Moon Crossings is for large ensemble (15 instruments), electronic sounds, and two channels of video. It represents the third collaboration between myself and filmmaker Alfred Guzzetti (also see SONA and Breaking Earth).  The title comes from two moments in the piece when a moon crosses the two video screens that flank the stage.  The piece is divided into three scenes separated by brief pauses.  One of the organizing ideas behind the formal design of the work is to populate each of the three scenes with static sound ‘objects’ which are placed into effective sequences.

The rhythms in the work are derived from recordings of falling rain and the harmonies are extracted from the opening ‘klang’ of the triangle.  Computer-based analysis, for event detection and spectral content, was used to collect the source data.  These two types of data were correlated and adapted to produce individual instrumental parts using generative and sorting algorithms that could be modified with live input from control surfaces as I worked.  After some editing and tweaking by ear, the final data streams were sent into a computer notation program where they were edited for a last time.

The rain rhythms used in this work are performed in “soft focus” meaning that performers are free to interpret the rhythms within two-second measured durations.  It is desired that the performers will take the very broad dynamic indications, the tempo expressions, and the relative placement of rhythmic events to create their own parts.  In this sense, the music is semi-improvisational. The rests in the measures have been eliminated to encourage rhythmic freedom and experimentation.  The performer does not have to invent the notes or relative rhythmic relations between notes, but can feel free to invent the expressive aspects of the part within the limitations provided.

More than half of the music is accompanied by video images projected on two large screens.  These images loosely derive from some of the same natural sources as the music and reflect its rhythms, spatial dispositions, and layering.  The projection surfaces are conceived as additional voices in the ensemble.  A contrapuntal structure was designed to bring them into changing relationships with subsets of the performing ensemble.

Moon Crossings was commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation. It was developed during a 2010 residency at Marion Boulton Stroud’s Acadia Summer Art Program and premiered in Houston, TX on April 16, 2011.

Moon Crossings

for 15 performers, video, and electronics (2011), ca .17’

Scores available from Trigon Music Press