series

Claire Chase's density 2036 series is perhaps one of the most ambitious commissioning projects of the 21st century: beginning in 2014, Chase has commissioned 60 minutes worth of compositions for solo flute, and will contintue to do so until 2036—the 100th anniversary of Edgard Varèse's Density 21.5. That means 22 years of commissions, which totals to 1320 minutes of music, and at least 100 new works. 

Chase's density 2036 commissions have already resulted in new works from Marcos Balter (Pessoa for six bass flutes), Mario Diaz de León (Luciform, for flute and electronics), and Matthias Pintscher (Beyond for solo flute). And for the fourth installment in 2016, Chase commissioned Vijay Iyer to compose Flute Goals (Five Empty Chambers), a piece for fixed media / pre-recorded flute sounds. To make this piece, Iyer asked Chase to send him recordings of her improvising, and Iyer used these recordings to compose his piece. The resulting work consists entirely of non-pitched sounds recorded by Chase on five different flutes (contrabass flute, alto flute, flute, piccolo, and ocarina). Iyer explains:

[Chase] displayed a different personality on each instrument; it was like listening to a cypher of whisper-quiet battle emcees, or perhaps a series of encounters with various insect-robots, whirring and buzzing in the air in front of you. I decided I would treat each of her improvisations as an episode. I built a specific environment around each one, and ran them through effects so that her extemporaneous rhythms were triggering other sounds.


Writing in the Village Voice, critic Alison Kinney notes that "Claire Chase wants to show us what solo flute music sounds like when you take away the flute and the soloist. Or when the score is danced, the sound engineer performs, and the flute is played as a drum set."

Iyer's Flute Goals (Five Empty Chambers) reconfigures the roles of composer, performer, and engineer — a true collaboration between musical minds.

New York Festival of Song Features Christopher Cerrone & Friends

Now in its 29th year, the New York Festival of Song will present an evening of music and poetry curated by PSNY composer Christopher Cerrone. Hosted at National Sawdust on December 8th, 2016, this evening features music by Cerrone, along with works by Timo Andres, Ted Hearne, Erin Gee, and Scott Wollschleger, setting poetry by GC Waldrep, Bill Knott, Dorothea Lasky, and Andrea Cohen. 

Vocalist Theo Bleckmann will perform the New York debut of Cerrone's The Naomi Songs, which he premiered at EMPAC in 2015. Cerrone will also preview a new composition, Apocatastasis, which sets the poem of the same name by G. C. Waldrep. Also previewed this evening will be Three songs based on Lasky poems, by Ted Hearne. 

Timo Andres will join Bleckmann as pianist for his recently-premiered Mirror Songs, and the program also features two of Erin Gee'sMouthpiece works, as well as Scott Wollschleger's Fragment on Fragments.  

Check out an excerpt of Cerrone's The Naomi Songs below. 

Katherine Young Joins PSNY


(Katherine Young; photo: Peter Gannushkin)

We're thrilled to welcome composer and bassoonist/improviser Katherine Young to our roster of PSNY composers! Young's compositions exemplify the attention, intuition, embodied knowledge, and indeterminacy that comes from a deep understanding of instrumental possibilities, and her activities over the past ten years show a musical mind open to all of the possibilities of sound.

Young's music can actually proclaim that it is, in fact, "new"—not only new in aesthetic, organization, and style, but also in instrument, performance, and authority. Her scores call for techniques to extend the sonic possibilities of the instruments, and indeed often turning them into systems of body, wood, metal, and electronics. From her experience as a composer, performer, improviser, and collaborator, Young's work manages to be all of these things at once: intentional composition, intuitive improvisation, and close collaboration with performers. We're proud to offer three of Young's works written within the past eight years, each with its own unique sonic world. 

Composed in 2008, Underworld (Dancing) is written for tuba and Wurlitzer electric piano, with each instrument making space for the other within the dimensions of timbre and pitch. The score, which instructs each player within these dimensions, contains gestrual writing, graphic notation, and other innovations designed to allow the "work" to unfold as it is "worked" by the performers, with the instrumentalists reacting both to each other and to each other's instruments. The result is an aural game played between all of these actors, linked by Young's network of associations and resonances. 

Puddles and Crumbs, written in 2014-15 for solo trombone and electronics in collaboration with trombonist Weston Olencki, folds this instrumental dialogue onto itself, augmenting the trombone with electronic effects: reverberation, pitch-shifting, and distortion. A common technique of solo improvisers, routing the signal of an instrument through a chain of effects here actually creates four voices: composer, performer, instrument, and instrumental signal. Young writes that Puddles and Crumbs is a "loving embrace of the by-products, side effects, and detritus of performance." But we could also say that Puddles and Crumbs forces a re-evaluation of "performance" and "side effect", drawing the listener's attention to the middle ground between the two. 

slam creak bzzz, composed in 2012 and revised in 2015, is a string quartet, amplified and augmented to evoke the sound-worlds of mid-century epic cinema. Young translates the phantasmagoric sensory experience of the movie theater into the concert hall, mirroring the effects of cinematic sound design in her composition, which calls on the musicians to play the entire instrument's body, as well as the performer's own human bodies. Check out a recording of slam creak bzzz featuring the Mivos Quartet:

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