Points of Light in Shadow (Program Notes)

for ‘cello and sound exciters performed by Stephen Marotto

This piece calls for two sound exciters to be strapped to the cello. These small devices are similar to speakers but only vibrate the surface upon which they rest. A cello makes for a lousy speaker, but the hybrid nature of the sounds can lead to some interesting combinations.

The audio sent through these sound exciters was generated by Orchidea, software designed for computer-assisted orchestration. When fed a target sound and a list of instruments, Orchidea combines samples of those instruments to create an emulation of the target sound. In my case, the target sounds were drawn from bass clarinet and bassoon multiphonic recordings. It’s a bit of a tangled path, but to summarize: multiphonic recording -> Orchidea orchestration -> audio exciter -> cello. Simple!

The title of the piece comes from the novel Stillaset by the Norwegian author Pedr Solis. Many of my pieces have drawn inspiration from Solis’ writings, but this isn’t one of them.

Points of Light was composed for and with Stephen Marotto, and is dedicated to him.