For percussionist and computer-generated sounds; 1989 ; Duration ca. 15:36
At the Edge, one of a series of works I have realized for prominent American soloists interacting with computer generated and processed sounds, was commissioned for percussionist John Beck and supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The thematic ideas and musical gestures of the piece grew out of the composer's admiration for Mr. Beck's playing, which is at once highly charged and meticulous. The piece also has been performed by percussionists in Canada, Europe, New York and on several American university and conservatory concert series.
The work unfolds in a broad, continuous mosaic, and grows out of two contrasting ideas that are juxtaposed at the very outset: a rhythmically explosive figure, and a "distant," chorale-like phrase. Timbral, rhythmic, melodic and harmonic motives embedded within these two polar ideas are subsequently developed, extended and re-combined in leap-frog alternation, chasing each other throughout the rest of the piece. The solo and computer parts share much common material, but the solo part develops these ideas in freer, sometimes improvisatory fashion. At times the solo and computer parts are closely integrated and synchronized, blending together, while in other passages they pull apart into separate layers. This cyclical "pulling apart" and "coming together" (reintegration) of motivic ideas, and of the solo and computer parts, is pivotal to the formal design and expressive sweep of the piece.
Software employed in realization of the computer part on NeXT computer systems at the Eastman Computer Music Center included Csound (Vercoe) and Score11 (Brinkman), CMIX linear prediction programs (Lansky et al.), and various soundfile utility and algorithmic compositional programs written by the composer and other ECMC staff members.
PDF score excerpt
MP3 audio excerpt
A compact disc recording of this work, performed by John Beck, is available on Volume 14, CRC 2177, "The Virtuoso in the Computer Age" of the CDCM Computer Music Series.For performance information on this work please send e-mail to:
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