Sotto/Sopra (1999)

Duration – 14’34”
Recording – Eric Rynes, violin

Sotto/Sopra explores the genre of the musical solo using the computer to extend the performer and the instrument. It is a work not so much for violin as for violinist. The merging of person and instrument interests me greatly. Each player is one manifestation of the current state of a continuing history of their instrument. The history is physical, existing as a kind of “body knowledge” which I believe is real and substantive.

The computer part results from the processing of live input of the amplified violin in real-time by programs I created in the SuperCollider language on a Macintosh computer. Since the computer part is “in-sync” with the violin (in the sense that the two are always directly related; they are not necessarily always exactly time-synchronous), the effect is that of a violin with an extended range and with the possibility of sounding many notes and different sound colors at the same time. Stylistically the piece is both dramatic and distant, accessible and oblique. The materials are often declamatory and direct—the very beginning is an example of this—but their development is restricted. The small-scale gestures are rather simple, but they are deployed—especially during the first half—as if they were the scattered pieces of different jigsaw puzzles. Only over time do they resolve through memory into an image. Eventually there are three extended periods of music each based on one of the puzzle pieces, but these too are non-developmental, standing as longer statements of a single idea.