Trains (2014)

cello, tape
10 minutes

Written for Francesco Dillon. Premiered at Villa Romana, Florence in October 2014.

What does it mean if I used the highest quality of audio format available to me on my equipment (96 kHz/24 bits) to record the sounds that form the basis of Trains (2014) for cello and tape? Higher sampling rates at the point of recording of course become useful when you slow sound down (with the equivalent drop in pitch), and in fact the seven recordings of trains form an ascending ‘scale’ of sorts, with the first train pitched down 11 semitones and the final one played at its real pitch. Perhaps we could see this melodic minor scale of transpositions as a move between an altered, heightened reality to something closer to the way things are. Certainly the larger transpositions at the beginning, because they were originally recorded at 96 kHz, bring some ultra-sound into the range of human hearing. I also wonder what it means to hear transposed ultrasound — we fundamentally change the sounds by transposing them and what we have left is a distortion of what the ultrasound must really be like (to our cats and dogs).

Performed by Francesco Dillon.