Passagework

for two pianists, two percussionists, and live electronics

Commissioned by Yarn/Wire with support of Meet the Composer, North River Music, Greenwich House Music School, New York, 2010. Recorded on: Yarn/Wire. Tone Builders Carrier Records, 2010.

Each epoch dreams the next

— Jules Michelet, cited by Walter Benjamin

Written for Yarn/Wire, Passagework brings together the group’s four performers to explore the space defined by the interiors of two pianos. Following Water Benjamin’s Passagen-Werk (The Arcades Project), field recordings made in the covered passageways of Paris are taken as source material for the work’s minute, rough, fragmentary soundscape.  Each passage recording is colored by architecture, time of day, accidental noises, and fellow visitors.  These tone colors are in turn transcribed, using computer models, into dense textures of instrumental playing techniques. As the performers act upon the pianos with mallets, small percussion instruments, contact microphones, and loudspeakers, the pianos themselves become passages leading from one imagined environment to the next.

[read more]