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Maggi Payne - HUM 2

Program Notes

When writing this multi-track work for trombone I could not help but to see the tie-ins to my work of 27 years prior, HUM.  That work is scored for one live flutist and six taped flute parts (although it could be performed live with seven performers) which should be diffused around the performance space. HUM 2  is scored for eight live trombones, although it can be performed by one trombone plus seven taped parts, and the players (or speakers) should also be diffused around the performance space.  The piece deals with expansion/contraction and involves spatial deployment of the eight performers or eight or four speakers.  Ideally one should not be able to distinguish the live performer from the taped parts when performed using the tape version.  The piece takes advantage of surround capability with sounds traveling around, through, and across the space (all built into scoring of the piece), with many instances of extended techniques and delicate pitch alterations (of 2-7 Hz).  If the listener is in a good listening position, the space should contract—to appear to come very close (as all eight trombones get very loud) and expand outward (as all eight trombones get very soft).  The expansion/contraction also takes place in the frequency domain as pitches converge and diverge and in the amplitude domain with an extreme dynamic range. This work is virtuosic. I composed the work for the trombonist, Abbie Conant, whose superb capabilities are explored in the work.

Additional notes regarding spatialization in this work:

All spatialization for HUM 2  is built into the scoring of the work. For instance, the beginning starts with trombone 8 (left front) playing a slow swell on a middle C. Half way through trombone 1 (center front) plays a slow swell on the same note while slowly rising in pitch from 2-7 Hz as trombone 8 fades. This slow natural panning continues clockwise around the space in a circle, all while the pitch slowly rises, producing slow beats between the players . There are symbols in the first three pages of the score which indicate the direction of travel, just to make sure that the setup is correct. Spatial pairings and various groupings occur throughout the piece, and on pages 11-12 events coordinate across the space to produce clear trajectories.

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