Everyone Looks to the Sky

Photo: Diana Cooper

Here’s a recording of a new piece called Everyone Looks to the Sky.

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Everyone Looks to the Sky

I made the piece and the recording during my recent residency with David Behrman at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. The work is for any sustaining instrument with computer (here, I’m playing the soprano saxophone). The computer produces a gradually rising tone that matches the first note of each gesture (see the score below). The result is–yes, more glissando music–and a curious kind of interactive piece that always ends the same way.

Here are the juicy bits from the score:

Gesture 1
• Play 5 notes in an ascending series, beginning near the lowest note on your instrument.
For a performance lasting 10 mintues, each note should last 7 or many more seconds. Each note should be separated by a rest of approximately 7 or many more seconds–at a minimum, allow enough time between notes to perceive the computer’s pitch rising. For longer performances, adjust the durations appropriately.

Gesture 2
• Play 4 notes in an ascending series, beginning on any pitch lower than the last pitch of Gesture 1.
Durations of notes and rests are as in Gesture 1.

Gesture 3
• Play 3 notes in an ascending series, beginning on any pitch lower than the last pitch of Gesture 2.
Durations of notes and rests are as in Gesture 1.

Gesture 4
• Play 2 notes in an ascending series, beginning on any pitch lower than the last pitch of Gesture 3.
Durations of notes and rests are as in Gesture 1.

Gesture 5
• Play 5 or more notes in an ascending series, beginning on any pitch lower than the last pitch of Gesture 4.
Durations of notes and rests are as in Gesture 1, with a few notes or rests lasting shorter than 7 seconds, if desired.
Repeat as needed until the piece ends. The last 4 or more pitches played should be near the highest note on your instrument.

Swallowtail and Guitar Trio Recordings

Tara Fracalossi and Thomas Lail slide up the neck during Swallowtail. Photo: Larissa Tapler

Here are recordings from last week’s soundBarn and Albany Sonic Arts Collective performance at the Arts Center Saratoga Springs. It was a great show all around: a good space, enthusiastic audience and focused performances. This is the definitive version of Swallowtail, and I think we’re all pleased with the performance of Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Trio.

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Swallowtail

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Guitar Trio Part 1

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Guitar Trio Part 2

Swallowtail Maiden Flight at Flywheel

Here’s a recording of the premiere performance of Swallowtail from Saturday’s SoundBarn/ASAC Guitar Trio show at Flywheel.

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Swallowtail

I think the piece sounds like a huge train barreling straight at you in slow motion. The performance of Rhys Chatham’s “Guitar Trio” went swimmingly. We’ll be performing the entire program again Saturday, November 20 at the Arts Center Saratoga. Hope to see you there.

Saturday at the Flywheel was an outstanding lineup. Christoph Heeman played a beautiful set, but Son of Earth stole the show, in my opinion. They performed delicate yet far from fragile percussion music–bells, chimes, and pillowy bass drum.

Mt. Washington Pt. 2: Rime

January 11: Summit Weather

  • High temp: 5 F
  • Low temp: -2 F
  • Average Wind Speed: 46.7 mph gusting to 72 mph

A foggy day with visibility down to 1/16th of a mile. The observatory reported zero hours of sunshine for the day. Perfect conditions for rime ice. We could hardly step outside without it accumulating on our clothes and, of course, our gear.

rime ice recording rig

My recording bag covered in rime ice. My headphones were unscathed since I wore them under my balaclava (and hat (and parka hood)).

I brought out my contact mics to record the sound of rime accumulating on them. The best spot I found was attaching them to the windward side of a wooden sign post. Here’s an excerpt:

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rime_accumulation.mp3

Listening to the entire recording one can clearly hear the frequency of the resonant ping sounds increase as more ice accumulates. I suspect the ice accumulation reduces the surface area of the contact mic or otherwise stiffens the transducer–in a manner similar to a drummer increasing the pressure on a drum head and thus causing the pitch to rise.

Here’s a recording of an ice-covered chain squeaking in the wind. The squeak is less metallic than I expected, sounding more like rubbing ice cubes together.

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squeaky_chain.mp3

Here’s a photo of the chain (taken on another, much sunnier day). Yes, this chain appears to be preventing the building from blowing off the mountain. The story I heard is that the chains were an important part of the original building. When they rebuilt the structure, chains were included as an historical and decorative element. There were times when I could have used a chain or two to prevent me from blowing away.

Jackie and I covered in rime ice after our contact mic recording expedition.