mixed media composition for trombone, percussion and tape, 9’14”
The structure of Spit Tube Landscape is as follows:
fanfare, 0 – 0′ 33”
part one: scope, 0′ 34” – 2′ 32”
interlude, 2′ 33” – 3′ 13”
part two: scape, 3′ 14” – 7′ 57”
coda, 7′ 58” – 9′ 14”
Spit Tube Landscape features Hilary Jeffery, trombone and Gustavo Aguilar, snare drum, bells and cymbals, flexitone, bowed styrofoam, cork, water. Other sound sources were Blippoo box analogue synthesizer, Ekdahl Moisturizer Spring Reverb, Clavia Nord Modular synthesizer and heavily transformed tuba. Processing and transformations of the trombone and percussion recordings were executed exclusively using Catart (Max MSP) controlled with Buchla Lightning and Faderfox interfaces. I also made some recordings of bluebottles which I integrated those into the piece at a couple of points and a modified STEIM cracklebox functioning as a radio receiver.
Interests and Objectives
The trombone is an interesting combination of enormous tonal range and simplicity. While it is capable of almost pure sine-waves and its phrasing is as natural as breathing, it calls to mind something between; something human-becoming-animal, perhaps a mysteriously refined creature living in a dark and wet cave. It is these aspects of darkness, breath, moisture and portmanteau I wanted to explore in the piece. Following the metaphors of animals, roaming and habitat I let the sounds suggest their own form and shapes and so I have tried to build something like a fantasia – an improvisatory, unfolding linear form. I was also interested in the call and response elements between solo and section, between synthesizer and trombone and also between the between the trombone and the habitat it creates.
This specific process of composition shares something with conventional oil painting techniques, where the surface is made of multiple laminated layers but the artist can never see the whole, each layer obscures the last and at each stage of composition can only respond to the most recent layer. The initial charcoal drawing which is this case was an Audio Graphic Score having served its function is completely eliminated – yet it remains the fundamental structural aspect forming the piece. There is a surrealistic drawing game called exquisite corpses that takes such an idea ever further.
I am greatly indebted to Hilary Jeffery and Gustavo Aguilar for their wholehearted and inspiring contributions to the piece.