Chance Encounter Blog

what's the music like?

ok, enough of you have asked me this, and of course it is always hard to step outside of it when one has been living inside of it for so long. but here are a few thoughts, for those of you who are asking me this question, in your minds (or in real life!):

composing a piece for soprano and 12 instruments to be performed outside in fresh air, using two groups of instruments at a fair distance from one another without amplification, has been a wonderful challenge. although it presented some new problems, and required a more rigorous level of sonic imagination than i've ever exercised, it does follow naturally from others of my recent pieces, which use spatial aspects and/or different aleatoric textures. moving music outside from a Concert Hall adds two new elements: listeners can move around as they choose in the space between the two groups of musicians, so they can design their own listening experiences to some degree; and players in the two different groups cannot always hear each other. this second element has been compositionally very rewarding, because i am able to create textures that would be very difficult to play if the players COULD hear each other better. the performance of the piece expects, and may even be dependent on, a very limited line of communication, in the acoustic outdoor world. only certain frequencies above certain volumes can be heard across the courtyard (thank you to colin, eric, anthony and lance! - four of the players who helped me figure this out...) - these narrow parameters determined the complex system of cueing in the piece. listeners in the park will be able to hear as much of each group as they decide to hear, and balance and blend to their whims/curiosity/taste. clarity and bold lines are features of the harmonic, melodic and gestural language of the piece because it must participate in the bold landscape of urban sound. but as such these qualities do still remain in my own language - these challenges simply encouraged me to find new articulations of harmony, melody and gesture that will, i'm sure, prove to have diversified my own compositional activity into the future.