Patrice Donald, piano, The University of Memphis, 1996 SCI National Conference/Imagine
'96 (March 1996)
Leslie Cook, piano, SCI Region V Conference, Ohio University, Athens, OH (October
Jim Lowe, piano, SEAMUS@Ithica '95, Ithica College, Ithica, NY (March 1995)
Leslie Cook, piano, Midwest Composers Symposium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor,
MI (November 1994)
Note: This piece has been chroegraphed and performed by dancers.
Performance by Janalen Fischer (10/99) reviewed in the San Antonio Express News by Mike Greenburg:
"...its urban boogie-woogie bang-bang
alternated with some quiet chord-based passages and, at
the end, a section as cool and glistening as an ice floe."
Skallagrimsson, for 2-channel tape and piano, is based on a solo piano piece
(Piano Solo No. 8 - Skallagrimsson) which I wrote in 1989.
This version of the piece (done in the Summer of 1993) is not a simple "orchestration" of the
original; most of the tape part is new material. It is, however, a piano piece with tape
accompaniment. It is in four sections and is about 6'30" in duration.
The first two sections work with similar material and moods, and they form a larger part
of the whole. The piece opens with a bass ostinato which forms the underpinning to the first part
and the basis for much of the material of the piece. The fierce opening music is alternated with
bell-like chords in the piano (combined with strings on the tape) which punctuate the larger
phrases. The second section is staccato throughout, and, in imitative fugue-like presentations (the
first one is on the tape), introduces a new expression of the opening material, this one in jerky
rhythms. After dropping the fugue and building in intensity, the first half of the piece ends with
the ostinato and bell-like chords returning.
In the transition into the next section, the opening aggressive music evaporates up into the
highest part of the piano. The third part of the piece contrasts the earlier two; it is soft, slow and
lyrical. Even this builds to an agitated state however, and, after a climax, there is the one
extended tape-only passage in the piece. This is of the bell-like music now more fully realized,
and it acts as a bridge into the final section.
This last bit is like the first half of the piece (particularly the second part) but now pushed
to maximum. The piece ends with a flourish of sixteenth notes harking back to the ostinato and
the "fugue" subject.
The tape part of Skallagrimsson was realized at Indiana University's Center for Electronic
and Computer Music. Most of the work was done using the Performer sequencing program. The
sounds came from two synthesizers (a Yamaha SY-77 and a Kurzweil K1000) and various
samples processed on an E-MU E-III sampler.
The name of the work comes from the title character of Egil's Saga, Egil Skallagrimsson.
Egil's Saga, one of the major Icelandic sagas, was written around 1230 AD, possibly by Snorri
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