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COMPRESS/IGNITE

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Orchestra
2019
3 min.

Bass

Bassoon

Cello

Clarinet

Flute

Horn

Oboe

Pitched Percussion

Trombone

Trumpet

Unpitched Percussion

Viola

Violin

More Details

Program Notes
On its surface, COMPRESS/IGNITE draws inspiration from the cycle used by diesel engines to harness combustion for energy. A piston rises in a chamber with vaporized fuel, gradually compressing the air/fuel mixture. As it’s compressed, the mixture gets hotter and hotter, until the fuel combusts, forcing the piston back down and powering another piston in the engine to repeat the process. Musically, the piece mimics this cycle with sections of proportional shifts in meter (referred to to as “metric modulation”), followed by rapid accelerandi, seamlessly returning the piece back to the original tempo. The piece bears a passing genetic resemblance to Bizet’s famous Farandole, from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2, most notably in both pieces’ use of a tenor drum to drive the momentum forward. A farandole is a folk dance in which participants form an interlocking line and wind through a space, much in the way that the pistons of an engine interlock to propel a vehicle forward.
Recording Notes
I am grateful to ROCO for this unique opportunity, and to Mark Buller for his recommendation. One may wonder how a piece about engine cycles fits the prescribed theme of “Hope For Beauty.” My day job is at a junkyard in the California desert, where I walk among the twisted, burnt, and in some cases bloody remains of vehicles, assessing their damage and totaling them for an insurance company. It’s depressing work, outdoors in the heat, interacting with people have just experienced a tragedy. Despite this, one can’t surround themselves with cars without marveling at the engineering that makes them work, especially when their inner workings are splayed out in front of you. There’s a kind of beauty in the way that you can see how these parts were meticulously designed to work together. One can’t help but see the similarities in which we as musicians collaborate to bring pieces to life.
Ensemble Name
ROCO

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