the thunder said
2003, I was invited by members of the New
San Francisco Tape Music Center to compose a multichannel piece for a night
they were curating at the
San Francisco Electronic Music Festival 2003: east meets left.
response, I composed a sixteen-channel piece titled What
the Thunder Said, which premiered on Sunday, July 27, 2003.
was honored to have the opportunity to 'diffuse' a multichannel work at the festival
the Center specializes in presenting multichannel compositions through
carefully-positioned arrays of several dozen speaker; when work is 'diffused'
live, the composer or playback engineer uses the mixing board as an instrument
during playback, guiding specific sounds around the room on the fly.
An accomplished diffuser can thread multiple sounds simultaneously along their
own independent trajectories, much like a pianist gives each voice in a fugue
its own identity.
the other rooms
the other side
on top of the world
what the thunder said
san francisco sauvignon
would you, would you?
all my work, What the Thunder Said is based on one
of my stereo field recordings (in this case, on a single recording); I subdivided
the source recording in my studio into many frequency bands, which were distributed
spatially around the room. For the festival, I ended up diffusing eight channels,
the maximum supported by the system used at the time.
of the voices you hear emerging at the beginning of the piece was located in a
different part of the room; it was only when the unfiltered source recording emerges
several minutes in that a unified soundscape emerged to fill the room.
was particularly pleased to be able to route the thunder in this piece to speakers
mounted above the audience in the ceiling.
a ubiquitous multi-channel internet audio format, I'm providing only a two-channel
mix down here.
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what the thunder said||11
the Thunder Said reconstructs a ten-minute field recording I made in Chitiwan
National Park in the Terai of southern Nepal in 2001. The Terai is flat, hot,
dry jungle at the northern end of the Gangetic plateau; my wife and I walked it
on a several-day tour of the park, which is famous for its population of Bengal
tigers, rhinos, sloth bears, and birds.
The piece dissects ten minutes
I spent recording grumbling thunder over the forest. Primarily through selective
filtering and slight delays, I whittled away at my recording with the intention
of catching the moment as it was, of catching myself as I was: standing in a clearing,
late on a hot spring afternoon, hoping for a glimpse of something too elusive,
tuned to the complaints of the low silver sky and the pulsing insects all around.
de Waard recently wrote of my work, "Quiet American makes very long pieces, in
which not much happens." But I ask you to listen for ten minutes, the time I stood
silent to make the original recording.' (Original program notes, SFEMF 2003)
can hear an excerpt of the original source recording here.