Navigations for Strings; Small Waves
Navigations for Strings (1991) (15:17)
The Arditti Quartet
Download the MP3 sample (2MB)
Small Waves (1997) (55:48)
for String Quartet, Trombone, Piano and Two Water Pourers
Hildegard Kleeb, piano
Roland Dahinden, trombone
The Arditti Quartet: Irvine Arditti & Graeme Jennings, violins, Scheindlin, viola, Rohan de Saram, cello
Download the MP3 sample (1.8MB)
Alvin Lucier (b. 1931) has been a pioneer in many areas of music composition and performance, including the notation of performers' physical gestures, the use of brain waves in live performance, the generation of visual imagery by sound in vibrating media, and the evocation of room acoustics for musical purposes. His recent works include a series of sound installations and works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and orchestra in which - by means of close tunings with pure tones - sound waves are caused to spin through space.
In Small Waves (1997), six glass vessels, some partially filled with water, are mounted on pedestals scattered around the performance space. Microphones are inserted into the mouths of the vessels, then routed through compressor-limiters to amplifiers and monitor speakers. During the course of the performance, the volume levels of the amplifiers are raised and lowered, causing feedback at pitches determined by the size and shape of the containers and their proximity to the loudspeakers. Following a sequence notated in the score, the players closely tune with the feedback strands causing interference patterns. At times, two water pourers empty water from one container to another, raising and lowering the pitches of the sounds from those containers.
Mode 124 CD
Since the late 1960s when he was a co-founder of The Sonic Arts Union, Alvin Lucier has been exploring the microscopic components of sound, environmental acoustics, human hearing perception and natural sonorous phenomena. Navigation for Strings (1991) grew out of his study of audible atmospheric tones. The Arditti Quartet gradually compress a four note melodic cell (spanning a minor third) down to a single pitch through nearly imperceptible microtonal intervals, producing a subtle, buzzing complement of rhythmic beats in the process. In Small Waves (1997), the Ardittis, plus trombonist Roland Dahinden, must align and microtonally after their pitches with and against feedback drones created by inserting microphones into nottles and jars partly filled with water, while pianist Hildergard Kleeb outlines the feedback's harmonic context. Dramatic modulations occur over time, and surprising consonant harmonies and teeth-grinding dissonances emerge and recede. At nearly an hour in length, Small Waves has the concentrated focus and nearly static progress of a late Feldman piece, though deriving from a distinctive combination of science and aesthetics.
--- Art Lange, The Wire, December 2003
© Mode Records