for amplified string quartet and electronics
A few years ago, I became enthralled with the opening scene of an epic movie. In this scene there is virtually no dialog, and a complex soundscape defers the musical soundtrack more than 11 minutes. The microphonic sound design and use of silence enhance the scene's suspense while simultaneously encouraging close listening. And the patient pacing - and the ultimate slippage between diagetic and non-diagetic sounds - underscore the scene's scene fundamental musicality. Somehow this scene was doing something I wanted to be doing in my music, and so I had to investigate.
Using a process of transcription that freely moved between the literal and metaphoric, followed by layers of revisions, erasures and additions, I took the scene’s timing for a first structural layer of my piece, before allowing purely musical and instrumental decisions to take over. slam creak bzzz also uses sound samples from the actual film at strategic moments, in conjunction with extra-instrumental noises from the quartet and amplification. As the physicality of the performers and the sonic presence of the acoustic and amplified sounds confront the samples from the film, slam creak bzzz proposes a sound world charged with anticipation and captivated by sonic materiality, as hints of a narrative and violence slip in and out of abstraction. This piece is dedicated to the memory of Lee Hyla. (2012, revised 2015)
WATCH / LISTEN: Formalist Quartet, produced by WasteLAnd (May 2019)