behind the light
for string quartet and electronics year: 2011 duration: 15:00 min studio: Harvard University dedicated to my father
first performance: November 16, 2011
by Chiara Quartet , Sanders Theatre, Cambridge MA
behind the light is a reflection on reflections. What surfaces are capable of reflecting incoming light? How does this alter color and how do the qualities of the reflections change the visual atmosphere? behind the light is an exploration of the relationship between source and multiplication. I reimagined the flickering quality of sunlight on a river, the neutral atmosphere of light tubes in a hallway, or the moving shadows created by a burning candle in the musical world. They inspired relationships between sonic characters and the explorations of the string quartet and electronics. I’m interested in concepts of verticality and horizontality: the ensemble and the electronics often develop their own wanderings for short periods of time, but then are resynchronized by strong vertical events. The electronics were composed using prior recorded and manipulated string quartet sequences.
first performance with the Chiara Quartet
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This composition uses an iPad to play back the prepared sounds.
The iPad should be positioned on an extra music stand, next to the first violin. Its mini jack output is connected to two small, high-quality loudspeakers, placed on the floor in front of the quartet. Depending on the hall acoustics, these speakers should be angled slightly outwards to enhance the stereo image. There is no need for microphones nor additional loudspeakers in the concert hall. The first violinist triggers the electronic sequences with an Airturn pedal, without the need of a technician or assistant.
The speakers on the floor should be angled by approximately 45 degrees so that the sound is not pointed directly to the audience but rather first bounces off reflective surfaces in the hall and therefore mixes more naturally with the sound of the string quartet. It should not give the impression that the sounds are coming straight out of the speakers and a hight degree of sonic fusion with the live quartet should be obtained.
In smaller venues, these Fostex 6301B Monitors have been proven to be a good solution.
The mini-jack output of the iPhone is connected to the Fostex monitors with a cable TRS 1/8 inch – TRS 1/4 inch.