A computer and sound system is required for performance of this piece. The violin and piano players may or may not be amplified. If there is no amplification, the speakers playing the pre-recorded audio should be on stage somewhat behind the performers and several feet above the stage floor.
If a sound system is used where the speakers are at the front of the stage or above the stage, the instruments must be amplified and the players will require an additional monitor. The audio playback is available from the publisher along with the performance materials, along with a rehearsal-only click track.
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Colin Jacobsen, violin / Bruce Levingston, piano
Interest in the properties of resonance clearly extends as far back in time as music history itself. One of the earliest mentions that caught my attention is the Roman architect Vitruvius's plan for a theater that would have brass vases spread around the theater so that the sounds coming from the stage would resonate throughout the space. This interest in what happens to a note once the player has finished playing it, has been revisited again and again from Vitruvius until the present day. From chant performed in cavernous cathedrals to the invention of the piano with a sustain pedal, from the inventive coloristic pedaling of Debussy's piano music to Berio's trumpet Sequanza (where the trumpet points it bell into an open piano lid), to much of the electro-acoustic music out of IRCAM, to many of the most used, or even overused, 20th century orchestration techniques (imagine the sharp ping of a harp harmonic with the "resonance" of the note taken over by muted violins), it's clear that there's a basic allure in what happens as musical sounds spread out in space towards our receptive ears.
Digital Mist once again revisits resonance. Here, with an electronics part that, for the most part, resonates with what the violin and piano play. At times, though, it's also the other way around: the violin and piano take up a pitch first heard in the electronics part. There's a great deal of electronic and electro-acoustic music that deals with resonance. My impetus is actually more old-fashioned and takes off from piano pedaling techniques. I'm sure many listeners know the much talked about pedal indications in the first movement of Beethoven's Tempest sonata. Beethoven asks for the pianist to hold down the pedal for an extended recitative-like single line. The result is that the melodic notes all continue to sound and as more add together the result isn't just the prolongation of the note just heard, but a pleasing haze that forms around all the entire passage. It's more this haze than a literal staging of resonance that interests me in Digital Mist: the violin and piano are surrounded not in space, but in time, by an ethereal mist of ones and zeros that at times build up to partially obscure them, then to withdraw, returning the duo to prominence.
The piece was commissioned by the Library of Congress and Premiere Commissions.
"...the interplay of the digital and the acoustic was delicate and subtle, each echoing the other in turn but the digital always hovering above the sounds of the acoustic instruments. When the instruments copied the digital lines, they did so with astonishing veracity."
- Joan Reinthaler, The Washington Post