Friday, October 29, 2010

Mare Serenitatis at UF's Baughman Center

Last night some of my colleagues (Sean Peuquet, Thomas Royal, and Jorge Variego) put on a concert at UF's Baughman Meditation Center. It is a beautiful building right on Lake Alice. They invited the other composers to compose pieces for the space, which is very interesting acoustically. It is very reverberant and has fairly pronounced standing waves at certain frequencies.

I adapted an old piece, Mare Serenitatis. I wrote this piece in 2008 for submission to Concordia University's Harvest Moon festival. One of the festival's categories was "Pianissimo Highs," which stipulated quiet pieces that never fall below 2kHz. I created this piece by using part of the Max/MSP interface for Baffin Bay, improvising with high frequencies in 8 channels. Pretty simple but I think it sounds neat. Listen here.

The Baughman center has resonances at 26.8 Hz and its multiples. For this version, I decided to play two tones at a time, targeting frequencies that would create difference tones that matched the resonances of the space. I made a little filtered pulse with delay to articulate the same frequency.

What I played was essentially an improv, though I did have a rough plan in mind. Since 26.8 Hz is close to a very low A (27.5 Hz), I thought of things that way. I started both of my pulsating sine notes (actually 4 pulsating sines for each note) on high (detuned) A's. I started moving one down little by little, down to a D, playing the delayed pulse on occasion. Then I started moving both of the notes down until I had roughly an E6 and an A5, which made a difference tone of ~A4. I played that pulse a few times and faded everything out.

I wasn't paying too much attention to time but I didn't want it to last too long (though it's fun for me to listen and play - I could have gone on for half an hour). I'm guessing it was about 3-4 minutes. No recording this time but hopefully I'll have a chance to adapt it to another venue sometime!

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