• John Luther Adams
  • Strange and Sacred Noise (1997)

  • Taiga Press (BMI) (World)
  • 4perc
  • 1 hr 15 min

Programme Note

Noise - complex, aperiodic sound - touches and moves us in profound and mysterious ways. Strange and Sacred Noise is a celebration of noise as a metaphor for turbulent phenomena in the world around us, and a gateway to ecstatic experience.

Grounded in the elemental violence of nature and the self-similar forms of linear fractals, this music is a convergence of sonic geography and sonic geometry. Each piece in the cycle is conceived as its own distinct and separate sound world, evoking the immediacy and presence of a place.

These soundscapes are inspired by and dedicated to composers who have explored strange new worlds of sound.

...dust into dust... is a sonic equivalent of the Cantor dust - a fractal model of the behavior of electrical noise - articulated by 2 snare drums and 2 fields drums.

solitary and time-breaking waves (after James Tenney) is scored for 4 tam-tams. Waves of intensity with varied periods gradually drift together cresting in a massive tsunami of sound.

velocities crossing in phase space (after Conlon Nancarrow and Peter Garland) - for 6 tom-toms and 4 bass drums - is a canon in continuous waves of acceleration and ritardando, modeled after Nancarrow's Canon X and Garland's Meditation on Thunder.

triadic iteration lattices (to Edgard Varése and Alvin Lucier) - for four sirens - traverses an expanding field of rising and falling glissandi. The piece is modeled on the Seripenski gasket: an Eiffel-tower of reiterated, telescoping pyramids.

clusters on a quadrilateral grid (to Morton Feldman) is scored for four marimbas, four vibraphones, and four sets of orchestra bells. It is a sounding of the Menger Sponge: an enigmatic quadrilateral with an infinite surface area, and a volume of zero.

...and dust rising... is scored for 2 snare drums and 2 field drums. Out of silence, points of dust emerge to become relentless, reiterated noise.

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