Watch the May 2016 premiere of Alex Shapiro’s geo-electroacoustic, minimalist piece for symphonic wind band, ROCK MUSIC. The piece was commissioned and performed by the Sun Prairie Middle School Band in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, conducted by Chris Gleason. The video slide show that accompanies this performance was created by 7th grader Anastasia Rockman.
“Music doesn’t have to be experienced as an element separate from the rest of our daily lives. It’s as much part of our world as the ground on which we walk, and composing ROCK MUSIC was the perfect opportunity to make this point. I asked the students of Patrick Marsh Middle School to venture out into their neighborhoods, find a pair of rocks, discover sounds that can be coaxed from them, and record the results. My inbox was soon filled with nearly 100 mp3s sporting a stunning variety of geological sonic creativity! Many of those sounds are the basis of the accompaniment audio track over which ROCK MUSIC is composed.
In parallel to this holistic vision, band director Chris Gleason invited a geologist from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey to give a talk to the band students. Brandishing a 3D map of Wisconsin that displayed the state’s varying terrain, she spoke of the glaciers that transformed the landscapes of Sun Prairie— and, San Juan Island— 15,000 years ago. The students then made video reports that paired their newfound knowledge of local geology with their individual recipes for eliciting sounds from rocks.
In this geo-electroacoustic piece, the music slowly crawls, melts, and scrapes over a sonic landscape in random, irregular ways: much as the glaciers carved the world we know, and strive to protect.
If there is a message to this rather abstract music, it would be that our climate is changing, and those changes are profoundly affecting the physical world in which we live. These students are inheriting these changes and their sobering results, and we all have a responsibility to protect the future of the kids we love.”
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ – Jeremiah 29:11
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