the world feels pressure

3 voices, bass clarinet + live electronics [12′].

Written for Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart.

A world feeling pressure flows.
Not the whole world flows,
but the part the pressure works on.
That part flows from here to there
while the rest of the world is watching motionlessly.

Dick Raaijmakers, De Methode, translated by Vincent WJ van Gervan Oei

The text for this piece comes from Dick Raaijmakers' The Method (1985), a theoretical work where he sets out to describe the world from an hyper-objective point of view. Yet the highly abstracted descriptions have a certain poignancy and emotive power, because the target of enquiry somehow remains obscured. In this musical setting, a system is created whereby, the pitches of the singers are processed through the commercial voice-altering software 'autotune'; an automated harmonization of the voices, where pitches are forced into a pre-composed musical system. The bass clarinet which is also patched to go through the singers' autotune algorithm distorts the harmony as the algorithm can sometimes not detect which pitch to retune. Additionally there is a physically modeled sound heard throughout the piece, which comes under constant modulation from the pitch and amplitude of the singers, which in turn affects the timbre of the bass clarinet that we hear.  In this way a semi-closed system is created whereby the musician's sound is always coming under pressure from the sound mediated by the computer.

performance history

  • 11 October 2012; Premiere by Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart and Gareth Davis, Venice Music Biennale .