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"the silence that reigns...."

  • Author(s): Frasch, Heather
  • Advisor(s): Bedrossian, Franck
  • et al.


"the silence that reigns..." for large ensemble


Heather Frasch

Doctor of Philosophy in Music and Designated Emphasis in New Media

University of California, Berkeley

Professor Franck Bedrossian, Chair

A large chamber ensemble is scattered around the stage into five distinctive groups. This idiosyncratic positioning provides the foundation for novel sonic structures, placing the listener inside them at various angles and perspectives. These structures are built from different materials: metal, glass, ceramic and unusual amalgamations. They are large and luminous, deep with intricate patterns along their walls. Their architecture is too fragile and volatile to exist in a physical world; their angles and proportions too askew. These singular spaces can only be held together in a sonic realm.

Throughout the piece, the chamber ensemble shifts its focus to different aspects of complex sounds. For example, when a chopstick is scraped against the tamtam, one hears the resonant metallic vibrations, but also the quiet and gritty scraping of wood against metal. The ensemble zooms in to emphasize the resonance one moment, while articulating the scrape later on.

The large scale and slow tempo give room for the listener to wander inside the sound, to hear its intricate details. It allows unpredictable and fragile sounds to breathe, and their volatile and erratic quality lends richness and depth to the sound. Yet, throughout the piece, there is a constant extracting of energy inside the seemingly stagnant worlds; zooming in, once again, to extract micro-movements. Nothing is ever still, there is always change and motion, even in the quietest and most seemingly silent space.

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