shadows no. 1 

Linling Hsu, violin     Irina Kom, dancer

Program Note

A shadow changes according to qualities of light and the different surfaces onto which they are cast. Shadows range from close representations to unrecognizable variations on the shape of the source. This imagery guides different elements in the piece from the development of melodic, timbral, and rhythmic motives to the relationship between the violin and the electronic part. For example, one motive in the violin part involves gradual timbral changes while remaining on one pitch, reflecting how shadows change relative to the time of the day. Shadows no. 1 for violin and fixed media (dancer optional) is the first in a series of pieces for various instruments, fixed media and/or interactive computer-generated sound, and a modern-tribal belly dancer. The piece references the Middle Eastern genre, taqāsīm, which is a meterless improvisation. I created the composition and choreography in tandem, often referencing the movement vocabulary to generate material for the violin part. Certain violin passages and electronic sounds feature sonorities and timbres that mimic and complement the undulating and sinuous quality of the dance style. The violin part often features flautando and a slow alternation between an open string and the same-fingered pitch on an adjacent string. This, along with slow glissandi, harmonics, melodic fragments that fade in and out, and a series of low-frequency modulated sine waves creates a sonic complement to the body-wave, a periodic, undulating motion. Ideally in performance, the violinist and dancer’s movement cast shadows behind the performers, creating a slowly morphing, ethereal image.


3/23/06: Linling Hsu and Irina Komarovskaya, Old Cabell Hall, Charlottesville, VA (premiere)

3/25/06: Linling Hsu and Irina Komarovskaya, McGuffey Art Center, Charlottesville, VA