Found Waves: Live music in Surround Sound

Friday, February 24th the Lamont Flute Ensemble will perform a collection of new works at Hamilton Hall in the Newman Center, Denver. One of these works, Found Waves is my composition written specifically for this performance and this hall.

Found Waves is for five flutists positioned about the hall, one on stage with the other four in the four corners of the room. The parts played in the four corners are elements that function as a single line flowing around the room, while the center flute plays a melody. Yet, there are also times when the music slowly shifts from one side (or front to back) and the center flute adds to the slow panning of the sound.

The concept of the piece wasn't difficult. I took a page from electro-acoustic music and the placement of sound in the room. However, creating musical lines that were playable was something else entirely. On page 7 of the score (mm 22) accent occur in the parts, but not at the same time for the various players. This creates a sense of motion while the 16th notes fill the room, the accented notes create the motion.

By the time we get to page 9 (mm29) not only the accents are moving about the room, but so is the musical line. While the placement of the 16th notes in the Forward Right(FR) and Rear Left(RL) parts are not particularly difficult on their own, consider they will be hearing their fellow musicians slightly delayed. They can't rely on their ears to place their notes in time. According to the musicians they actually need to play almost a full 16th note ahead of where they feel they should.

However, they can't just ignore the other flutes either. In the beginning of the piece and later on at Page 11 (rehearsal mark C) the flutes have quarter tones creating the feeling of the music slowly sliding upwards. The ability to be in tune with each other is critical, so listening to their fellow musicians must be done.

The result is a piece of music that forces the musicians to focus on their part and the conductor and yet also be highly focused on the other players in the ensemble.

Here is the video of the ensemble rehearsing the piece.

I've included the score and a midi realization which somewhat captures the stereo effect of the music so you can listen and follow along.


Anonymous said…
Great! I enjoyed listening and then having the explanation of what was going on for my untrained ear!
Jess's Mom
Chip Michael said…

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jess who not only organized the concert but oversaw the rehearsal of my piece - which took far more hours than performers normally commit to such a project. I'm flattered and honored by all her efforts. She is truly amazing!


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