sound art (alex keller)

Sunset on X-Ray (2003)

Rob Bigley, the director of the Shoreline Community College Chamber Chorale, asked me to write the piece that became Sunset on X-Ray for a concert he’d planned called War and Peace dealing with the just-launched Iraq War.

Take a look at the score here.

Excerpted from the score:

Sunset on X-Ray is a piece in which the performers, constrained to a very simple tonality, improvise together. In it, the audience hears the sound of a buzzing fluorescent light created by an ensemble of four or more voices, mimicking the constant artificial light that the “unlawful combatants” indefinitely imprisoned in Guantanamo, Cuba are subject to. While the piece is performed, very bright lights will be directed at the audience.

The piece should feel like a mosaic in which the few elements are always the same but their relationships to each other are always changing. The lack of formal structure and development may seem to be a limitation but will create tension for an audience, and also will cause them to appreciate the more subtle changes that will happen.