For solo viola and computer generated sounds ; 2003 ; Duration ca. 16 minutes 25 seconds

It is always a privilege and a joy to compose a work for a performer such as violist John Graham, and to attempt to place the superlative musicianship of such a player within unique musical contexts and landscapes. In this piece, the context was suggested to me by the refrain "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" from Dylan Thomas' familiar but no less powerful poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

The computer-generated sonic "landscapes" through which the solo part "moves" were derived in part from John's own instrument, incorporating transformations of recordings I made of John playing harmonics and pizzicati, bowing upon the bridge and tailpiece of his viola, and tapping and scraping the strings and wooden body. Additionally, the work incorporates ambisonic B format signal processing techniques, decoded for stereo, to attempt to distribute, move and swirl these sounds through an expansive virtual (simulated) soundfield around the soloist. The work was created on my home Linux system. Principal software employed included Csound, Paul Lansky's rt, Richard Furse's Vspace application and various algorithmic compositional programs I have written that generate Csound score "note lists."

JPG score excerpt
This is the first score page from The Dying of the Light.

MP3 audio excerpt
This excerpt, from the premiere concert performance of the work by John Graham, begins at the last measure of page 12 of the score (just before Cue 6, letter S) at the end of a brief viola solo. The computer part re-enters with a progression of nine chords. The chordal tones were derived from resynthesis transformations of recordings of isolated harmonic tones performed by Graham and of vocal samples.

In the following passage (beginning at 0:52 in the excerpt, letter T in the score) the viola line frequently rides over an ever-changing sea of percussive sounds, which include transformations of recordings of Graham tapping on the strings and body of his instrument, as well as assorted "kitchen percussion" sounds such as knives, forks and ping-pong balls. The wind-like computer sounds between 1:19 and 1:29 in the excerpt are transformations of recordings of Graham scraping his bow across the bridge and tailpiece of his viola.
Duration : Two minutes 46 seconds ; size 5.1 MB ; encoding 256 kBit stereo

This work was premiered on an Eastman Computer Music Center series concert (February 5, 2003) and on a faculty recital by John Graham (February 9, 2003) at Kilbourn Hall at Eastman.

For performance information on this work please send e-mail to:
Composer aschindler@esm.rochester.edu

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