Suite in 12 movements for flute(s), clarinet(s), violin, cello, piano and soundtrack [55′].

Commissioned by the Seattle Chamber Players with Tomoko Mukaiyama and funded by the Netherlands NFPK+.

Often the inspiration for one piece comes at the completion of another. The fact is that not all possibilities of a concept can be realized in one piece, they often become the starting point of something else. With satellites this was the case. A year before it I started work on it I wrote a piece for Veenfabriek's Siren Orchestra (an ensemble of sirens and noise machines modeled on the writings of Italian futurist Luigi Russolo and the theoretical writings of Helmholz). This piece was called bases and took the form of graphic scores of military air bases. I found satellite images from Google map and other IMINT sources and rendered them as sound. I was fascinated by the results, the idea that a landscape can create a musical narrative. I would often describe my music as creating a sonic spaces where one can wander through, so the idea of using a map of a physical space as direct analogy to a musical score was an interesting starting point.

With satellites I wanted to put the instrumentalists in metaphorical orbit across these landscapes. The idea was to trace movement with varying speeds through the soundscapes, as if they were floating through them. Often the material that the musicians play live is characterized by differing velocities, differing rates of change, as if moving in parallel orbits. The music is often characterized by a great deal of spaciousness and slow change, though not exclusively in slow tempos. Harmonies dissolve into one another and the instruments trace the contours of the sonic landscapes as if scanning the world below.

The form of the suite in 12 parts is divided into six tuttis, five solos, and one soundtrack only movement.

  1. ACC
  2. USGC (violin)
  3. MWIRP
  4. NSI (bass clarinet)
  5. EDW
  6. TEPS (piano)
  7. NWSA (soundtrack)
  8. LLNL
  9. MAA (cello)
  10. SBNWS
  11. NRTF (flute)
  12. KUMSK

The music can be ordered from Donemus Publishing House, Amsterdam.


performance history

  • Feb 27th 2010; Seattle Chamber PLayers, Icebreaker Festival, Seattle.
  • Feb 17th 2011; musikFabrik, Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam.