Syntax of Snow

for glockenspiel and amplified snow (2011)
or for 2, or 4 glockenspiel and amplified snow
duration is 7-10′ (depending on  tempo performed)

Syntax of Snow was written on the occasion of my book chapter, Syntax of Snow: Ecoacoustics of a Changing Arctic published in “North 2020” (University of Alaska Press), and for Trevor Saint’s landmark solo glockenspiel recital. The piece was written for an extended-range glockenspiel, C3-E6 and a large container of amplified snow. The performer plays the bells with mallets in one hand and the snow with the other hand, gloved. The two sound sources are treated as one instrument with each note corresponding to a movement in the snow. In this way the notation extends the syntactical musical structure to the snow itself. The piece uses a drifting approach in which the pitches from each cycle of the harmonic process persist in the present, and they are shaped by the new input.

For people and animals in the north, the sound of snow can tell them the year, month, day and time of day. It can tell about the present and past weather conditions. It can tell them where they are and where other things are in relation to them. It can tell about the contours of the landscape, the plants and the wildlife in the area. It can even tell about the history and the status of those animals and plants, and the condition of oneself in the environment. A well-trained listener can tell all this just from the sound of snow.

Syntax of Snow was commissioned by Trevor Saint

score excerpt

Syntax of Snow score
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