Artificial Environment No.8 (2012-13)

pf, tape
16 minutes

Written for Mark Knoop and premiered at Kings Place, London in June 2012. The piece is in 3 movements.

ia)…and the dreams that you dare to dream…
A recording of a famous song is passed through a filter resembling a Venetian blind. At the beginning, the gaps through which sound can enter are very narrow, gradually opening up until the very end of the work when the identity of the source becomes apparent. The piano reinforces certain components of the filtered sound, occasionally hinting at the song that lies beneath and at other times forming its own song out of the available filtered material.

i) Babel
 In Babel, the piano is paired with excerpts from a long recording that was made while walking up and down the queue of tourists waiting to enter Notre Dame de Paris. The title refers to the density of languages encountered at this particular tourist spot and it is speech itself which is the focal point of the composition. Even if the speech cannot be understood, its sonic components, highlighted by the rhythmic “freezing” of the recording, are analysable and form a somewhat random harmonic progression from which the piano material is drawn. Central to the piece is the idea that a musical proposition exists within the accidental narrative of the field recording, to be outlined by the piano part and accessed by a listener willing to play his or her part in this framing of the sound of real life.

ii) Street Street is a piano adaptation of the middle movement of Symphony-Street-Souvenir, a piece for large chamber ensemble originally written for and commissioned by the Ives Ensemble. It was intended for a concert dedicated to the music of Aldo Clementi and the fact that the recording features a carillon in addition to the gradual slowing down/lowering of pitch is of course a nod to the music of the Italian composer. The piano part is a kind of equally-tempered filtering of the bell analysis (which as one might imagine contains many micro-tones) and in its fragmentation provides a strange half-fitting counter-melody to the tape. The carillon recording was made at Vor Frelsers Kirke in Copenhagen.