Written for the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, spring 2013. Recorded by Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Lawrence University, May 30, 2013.
Orchestration: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets in Bb, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets in C*, 3 trombones*, 1 tuba, timpani, 4 percussion**, piano*, strings (16-14-10-10-8)
* prepared tinfoil
** (4 percussionists) automobile suspension spring (heavy steel), bell plates (G#3, A3, C#4, A#4, C5), “camel bells” (small, cylindrical, clappered bells), crotales, glockenspiel, high and low break drums, large bass drum, large diameter steel pipe, tambourine, timpani (left and right, antiphonal)*, tubular bell (G#4), vibraphone
Duration: approx. 5 minutes
Introduction to Myotis
Concert audiences might describe a piece of music as simple or virtuosic, consonant or dissonant, melodic or harmonic. These are all fine ways to describe music, but it’s interesting to me that people’s descriptions of sound are so different in other settings. Backpackers are more likely to describe the sound of a storm as ominous, the sound of a birdsong as beautiful or uplifting, rain on a roof is often described as peaceful, and recorded whale vocalizations are sometimes (counter intuitively) referred to as “otherworldly.”
Nonhuman sounds can be more dissonant and fragmentary than any human music. Nature produces sounds of far greater extremes of volume, both loud and soft, and of greater deration than the most minimalist of minimalist musics. Nature is the ultimate noise rock band. And yet, we describe nonhuman sounds in terms coached in emotional relevance rather than analysis.
In my recent compositions I have tried to draw on a naturalistic understanding of sound. This presents the composer, and the performer, with certain challenges. In nature, sound is not constrained by the rhythmic grid which classical music relies on. To understand natural sound, we need to think of sound as density or sparsity, as “texture” rather than harmony, and as process rather than form.
It is not easy for a composer to write music with these properties. Natural sounds are best understood with mathematical probability, and the human brain is not good at judging probability intuitively. To assist in composing the kinds of sounds I wish to hear, I have created several computer algorithms that take musical parameters as input from me and output a section of very rough, notated music.
In my composition, Myotis, nearly every note is the result of a carefully controlled computer algorithm. Through the first half of the composition you will hear a series of waves gradually building and cresting. In the second half of the piece, this material shatters and tumbles down in a cascade of bright, fluttering, fragments. In this second section, I sought to imitate the flocking or swarming motion of animals by moving musical fragments through the orchestra in self-organizing, spontaneous clusters of sound.
I would like to thank conductor Octavio Más-Arocas, my composition teachers Joanne Metcalf and Asha Srinivasan , and the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra for giving me this opportunity. Please enjoy my composition, Myotis.
— Daniel Miller, Lawrence University, spring 2013
[cart]For information on obtaining the score or parts for Myotis or performing the work, please use the inquiry form to contact me.[/cart]