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remainder

for amplified solo percussion with live video projection (2013)

Premiere: Christian Smith, Music Academy Basel, Basel, Switzerland. January 21, 2015 (preview)// Ross Aftel, Slingshot Festival, Athens, GA, USA. March 27, 2015 (premiere)

performance

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Video: (coming soon)

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Score excerpt:

score sample

Photos (used implements):

About the piece:

In remainder, a percussionist produces sound by scraping a surface with an implement. The implement’s movement emerges from the interaction of two independent, functionally equal physical parameters: horizontal pressure (blue line), directed parallel to the surface, and vertical pressure (red line), directed towards the surface. Horizontal pressure is a current, moving the implement across the surface, while vertical pressure is a switch, mediating the current’s translation into motion and sound. Increased vertical pressure may increase volume, but, past a certain point, it will prevent horizontal motion. With high vertical pressure and low horizontal pressure, the performer will expend a great deal of physical energy without producing much sound. If sound does occur in this situation, it not be from the implement’s intentional horizontal movement, but rather from the implement’s unintentional flexing, slipping, or shifting. Therefore, in this work, sound functions not as a transparent index of intentional, controlled bodily movement, but instead as an incidental byproduct of what are often inefficient, contradictory, and involuntary actions.

Remainder constructs a rhizomatic, non-hierarchical assemblage between score, performer, and instrument, where the score activates dialogue between the particularities of the performer and the instrument. In navigating contradictory actions, the performer’s body and the instrument are always in excess of the composer’s (and indeed often the performer’s own) intention. A successful performance of this piece will not entail compliance with an a priori sound image (there is none), but instead will articulate the notation’s contradictions in a way that is unique to the specific performer and chosen surface/implement combination.

Live multichannel video projection and audio amplification help to make manifest the work’s overdetermined actions. Movements in this work are potential sound, and thus visual amplification functions primarily to entice and steer the ears into attempting to locate sounds corresponding to visible actions. Given the work’s frequent disparities between effort and volume, and between notational and sonic intricacy, visual space does not passively double audible space but exceeds and complicates it.