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  • electronics
  • perc
  • 1 hr 5 min

Programme Note

All noise contains pure tone. And the complex sonorities of percussion instruments conceal choirs of inner voices. In The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies my search is to find and reveal those voices.

These pieces invite the soloist and the listener to traverse the topographies of eight sonic fields derived from the inherent resonances of the instruments.

1. burst - 4 snare drums
2. rumble - large bass drum
3. shimmer - 8 triangles
4. roar - large tam-tam
5. thunder - 8 low drums and 2 kick drums
6. wail - siren
7. crash - 8 suspended cymbals
8. stutter - 4 snare drums

Each piece in this cycle is composed of two elements: a solo part and an "aura" of pre-recorded computer-processed sounds. In performance these elements are integrated into a unified sounding image.

Depending on the size and the acoustics of the performance space, amplification of the percussion instruments may be required - not so much for loudness as to create a more spatially unified image from the "live" and recorded sounds. The recorded sounds are available in either stereo or a four-channel mix.

In all eight pieces the solo part and the aura begin together, continue throughout and end together. To coordinate the solos with the recorded elements, the tempo markings must be observed with absolute precision. The percussionist may wish to use a click track through earphones or a flashing light metronome hidden from the audience.

Total performance duration is about 70 minutes.

The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies was commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, WNYC (New York) and the Subtropics Festival (Miami), with funding from Meet the Composer.

The work is dedicated to Steven Schick, with admiration, gratitude and respect.

John Luther Adams