the deformation of figures

forces: performed by tim feeney (solo bass drum and electronics)
score: forthcoming

commissioned by the University of Alabama Department of Music for percussionist Tim Feeney.

The work explores the embodied experience resulting from the interaction between the performer and the responsive feedback provided by the membrane of the drum head. Considering the bass drum as an architectural space, the work explores the acoustics of the interior of the drum, the nodes and anti-nodes of the drum head, and the resonances of the instrument as a whole.

Using custom hardware devices capable of actuating the resonant response of the instrument as well as measuring the activities of the performer (both gesturally and acoustically), the work creates a delicate dialog between the sensuous touch of the human hand and a heightened tactile response of the instrument. Rather than emphasize the technological or the purely sonic, the electronics create an amplified electronic extension of the natural response of the instrument to actions of the performer.

In this new work, the actuator creates an environment, or instrumental “weather,” with which Feeney interacts. The actuator generates sound, alters the spectral characteristics of the resonance from the membrane, dampens the head at specific locations, and alters the pressure within the shell of the drum. These factors encourage or inhibit Feeney’s techniques of sound production, resulting in the emergent behavior of an unpredictable sonic landscape.

Excerpts of the piece were presented at the 2014 Percussive Arts Society International Convention, in Indianapolis, IN, and at the Church of the Advent in Boston, MA. The full 60-minute premiere was staged at the Icebox Project Space at the Crane Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA, on March 7, 2015.