Elliott Grabill

composer | songwriter | teacher

Tag: playful

Mountain Piques

Mountain Piques was written for the Pique Collective, a Baltimore-based new music ensemble.  Split into four movements, this work uses electronics to create four nature-inspired scenes.  It was performed in October 2018 at the Black Cherry Puppet Theatre, who created and choreographed visuals to accompany the piece.

This piece uses SuperCollider to produce the electronic part.  A member of the quartet operates a laptop which activates prerecorded audio samples.  They use their laptop keyboard trackpad to change the pitch and volume of the samples.  This allowing them to, like an acoustic instrument, interact with ensemble and interpret it a little differently for each performance.  Graphic notation describes how the electronic musician should perform on the laptop.

Graphic notation

Two melodies played in counterpoint by a performer moving a computer cursor in different directions

 

 

Screen Shot 2019-01-31 at 2.56.45 PMThe ensemble writing is intricate and tightly woven, and takes a neoclassical approach to form.  I tried to give equal importance to rhythm, melody, sound, harmony, and gesture.  Though many parts sound tonal, the work was too chromatic for me to set to a specific key.  Much of the piece’s complexity is derived from heavy ornamentation.  The most rhythmic movement, Bursting at the Brim, features a twelve-tone polyrhythm juxtaposed with a tonal theme played by the guitar.

 

The piece’s entirety can be listened to here:

 

 

 

Darl

for clarinet and live electronics

“Darl” is named after the character from William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying.”  A well spoken, soul searching character, Darl’s frustration over the way his family copes with his deceased mother leads him on a downward spiral, culminating with his confinement in a state mental institution.  The piece features high pitched, jarring, accented sections indicative of his turmoil, coupled with a transcendental ending built off an electronic looping structure that spectrally shimmers with the aid of several flangers.  In addition, the patch uses pitch shifting, noise, delay and ring modulation; the clarinet writing features microtones and trills that utilize alternate fingering.

EP

for trumpet and bassoon

EP is a set of three duets for trumpet and bassoon, with a final movement Daddy for bassoon alone.  This piece has been performed twice; I played the trumpet, and Melissa Birkhold on the bassoon.  Its second performance took place at Highlandtown Elementary School in inner city Baltimore.

 

https://soundcloud.com/elliott-grabill/viva-la-resistance

Rust Belt

for brass quintet

 

Rust Belt is about an region of the United States and its culture.   I wrote Rust Belt for the Meridian Arts Ensemble to perform at June in Buffalo in 2015.  I was inspired to write the first movement, Waterfront from sitting by the harbor, listening to oil tankers and feeling the wind brush up against my face.  In Trucks, I also explore the sounds of machinery, assigning each player a limited amount of pitch variation, but ask the players to create pulses at different tempi.

Men and Music have a contrasting feeling.  Unlike the minimalism of the first and third movements, these selections are busy and densely polyphonic, with fast, chromatic runs, glissandi, and occasional tonal sections.

 

 

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