Shadows of the Electric Moon
For snare drum and sound exciter
Performed by Bill Solomon
In Shadows…, the timbral palate of the snare drum is altered in a number of ways. For the duration of the piece the drum is upside down, with the snare exposed. A medium cymbal and a single crotale are brought into contact both with the drumhead and this exposed snare. In addition a sound exciter rests on the snare for the much of the piece. This exciter receives an audio signal from a computer, and attempts to reproduce that signal by vibrating the snare at the frequencies it receives. The success of this endeavor is, of course, inherently limited.
The piece is essentially cyclical, with the first cycle revealing the theme. The sound types emphasized in this theme tend to be abrupt and mechanical, with rapid shifts in playing technique. Subsequent cycles introduce increasingly long and static interruptions to this material, becoming ever more obsessivly transfixed. Further variations on the theme are introduced in later cycles as the material types begin to shuffle.
This piece, as are many of my recent pieces, is based on a novel by the Norwegian author Pedr Solis. Den Elektriske Månen (The Electric Moon) is one of his earlier novels, written well before his better-known work Stillaset. It takes place in the northern reaches of Finnmark, the northernmost county of Norway. The writing is lyrical and dreamlike, with similar but slightly varied passages of text often recurring.
Shadows of the Electric Moon was commissioned by Patti Cudd.