Instrumentation: amplified prepared piano and electronics
Duration: ca. 8:20
Premiere: May 20, 2014 :: Jeannette Fang, piano; David Biedenbender, electronics :: University of Michigan, Stamps Auditorium, Ann Arbor, MI
Resonance Modes was inspired by a completely imaginary and impractical preparation of the piano, one that I never actually intended to use, but seemed like an interesting starting point for the piece. I imagined hundreds of small liquid mercury droplets being poured into the piano and dancing on the sounding board and strings in beautiful and interesting ways. Although impossible for several obvious reasons (principally, the health and safety of the performer, the audience, and the piano!), this idea came from mercury’s relatively unique properties, namely the high density and surface tension which cause it to resonate at different frequencies in beautifully different ways. One droplet of mercury can be transformed into thousands of different shapes when vibrating at various frequencies, and certain frequencies take on particularly interesting characteristics because of the resonance modes. Rather than explain resonance modes in detail, you can see mercury’s resonance modes in action here, which I think will illustrate the relationship to the piece more vividly. In the piece, I dwell on a small set of pitches and timbres which are slowly transformed primarily through rhythmic processes as a way of exploring these imaginary resonance modes over time.
Instrumentation: stereo electroacoustic
Premiere: Electronic Music from the Big 10 :: Becker Communications Building Lecture Hall Room 101 :: University of Iowa :: Iowa City, IA
Program Note: I believe that we listen physically. Let me explain: when we listen, our bodies participate by locating the sounds we hear within ourselves—and our own experience—which then enables us to find meaning in the sounds, even on a very basic level. Within the context of a piece of music, sound can create a space that is both familiar and unfamiliar, real and surreal—a space that can have greater clarity and deeper meaning than reality. For me, one of the challenges of electronic music is often the disembodied nature of the sounds. Much of how we understand sound comes from seeing and feeling it or, in the case of recorded music, imagining seeing the source of the sound; however, this becomes more difficult as the sound becomes more abstract. All of the sounds used in Awakening were recorded from acoustic sources—singing, dancing, screaming, Tibetan singing bowls, a euphonium, etc.—and were manipulated and juxtaposed using electronic processes to transform, obscure, and enhance them. My goal was to create sounds that although somewhat abstract, for me, elicit a very visceral, physical reaction—to create music that shakes me as a listener, both physically and emotionally. With this in mind, Awakening is part of a period in my electronic music in which I was concerned with reconnecting myself to the sounds of war—to go beyond sound bytes and tweets, news broadcasts and YouTube videos, and really dive in to the meaning of violence. Rather than use overt sonic references to war, my goal is to connect the listener to the physical, visceral experience of this violence, and, in doing so, hopefully reflect on it more deeply.
Instrumentation: stereo electroacoustic
Premiere: July 22, 2009 :: Interlochen Center for the Arts, Interlochen, MI
I believe that we all listen physically. When we listen, our bodies participate by locating the sounds we hear within ourselves—and our own experience—which then enables us to find meaning in the sounds, even on a very basic level. Within the context and focus of a piece of music, sound can create a space that is both familiar and unfamiliar, real and surreal—a space that has greater clarity and deeper meaning than reality. My hope with this piece is to create that space. cold. hard. steel. is a juxtaposition of man-made sounds—sounds made by us—fragile, delicate, and vulnerable—and sounds made by objects made by us—harsh, brutal, and inhuman.