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Adam Scott Neal
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1. If you could be an active composer in any other time period, when and why?
1950s - economic boom, teaching/composing jobs to be had, a great spirit of experimentation.
2. Dog, cat, or goldfish?
I love dogs, and even worked as a dog walker for 2 years.
Can't say why, but I'm thinking earwax.
4. You’re trapped on an island. . . What is the one pop song you will listen to for the rest of your life?
Beatles' "In My Life"
5. Who are 3 composers from the past -AND- 3 of your own generation whose music you respect, enjoy, inspires you, etc…
Past: Claude Debussy, Anton Webern, Morton Feldman
Presnt: Hong-Da Chin, Tristan Perich, Rob Seaback
Figures in Bas Relief (2008) for flute, clarinet, cello, percussion, piano
From the program notes:
“Figures in Bas-Relief combines the pitch approach of spectralism with indeterminate notation. All of the pitches for this work were derived from frequency analyses of gongs. Each of these sonorities is extended for some time, with each pitch shared by the ensemble, constantly changing the color of the chord. The ensemble's score allows for much rhythmic flexibility, which adds irregularity to the texture. The overall effect is a hazy impression of these sonorities, which are not fully formed.”
The delicate moments of this piece work really well for me. The louder moments seem too brash for the instrumentation. The delicate moments have this ocean, wave-like motion and the clarinet being barely audible in the mid range really give these moments a beautiful color.
The second movement (when the longer notes enter) is really beautiful. I wish the duration of the sections of silence was varied a little more. But, the harmonies and the general motion that is created through indeterminate notation is wonderful.
For me, the third movement strays too far from the sound world that has been created thus far. It is simultaneously too lyrical and too disjointed. I love the first two ideas. The third, leaves me wanting more of the first two and less of it.
555 (2013) for electronic toys
I really like this idea. I’ve had a desire recently to get more hands on with electronic sounds and not just rely on computers and microphones. There is also a part of me that wants to start getting into installation art with sound elements. There is something so attractive about the physical object. Certainly, Adam could have sampled all of these toys and mixed them together into a fixed media piece. But, there is something so much more poignant about seeing the performer interact with this technology that, if you are my age or older, you had as a child. It is certainly nostalgic.
That being said there is a lot of room to make this kind of cheesy. But, I don’t think this is at all. Actually, I think it works on a musical level divorced from the nostalgic element. However, I wasn’t really convinced until the piece got to the 2-minute mark. I wonder what this would be like for two performers instead of the one. After all, we only have two hands. And starting out in any way other than a slow build would be quite challenging to make it sound like anything other than turning everything on as quickly as possible.
Gesturally, the toys are not really capable of nuanced change. There is not much room to be subtle. I think the performer has to take this into consideration and let the toys guide them to a more active piece that changes quite a bit. This would be another reason to have at least two performers or perhaps two toys for each performer. Just a thought.