Perigee-Syzygy is a work inspired by the tetrad of supermoons in 2015. The music stems from various influences such as Steve Reich, Muse, Vienna Teng, and Sō Percussion. The music mixes traditional chamber music, Electronic Dance Music, and sampling to create an ever-changing atmosphere. In this piece, I wanted to create an aural and visual effect unlike any other that I’ve experienced. I included the use of lightbulbs to represent the different sections of the piece and the progression of the moon around the Earth at the time of eclipse. Also included is sunlight from off-stage.
The opening track sets the tone of the piece through use of synthesized sounds and spoken word. As the track gains momentum, there is a seamless transition to bring the acoustic instruments into the foreground. While the clarinet soars over the texture of the keyboard instruments, electronic tracks marry the acoustic lines to create a linear and dense atmosphere. In Section II: Perigee, the music introduces sampled elements such as words and notes from the original source material in the beginning track. Canons in the pianos and vibraphones lead the listener into a new dynamic and feel: Section III: Syzygy. This section is a five-minute EDM track that is inspired by Steve Reich’s City Life. The entire section is modeled after popular songs that you would hear by artists such as Daft Punk. A unique part of this section is that the clarinet player is also required to play on a trigger pad that plays spoken word samples.
After this section, the solo clarinet brings in Section IV: Supermoon. This part of the piece is the only one without a steady track accompanying the live performers. This section is about the moon’s shift to red-orange as it travels behind the Earth to capture the sun’s light emanating through the Earth’s atmosphere. The track, together with the performers, builds into the climax of the piece. After the climax fades away, the opening three notes from Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra can be heard before the music transitions into Section V: Perigee (Reprise). This section uses the same track as Section II, but the acoustic instruments provide a waltz-like landscape. After the reprise ends, thematic material from Section III returns and then the main theme (played by the clarinet) is heard for the final time. The opening material returns and the listener is taken back to the point of departure as the final moments of the piece fade away.
Instrumentation: B-flat clarinet, 2 marimbas (one 5-octave, one 4.5-octave), 2 standard vibraphones, 2 pianos, 2 djembes, 2 multiple percussion set-ups (snare drum, kick drum, brake drum, ribbon crasher, two bongos, G and C crotales - low octave), 6 speakers, laptop with MASCHINE Software, MASCHINE Hardware, 6 lamps (including one with a red bulb next to the clarinetist).