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Fergal Dowling - rise

Program Notes

rise began as a project to simulate fireworks; not elaborate, synchronised, public, displays but rather the spontaneous, asynchronous 'happenings' that occur at festivals-such as New Year's Eve or All Souls Day-when many people ignite multifarious devices from many locations and at random times. The piece is constructed around a model of firework-like behaviours and a model of a generalised space. We eventually hear three voices or classes of fireworks which, although noise-based throughout, conform to musical behaviours, weaving through one another as they go, moving to the foreground now, receding to the distance next.

Throughout the compositional process I kept in mind the story of the Afghani fighters who use consumer cassette tape recorders to record the sound of their own battles (artillery, gunfire, whatever) in order to regale themselves later in the long silences that fall between fighting. The only sound sources used here are water sounds and were gathered somewhat more safely from various fountains in Paris and Darmstadt .

Technical note:

rise was rendered using ambisonic techniques. The periphonic area is carpeted with seemingly discrete points of sound. This technique allows the listener to hear 'through' the sound-field, as it were, thus overcoming the problems associated with proximity effects and the problem of virtual sound sources 'sticking' to one loudspeaker or another.

The form of the piece is described in a Common Music algorithm and rendered using Csound. The Csound orchestra provides a very generalised definition of a generic acoustic space which is animated, with these points of noise.


Fergal Dowling is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in composition at York University . He is a graduate of Trinity College , Dublin , where he completed a M.Litt. in composition in 2002.

He has received awards from the Arts Council of Ireland to attend both the 40th Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Darmstadt (2000) and the Académie d'été, IRCAM (2001), in 2002 he was awarded the Elizabeth Maconchy Composition Fellowship.

He is a member of A.I.C. (Association of Irish Composers) and is represented by the CMC (Contemporary Music Centre, Dublin ).

His catalogue includes a wide variety of forms: orchestral and choral music, and music for video and rock band. His most recent works combine acoustic and electronic techniques with real-time interaction and multichannel sound spatialisation. His compositions have been performed and broadcast in Ireland , England , Germany , the USA and Brazil .

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