The TANK Center for Sonic Arts in Western Colorado is a truly magical place. This large water tank, located in Granby, has been converted to an acoustic space with a reverb of over 20 seconds, which is more than heard in the Taj Mahal. My visit was a transformational experience; it made me reconsider the nature of music and start listening the beautiful intricacies within sound itself. Shortly after my visit, I wrote a piece for solo clarinet and improvised live electronics which was an attempt to capture the feeling of this space. In the piece, the clarinet arpeggiates between extremes that fall within the harmonic spectrum inherent to the instrument itself.
The piece can be heard on two levels. In the first, you can hear the performer frantically navigating the technically demanding runs. In the second, a large spacious reverb muddies these individual notes into a sonic cloud that manifests and evolves at a much slower pace.
Mariana Trench is the deepest part of the ocean known to man. This work explores the increasingly alien world starting from the surface and working down to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, at almost seven miles below sea level.
Well before Edward Snowden’s revelations, the National Security Agency (NSA) sent an agent of propaganda to my engineering school to proselytize the idea of a dire need for the government to be able to decrypt private communications; doing so would help our nation’s ability to fight crime and increase security. After all, only criminals and terrorists would use encryption. The average citizen with nothing to hide should have nothing to fear. Half a lifetime later, and this visit still haunts my thoughts.
This piece delves into the ideas of surveillance by the state versus free will and rights of its citizens. Public domain recordings of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are used along with texts from FBI Director James Comey, Chief of Detectives for the Chicago Police Department John J. Escalante, and Adolf Hitler. These public statements advocating the need for surveillance are contrasted by the live saxophone performance, which is very open and improvised. The live electronics listen to the saxophone and respond. As the piece
progresses, the originally obfuscated ideas are “decrypted,” becoming clearer.
Note that as part of the audience, you are being recorded, and anything you say may become part of the performance.