Sunday, February 04, 2007

Topical Music

Pliable, has a post about the first-ever outbreak of the Avian Flu in Britain. Here's a recent prose score by the composer Bhishma Xenotechnites related to the same topic:
H5N1 (Environmental Music )

This music is for whistlers, or very high treble instruments from any musical tradition (either/or, I think, but maybe one or two whistlers could be in a qroup of instrumentalists, but not vice-versa) . Winds or whistlers need to produce a steady tone of at least 20 seconds' duration. Time is to be indicated by the sound of antique cymbals at intervals as will be specified below. No sounds may be produced or amplified by means of electronics.

Sound any pitch at all (not just "scale pitches") above f''' (which is ca. 1400 Hz.) . There is no upper limit. Choose a pitch and let it sound out steadily (no vibrato) for as long as it can be held; violins, 30 seconds or so up to around a minute (not more). Coming to the end of a tone, take a silent rest of one to two thirds the length of the tone that you just completed. Then repeat the same cycle using next a different pitch. The level of the loudness: not particularly high, but make a full sound. (Crescendo at the start and at the end a fade are good, so long as the pitch is steady.)

The performance will last at least six minutes, or longer, if the performers agree on a duration; the composer thinks the best result will probably ensue if the tone-rest sequence is performed at least a dozen times, and perhaps not more than about twenty, though a still longer performance could be done.

At the first sounded note, the piece will begin. The antique cymbals, as a sort of marker, will be struck three times, at well spaced intervals, and then twice in close succession at the end — five seconds or so apart. On hearing this signal, the performers will finish the tones, one by one, that they may be sounding, and when the last tone falls silent, the performance ends.

Listeners: what you will hear is what you get.

Bhishma Xenotechnites

(some minor revisions, 2007)

(cc) Part of the Public Domain, 2006.

1 comment:

lloyd rodgers said...

i had the pleasure of directing and performing in this wonderful composition in december last year. the experience was truly enlightening. it was very well recieved by a small audience and the players were delighted. it is an elegant and profound work as is everything he composes.