Electric Serpent

for piano and 4-channel electronics

Part 1: Serpent on the edge of an abyss

Part 2: Electric currents

 

Electric Serpent is a piece for piano and electronics, originally written for the pianist Sarah Nicolls. It is part of Magical Theatre, a cycle of pieces based on the four suits of the minor Arcana of Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot. Electric Serpent represents the fire element and the wands suit of the minor arcana.

The piece explores the various spectral possibilities of the metallic piano sound. The first part is based mostly on sounds created from exciting the strings inside the piano, while the second part employs normal hammered piano and synthesized sounds. Both parts begin from the lower register of the piano and gradually cover the whole sound spectrum. That is achieved through different ways of mixing multiple layers of instrumental and synthesized sounds. The live piano is treated not much differently from the electronic layers, although the performer may provide a link to the real sound-world and human gesture, both aurally and visually. The musical discourse is approached as a single virtual, physical, sound object consisting of various closely connected “surfaces” or “frames” which are continually unfolding and transforming, providing thus different “views” of the same object.

Electric Serpent

 

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