No 68 Shimmer (2021-22)

For large ensemble & sine pulses

Commissioned by: Asko|Schönberg Ensemble, with financial support from the Netherlands Fund for the Performing Arts
First Performance: November 20 2022, Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Amsterdam
Instrumentation: Contrabass Flute, Bassoon, Bass Clarinet, Horn, Tenor Trombone, Tuba, Accordion, Piano, Bass Marimba, Violin, Viola, Cello 1, Cello 2 (or bowed harp), Double Bass and sine pulses.
Duration: 20’
Special Features: performance requires amplification

Score samples

Info/Program note:
Shimmer (2022) is written for a curiously low setup which was the result of the Covid period where certain instruments were used significantly less than others. Never rising above middle C it is certainly not the lowest piece I have ever written but does employ the largest number of low instruments. The entire work is built around the (heavy) sound of five low strings playing only open Fifths, with each player making one up- and down-bow per bar divided over four possible rhythmic points. To these open Fifths, doubled over two octaves, three other fifths in the chain are then gradually added until a melody eventually unfolds. Underneath the work lies a variant of a rhythmic matrix I used earlier in works such as Mono, Watts and Alternatim in which the beat continually but imperceptibly shoves up by minute degrees. The form of Shimmer can perhaps be loosely compared to the famous Cantor Set, in which a ternary form is continually subdivided into smaller divisions with fixed components occurring at predictable moments. Where Cantor plays with the paradox that a length can be both finite as well as infinite (length = 0 but limit tends to 0) Shimmer however is certainly finite and returns to its starting point after 18 sentences. The work is accompanied by an electronic patch consisting of a six-part chord of sine-pulses. The title was suggested by these six pulses as they interfere with one another and the in- and exhaling effect that seems to go along with that.