SHADES OF DASHES

(For piano, saxophone, and electronics)
© 2000, Steve Mobia

The anagram title suggests rearrangements. I also think of "violent ghosts" with the word "shade" (disembodied spirit) and the explosive word "dash" (to strike violently). This is also my first attempt at incorporating live acoustic instruments with electronic sounds. Live acoustic instruments can have a familiar presence as living protagonists while the electronics suggest the unconscious because the tone producers are unseen and can constantly change. There is a melancholy opening (surrounded by a upper pedal tone D) which delves deeper into the 'underworld' where swarms of unidentified creatures dwell. In this section, nodes are touched on the piano strings and the strings are brushed while holding chord keys down. Out of the morass, the two characters (piano and saxophone) are brought to life in propulsive momentum. Suddenly a sharp chord releases new sounds that threaten to engulf the protagonists. A wild motor like 'rubber world' vehicle emerges to race through tight avenues. To get these sounds a heavy blanket is placed in the grand piano to muffle any sustained note -- so all you hear are the attacks. The sax here plays "slap tongue" to create a sputtering rhythm. There is much exchange here between the acoustic world and the electronic; -- here the live players can't be even be slightly off without throwing the momentum into turmoil. A chugging series of chords cut short unleash the falling demons of before, crying out as if in torment. But surprisingly the storm clears and we hear the only complete version of the theme played simply as a single line piano melody. The sax then elaborates against a low pedal G played by pulling a bicycle inner tube past the string (it's essentially the opposite effect as the middle part, this time there is no attack, only sustain). The electronic background is a shimmering cloud of filtered harmonics. Performed by Keisuke Nakagoshi (piano), Nik Phelps (baritone saxophone), Steve Mobia (electronics)

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