No 45 Three Vertical Swells (2010)

For Hammond Organ and ensemble of 7 musicians

Commissioned by: Royal Conservatory of The Hague, with financial support from the Netherlands Fund for the Performing Arts
First Performance: student ensemble of the Royal Conservatory, February 5 2010, Arnold Schönbergzaal, The Hague
Instrumentation: Hammond Organ, 2 winds, 2 strings, electric guitar, ebow piano, percussion & Sinewaves
Duration: ca. 28’
Special Features: Performance requires stopwatch monitor on stage, sound engineer and amplification for all musicians. Piano part requires 5 Ebows.

Score samples

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Info/Program note:
Three Vertical Swells consists of three nine-minute movements for Hammond Organ, amplified ensemble and sinewaves. The piece indirectly takes its title from an analysis I made of the Leslie loudspeakers prior to writing the piece. Two significant elements thereof were translated on to the music as a whole: 1) the speed of the revolving Leslie horns and 2) a curious, probably unintended, glissando-like fuzz which seemed to emanate from the loudspeakers. Both elements served as a direct source for the sine-patch, which due to the extremely slow beating-patterns (up to 1/1000th of a cent), seemed to result in a sense of acoustic motion which was often more up down (vertical) than left right (horizontal).

The Hammond Organ itself is used exclusively for the clear rhythmic patterns and often massive pulsations which are inherent to its construction and makes extensive use of weights with which the keys are held down – enabling a lot of play with specified drawbar combinations. The remainder of the ensemble either systematically trace the microtonal contours of the sine patch, in varying speeds and interval sizes (winds and strings), or complement these processes through tracking Hertz values (percussion, sections I and II) or through magnifying specific speeds in the sine-patch (piano keys and percussion). The Ebows (piano) and Electric Guitar mainly serve to conjure up harmony and alternate beating patterns.

Written in three sections - High, Low and full range - the piece is conceived as one whole, with the material of the first part returning on top of the transposed material of the second for the final section.

Three Vertical Swells is dedicated to Martijn Padding, who commissioned the work for the students of the composition department and proved to me, in passing, that highly specialized music does not necessarily require highly specialized musicians for a magnificent performance.