Christopher Biggs:
UA Presentation

 
 

Tar

for flute, accordion, and live electronics written for Collect/Project and premiered in February of 2019.

Example 1: Primary material (page 9, rehearsal AA) contracts on each appearance until its compact state. The same materials occurs from B-F and Q-U. The main pitch material of the piece is an augmented triad with one or two half-steps from any single member of the triad – [0,1,4,8]

Example 1: Primary material (page 9, rehearsal AA) contracts on each appearance until its compact state. The same materials occurs from B-F and Q-U.
The main pitch material of the piece is an augmented triad with one or two half-steps from any single member of the triad – [0,1,4,8]

Example 2: A striving, almost romantic theme recurs throughout.

Example 2: A striving, almost romantic theme recurs throughout.

Example 3: This primary rhythm underlies much of the work – sense of order vs. apparent order.

Example 3: This primary rhythm underlies much of the work – sense of order vs. apparent order.

NOTES about the electronics

  • The electronics are performed by a person

  • They are all live, nothing is prerecorded

  • Some segments of the opening of the piece are recorded and played back at different speeds, this happens right after the very opening (before A) and for longer at G

  • The computer program has what I think is a unique feature: it has fully matrix-able, automatic mixing

    • This means that it is possible to sum any set of the digital audio signals, to track the loudness of that set of signals, and then to control any other audio signal based on that result


Surfaces and Essences

for saxophone quartet was written for the Prism Quartet and premiered October of 2018.

Example 1: This primary theme underlies much of the work, but is generally obscured. It consists of all pitches from a harmonic-minor scale (circumstantially). It moves up by 5ths, when it repeats. It will enclose the pitch a 5th above the starting pitch and keep going (e.g. Ab-F#–>G). The first five notes of the theme are particularly important [0,1,3,6]. This excerpt is the beginning of the climax of the work, which has the theme repeatedly in the bari. This theme is always in the bari at sections labelled “D.”

Example 1: This primary theme underlies much of the work, but is generally obscured. It consists of all pitches from a harmonic-minor scale (circumstantially). It moves up by 5ths, when it repeats. It will enclose the pitch a 5th above the starting pitch and keep going (e.g. Ab-F#–>G). The first five notes of the theme are particularly important [0,1,3,6]. This excerpt is the beginning of the climax of the work, which has the theme repeatedly in the bari. This theme is always in the bari at sections labelled “D.”

Example 2: the primary material in the A sections is a wedge – pitch material expands outwards from a center. This first happens in the soprano sax. Also, note that the held material provides a degree of stability and sense of harmonic motion. The tenor notes, which are B/F#, are followed by the bari, which are E/B.

Example 2: the primary material in the A sections is a wedge – pitch material expands outwards from a center. This first happens in the soprano sax. Also, note that the held material provides a degree of stability and sense of harmonic motion. The tenor notes, which are B/F#, are followed by the bari, which are E/B.

Example 3: The C material is always canonic. The canonic interval expands on each presentation within any C section. The pitch for these cannons derive from the pitch material for the main theme. In some cannons it is easier to hear than others, but the goal/arrival intervalic separation is a 5th (on the next page), which is also the goal harmony at the climax of the work.

Example 3: The C material is always canonic. The canonic interval expands on each presentation within any C section. The pitch for these cannons derive from the pitch material for the main theme. In some cannons it is easier to hear than others, but the goal/arrival intervalic separation is a 5th (on the next page), which is also the goal harmony at the climax of the work.

Final comments before listening

  • The “B” material focuses on more abstract, fragmented, less directional material

  • The material that is highlighted in gray in the annotated score, is transitional and hopefully provides some temporary relief to the dense, contrapuntal textures that dominate the 13-minute work

  • The alto saxophonist inserts a thunder tube, a percussion instrument made by Remo that is a tube with a drum head that has a spring on top - pictured below. This partially covers the final hole of the saxophone, which means that the more fingers are down, the more the head/spring of the thunder tube is excited.

  • This work and the previous work were written in fairly close collaboration with the performers. Much of what is written in these works is not advisable, will not sound good or be possible, for many performers.

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Displaced

for cello, bass, harp, piano, and computer was written for Ensemble Dal Niente and premiered in the fall of 2016.

Some notes

  • The computer part is performed by a percussionist and mistakes can be a big issue for some cues. The computer performer triggers nearly 200 cues, most of which trigger sound files, but some only impact sound files. This allows for there to be no click track.

  • The patch allows for sound files to loop, gradually fade in/out, to play segments from any file, etc… It also allows for the files to be played back slower, but maintain their pitch, for rehearsal purposes. You can start from anywhere in the work for rehearsal.

  • The sound files are developed from synthesis, mostly, and from instrumental sample libraries, which can be dangerous.

  • The piece represents human displacement by having the performers displace parts of their body from their instruments throughout the piece. The electronics become the memory of playing by the end of the work and they mimic playing, rather than actually play.

 

Feel free to contact me

Thanks to Professor Asia for inviting me to speak with you all today!