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Concerto For Sine Wave and Orchestra

Mvt. 4 (A Life: Years 37-48)

Concerto for Sine Wave and Orchestra Mvt 4 231211
00:00 / 05:10

Movement 4 of Concerto For Sine Wave and Orchestra is the first recording from Antenati Workshop, a studio project created as a destination for my antenati compositions. It was recorded over 11 days in November 2023 at the Honey Jar in Brooklyn and features John Altiere, Alex Asher, Leah Asher, Meaghan Burke, David Cossin, Amy Garapic, Isabel Lepanto Gleicher, Rebekah Heller, Mike Irwin, Katie Scheele, Pat Swaboda, Emmalie Tello and Jeremy Thal.

The artwork is Physical Math 901663 (Vectrex, LZX and A-100), 2021

The idea for this piece came to me when a friend sent me a link to Ruth Anderson’s Resolutions. In it, a square wave descends over the course of 17 minutes and I loved the effect of slow modulation on my conscious state. I thought to use a sine wave—which would blend well with acoustic instruments—and try to harmonically capture the consonant parts of the oscillation while atonally framing the dissonant parts in such a way as to tell some kind of musical story. 


It occurred to me to start the descent at C8 and cover the range of the piano and soon I was imagining this tiny flux of gradually slowing energy as representing the course of a human life span. A numerical schemata formed. Each note would represent a year. The place where the sine wave crosses orchestral pitch would represent the apogee of the sun’s arc and the quarter-tones, its nadir. In this manner, we follow the course of a person’s existence as they oscillate between the solstices, going in and out of resonance with their material surroundings.


Just as human meaning must be constantly remade in order to accommodate the continuous flow of matter and energy, so, the traditionally tuned orchestra evolves around this inexorable flux. Striving to interpret. Striving to make it still and meaningfully frame it.


The entire work is divided into 8 movements, one for each octave. Movement 4 (years 37 - 48) describes the peak achievements, crushing losses and existential ennui of mid-life, culminating in a glimpse of the peace and quiet that will come to characterize later movements.

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