Shunt

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for piano and tape (1999)
Premiere: SEAMUS Conference at the University of North Texas by Mischa Zupko – March 2000

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Shunt is a work for piano and tape, which explores the idea of extending the timbral possibilities of an acoustic instrument. The sounds that make up the tape part are almost entirely manipulated piano samples and range from the driest, most attack-oriented sounds to the most sustained and resonant. Other timbral resources include the juxtaposition of mistuned layers and the use of samples highlighting the extended resources of the piano (string scrapes, damped strings, etc.). The intent was to create a kind of ensemble piece for pianos where each “piano” (or track) in the tape part would have its own special characteristics extending the natural resources of the piano. As layers accumulate the impression is that of a kind of mechanistic super-piano with the acoustic piano at its core.

The title refers to the diverging nature of the tape tracks in relation to the live instrument, which serves as a kind of springboard for the entrance of each new layer. Often times the term shunt is used in relation to railroad cars moving from one track to another. This suggested to me images of fleeting landscapes and environments that change almost instantaneously with abrupt changes in direction.

Score Dimensions

Page Size: 10"x13"