Todd Lerew: Variable Speed Machine

from by Now Hear Ensemble

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The Variable Speed Machine-Wound Monochord Chorus is written for custom instruments of the same name, which were constructed solely for this piece. The monochords have tuning machines (as would be found on a bass guitar) on both sides of the string, and the performers are instructed to loosen the string at one end at the same rate that it is being tightened on the other end. Given perfect construction and performance conditions, the tension on the string would remain constant and no change in pitch would occur. However, given the inevitable imperfections in both the mechanics of the tuning machines and the subtleties of the performers' actions, deviations are unavoidable. This is one in a series of pieces in which a largely closed system reveals a small window of indeterminacy, and it is the departure from an intended yet impossible action that generates the musical material.


from Made in California, released October 28, 2013



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Now Hear Ensemble Santa Barbara, California

Founded in Santa Barbara, California in early 2012, the Now Hear Ensemble is a unique combination of double bass, percussion, clarinet, viola, and saxophone, who’s primary goal is the premier of new works by emerging composers.

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