Herald of Water, Herald of Air

Posted 26 February 2009, 06:15


Two versions of a tantric fanfare. Dedicated to La Monte Young and Lois V Vierk.

Duration: 16:03 each version, or 32:06 total

Background & Technical Details

A single chord, eleven notes, built up slowly from low to high. Each voice has a regular pulse that starts almost completely still and accelerates to a speed proportional to its pitch — the higher the note, the faster the pulse. From the peak, everything decelerates together, back to near stasis.

The pulses are shaped, dynamically and timbrally, by a random process, a different sequence for each voice. The “Water” version has smooth transitions from one pulse to the next, producing an undulating texture. The “Air” version has abrupt transitions, resulting in a percussive/plucked/struck attack. This is the only difference between the two versions of the piece, except for the random aspect (which makes every rendering or performance somewhat unique). In character, I think “Water” is more ambient and “Air” is more ecstatic.

This chord is built by combining two of La Monte Young’s chords1, the Opening Chord and the Magic Chord. These are the pitches, expressed as multipliers of the unheard base pitch of 60Hz:

2, 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5, 5.0625, 5.25, 6.75, 10.125, 12, 13.5

The instrument design is derived from Atte AndrĂ© Jensen’s ResonantRhythm, which I tweaked quite a bit for my own purposes, quite different from Atte’s original intention. I’m grateful to Atte for all his work on this and a number of other useful instrument and effect designs for Csound/blue.

Of course, I am deeply indebted to La Monte Young for the Opening Chord and the Magic Chord, as well for his (and Michael Harrison’s) “cloud” technique, which inspired the texture of this piece.

I am also in debt to to Lois V Vierk, in particular her use of logarithmic curves as a key structural element. I was fortunate to have worked with Lois for a while as a player (I participated in the premiere live and recorded performances of her pieces Go Guitars and Red Shift), and being “inside” her music was a profound experience that has had a deep effect on me as a composer. The accelerations and decelerations in this piece are linear rather than logarithmic, but they nonetheless are informed by Lois’ example.

1 Kyle Gann, “The Outer Edge of Consonance,” in William Duckworth and Richard Fleming (editors), Sound and Light, La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1996), page 174.


MP3 – Herald of Water (37MB, 320kpbs)
MP3 – Herald of Air (37MB, 320kpbs)
blue project and Csound orchestra/score (6KB)

Copyright 2009 by Dave Seidel, some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Herald of Water, Herald of Air by Dave Seidel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.


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