Elliott Grabill

composer | educator

Tag: dark

Alarm

Alarm, for flute and live electronics, puts demands on both the flute and electro-acoustic performer, who uses a MIDI pad to perform notated rhythmic phrases in addition to standard processing.  The flute part alternates between high pitched, sparse pointillism leading to climactic long notes in the lower register.  I also explore the dynamics between a cappella flute sections, and purely electroacoustic sections.  The processing includes looping, granulation and doppler shift.

https://soundcloud.com/elliott-grabill/alarm-for-flute-and-electronics-live

Escape

for bassoon quartet (three bassoons, one contrabassoon)

Escape was written in December 2015 and January 2016.  It was the 2016 recipient of the Dark in the Song Prize, was performed by the Dark in the Song bassoon collective in July of 2016.  Publication of the work by TrevCo-Varner is expected in the near future.

 

Acousmatica

for stereo fixed media

 

Acousmatica is a dark, dystopic, post-apocalyptic leather romance with an element of danger.  This piece offers a journey in five short movements, weaving between dense machinery, urban waste, passion, and intimacy.

“Breathing” is a wall of rusty tone color that moves to the rhythm of deep breaths.  A more improvisatory “Spontaneity” then explores circular, undulating gesture.  After “Horizon” depicts a futuristic sunrise, “Trip” continues the gestural motion that “Spontaneity” began, this time with a more abrasive texture.  The piece ends with “I love you,” an electrically passionate conclusion transforming the tension built up in previous movements into sweeping melodic trajectories.

 

 

 

Katharos

for one or two pianos

This piano piece is composed of twelve sections, which could be played as specified in the score, or in an order of the performer’s choosing.   The piece may also be performed by two performers, each playing separate sections simultaneously, as seen in this video featuring Mila Roushakes and myself at the piano.

Katharos has six main themes spread out over twelve sections.  Thus, one could view the piece as grouped into six pairs of sections– the first of each pair exposing the listener to the theme, and a corresponding section occurring later in the piece to further develop the motive.  When performed with four hands, themes weave together and sometimes create new musical gestures when two parts overlap.  The result is a vast assortment of weird, abstract fragments, sometimes unresolved, sometimes overdone, and often combined to create a dreamlike state.

I originally named this piece “SAVE Room,” the place in New York City public schools where students serve in school suspension to “think about what they’ve done.”

 

The score of Katharos may be viewed here.

 

Kings Highway / Stillwell Ave, Brooklyn

for piano

I have composed several pieces “about” specific places, using sounds from these environments as a means to evoke the experiences, both aural and emotional, that one might have there.  In Kings Highway / Stillwell Ave.,  I string together a series of gestures to create a musical autobiography of my one year living in New York City.  I derived these gestures from sounds of the city and my apartment.  Since I didn’t have an audio recorder, I “painted” them onto paper and made them playable on the piano instead.  Like Van Gogh, who altered the realism of his paintings and added elements to express his own thoughts and feelings about his landscapes, my alteration from musique concrete to piano allowed me to stamp my own emotions onto my soundscape.

The audio comes from my introduction of an earlier version of the work to the audience.  In addition to adding the audio element, I worked with Vin Grabill created a film version of Kings Highway using photographs I took of New York– in addition to the footage of me performing the piece at the Church of the Holy City in Washington, DC.  The film was selected for the Rosebud Film Festival in 2012.

© 2018 Elliott Grabill

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