The Silence of Time (1993)

Duration – 16’35”

Why is it so difficult–so degradingly difficult–to bring the notion of Time into mental focus and keep it there for inspection? What an effort, what fumbling, what irritating fatigue! It is like rummaging with one hand in the glove compartment for the road map–fishing out Montenegro, the Dolomites, paper money, a telegram–everything except the stretch of chaotic country between Ardez and Somethingsoprano, in the dark, in the rain, while trying to take advantage of a red light in the coal black, with the wipers functioning metronomically, chronometrically: the blind finger of space poking and tearing the texture of time.
–From Ada by Vladimir Nabokov

The Silence of Time was composed for the University of Washington Percussion Ensemble during 1992-1993 and first performed by them in 1993. The computer-realized part was composed primarily at the studios of the University of Glasgow in Scotland while I was in residence there as a Leverhulme Fellow. It makes extensive use of what was in 1992 new computer software for audio time-stretching that I had just developed. During my stay in Scotland I visited the history laden, isolated, wind and water swept Wester Ross region of that country and I was struck by the land’s evocation of the silent and powerful force of Time. The piece reflects upon our intense and sometimes tempestuous relationship with the concept of Time. The music flows from order to chaos, from opacity to translucence, now marking time metronomically, now dissolving the sense of time’s measure.