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On And Off And To And Fro

(2008)
Ssax, vibr, cb, 3 players with megaphones
2-8 instr
15:00
2011
C.1015
A3, 26 pages

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The title of Simon’s portrait work, On And Off And To And Fro from 2008, encapsulates his music very well. The first part, ‘On and off’ can be understood logically as the operation of the piece’s three megaphones, while the second part, ‘to and fro’, refers to the motions which are at first only necessary to produce certain sounds, but which in the course of the piece become an independent theme - a sideways motion that is propagated through the ensemble.

It begins as a trio - a saxophonist/clarinet, a cellist/double bass and a vibraphonist make small, focused, overlapping entries in a tight rhythmic, partly repetitive progression, passively amplified by the three megaphones, with a slightly distorted transistor radio sound as a result. But you can hear intense breathing alongside the notes of the instruments, and slowly the megaphones begin to react - to intervene in what they are amplifying, with noise and feedback sounds - and finally they themselves become instruments. And before you know it the megaphones are playing through a pure siren cadenza while the acoustic instruments, which were actually the centre of attention, have temporarily disappeared.

Many people will probably be amazed at how much music comes out of the three megaphones, in principle only created to speak through, while for example the cello must be content to take over the function of creating deep and heavy breathing sounds. Although there are great limitations in the rigorous concept, On And Off And To And Fro is very quickly transformed from megaphones and instruments separately into delicate music with fragile, clear sounds.

Alternative version with Eb-clarinet & cello instead of soprano saxophone & double bass available 

Buy CD on Dacapo Records

N.B! Please note that the Velleman M25SFM megaphones essential to a performance this work are no longer available. Please contact info@edition-s.dk should you be planning a performance.

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OTHER WORKS BY Simon Steen-Andersen

AVAILABLE WORKS

Video art and gallery installation


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