Alvin Lucier: Ever Present


Alvin Lucier: Ever Present

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  • Piper (2000)

  • Fan (2003)

  • 947 (2001)

  • Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra (1988)

  • Ever present (2002)

 

Alvin Lucier’s works on this CD, for solos and trios, continue to explore his unique sound world, exploration of microtones, and use of unusual instrumentation.

Piper is probably one of the few avant-garde pieces composed for the bagpipe. The piper is asked to walk slowly around the performance space, sounding his instrument as he does so. From time to time he detunes the chanters, creating beating patterns of slightly varying speeds and minor spatial disturbances (imaginary dopplers).

In Fan, 4 koto players play a long series of plucked tones over a 12-minute time span, gradually stepping up to 4 semitones above the starting tone and slowing down to 1 beat every 2, 3, 4, and 5 seconds. As they do so, audible beating at various speeds occurs among the plucked sounds of the instruments.

During the course of 947, 4 pure tones are sounded in all their combinations. As they do so a flutist sustains closely tuned long tones against them, creating audible beats at speeds determined by the distances between her tones and those of the pure waves. The farther apart the faster the beating. At unison no beating occurs. Occasionally the flutist bends her pitches a few cycles per second causing the beating patterns to slow down and speed up.

In Silver Streetcar, the player dampens the triangle with the thumb and forefinger of one hand while tapping the instrument with the other. The performance consists of moving the geographical locations of these two activities and changing the pressure of the fingers on the triangles as well as the speed and loudness of the tapping. During the course of the performance, the acoustic characteristics of the folded metal bar are revealed.

Ever Present is inspired by Robert Irwin's garden at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Tone waves in constant motion sweep up and down as the players sustain long tones across them, creating beating patterns at speeds determined by the closeness of the tunings.

Liner notes by the composer.

Four first recordings.

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