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PHASER (2017)

Instrumentation: three percussionists

This was my response to a requirement to write a piece using tempo modulation. I used a kind of ‘chain’ or ‘stack’ of tempo modulations to change the audible tempo of the motif heard at the outset by increments. For the purposes of the piece, I felt it was necessary for the process to be very clearly audible, and the use of a motif I believed would help me achieve this. I wasn’t necessarily wrong, but the realisation of my goal would have been dependent on instrumentation, since if heard on three snare drums, for example, the rhythm when subject to the processes that take place in the piece simply becomes a different rhythm.

This example isn't hypothetical. The piece was performed by extremely accomplished percussionist Luis Tabuenca on three snare drums (I believed I had written something that was very difficult to play and laboured over designing the score in a way that would cushion this fact as much as possible, only for Mr. Tabuenca to play all three parts simultaneously at sight), and though it did make for a decent experience as the motif kept re-emerging, the process wasn’t really audible at all. The subsequent feedback provided to me by the performer did give me much to think about, though, and the tempo modulation technique I grasped here made later pieces like MONO possible.

The piece was recorded professionally by my tutor who had a piece performed during the same session. He said he would mix the recording and send it to me, but then he simply didn’t. I never forget, Panos!


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