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Don’t Look Now

  • Don’t Look Now for String Quartet and Electronic Sounds was commissioned by the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, who gave the world premier at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City on April 28, 1991.  The piece has since received numerous performances, including at the International Computer Music Conference in Montreal and the SEAMUS Conference in Urbana, Illinois, both in 1991.  It was subsequently performed throughout Europe and South America by the Smith Quartet, who made this recording at the Electroacoustic Music and Recording Studios of the Royal College of Music in London.

    Composers have long been fascinated by the “special effects” obtainable on traditional instruments, but have tended to use them sparingly, in part because many of them are very soft and/or difficult to control and produce reliably.  In this piece, I have used the electronic medium to amplify and extend some of the effects which can be produced on stringed instruments, such as col legno battuto, tremolando sul ponticello, snap pizzicato, left hand pizzicato, harmonic glissandi, etc.  In most cases, the effects are introduced first in the acoustic ensemble, then developed further in the electronic part.  Because of this, and also because the sounds on the tape are almost exclusively derived from recordings of real stringed instruments, it should not always be apparent to the listener whether a sound is coming from the quartet or from the speakers, and hence the title, Don’t Look Now.

    Many of the sounds in the electronic part were originally recorded by the cellist, Barry Sills, of Austin, Texas.  I then digitally processed these sounds at The University of Texas Electronic Music Studios in a variety of ways, using MIT’s CSound, Mark Dolson’s Phase Vocoder, and some of my own software.  The sounds were then loaded to Ensoniq EPS and Kurzweil K2000 samplers for real-time performance.

  • Included on Centaur CDCM CD Volume 20, Music from the University of Texas Electronic Music Studios (CRC 2245)