The visual imagery is very important to the success of our “Concert of the Future” premiere in April with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Developing an overall form with Nathan Selikoff, my visual design artist, would therefore be crucial. During our second meeting, Nathan Selikoff and I came up with a plan for this work for Orchestra and Electronics.
We began with my ideas that the work should be:
a simple gesture about growth: no time for anything more complicated
Something organic in growth
Something exciting, that would show off the orchestra
Electronic music that would expand a feeling of spaciousness around the orchestra, employing the large scale 5.1 surround capability of the venue
A work that would be largely accessible, but still create a strong artistic statement
Nathan quickly responded to my ideas with the concept of dimensional growth. This form provided a clear structure, which was appealing to us both. Nathan brought the document (scanned and pictured below) to our second meeting – it has become our ‘blueprint’.
There are 5 sections, one for each dimension 1 through 4; starting from a single point.
We could call this Five Dimensions? To the left, you can see Nathan’s concepts for his visuals for each, along with a line describing it. The bottom “in-between (fractal) dimensions” may be how he chooses to make transitions from one dimension to the next.
The huge display in the Venue is a digital outdoor billboard and does not have high resolution. There are 3 other screens available for video, as well as several large flat screens that can be spaced around the audience.
Mark Fischer, the General Manager of the OPO (and their principal horn player) has just let me know the forces that this piece will utilize! It is a medium sized orchestra consisting of 46 players:
1 EWI Electronic Wind Instrument
4 french horns
6 first violins
5 second violins
The music plan: about 5 minutes in duration
I have decided to start this piece off with a big, fortissimo chord with the winds followed by the full orchestra playing very loudly – not to signify the big bang, but just to let the crowd know that the music has begun.
This is a transitional section, musically, heard after the loud introduction dissipates into millions of points – from long notes to tiny durations. This will be done both by the orchestra and by electronics. I will likely use the granular synthesis approach in MetaSynth; along with light, pointillistic stylings in the orchestra. Some of these tiny points will begin to repeat and join up to develop a short, primary motive which will replicate into short line fragments, leading to Dimension 1. Here I want to give the sense of great speed, of moving forward. Beginning with a breathe in – out rhythm – the music will gain speed and intensity; though never becoming loud. Woodwinds and the EWI will play important roles in this section.
Now at a high speed, the strings and brass will join – exploring blocks of harmony and texture, connected by the line. The line, embedded in the harmony, will disappear. Brass and Strings will then reach a climax – the next plateau
The surround sound electronics and low frequencies will add new depth to a slow/static music. The EWI, played by Brian Smithers, will weave a (written) solo here amidst beautiful colors. This dimension will be our repose before the final climax. Some of the imagery here will include those that remind us of the Earth.
As the images fold into hyperspace, so will the full forces music bend, twist, unravel and rebuild. The end of the work will be loud and bright – restating the short primary motive.