• 2pic.2.2+cbcl.2+cbn/2.2.2+btbn.1/2perc/pf.cel/str/electronics
  • 2pf/electronics
  • 12 min

Programme Note

In recent years I've composed in mixed media, combining electronic sounds with acoustic instruments, both solos and small ensembles. But Dark Waves is the first time I've mixed electronics with the complex sonorities of the symphony orchestra.

I began with an impossible orchestra - large choirs of virtual instruments, with no musicians, no articulation and no breathing - sculpting layer upon layer into expansive waves of sound. Then I added the human element.

The musicians of the real orchestra impart depth and texture, shimmer and substance to the electronic sounds. They give the music life. Their instruments speak in different ways. They change bow directions. They breathe. They play at different speeds. They ride the waves.

Together, the orchestra and the electronics evoke a vast rolling sea. Waves of Perfect Fifths rise and fall, in tempo relationships of 3, 5 and 7. At the central moment, these waves crest together in a tsunami of sound encompassing all twelve chromatic tones and the full range of the orchestra.

As I composed Dark Waves I pondered the ominous events of our times: terrorism and war, intensifying storms and wildfires, the melting of the polar ice and the rising of the seas. Yet even in the presence of our deepening fears, we find ourselves immersed in the mysterious beauty of this world. Amid the turbulent waves we may still find the light, the wisdom and the courage we need to pass through this darkness of our own making.

John Luther Adams