Dan Trueman, 120bpm (2011)
Duration: 16 minutes
Instrumentation: Percussion Quartet
Commissioned by So Percussion
Premiered by So Percussion on March 11, 2011, at McCullough Theatre in Austin, Texas
Copyright/publisher: Good Child Music

The composer writes:

120bpm, the second movement of neither Anvil nor Pulley, is part ode to the metronome, and part revenge against the metronome. Unlike most metronomes, which forge onward regardless of what we might do, the digital metronomes in 120bpm have one weakness: they can be reset, with the strike of a woodblock, restarting their clicking anew. This proves to be startlingly intriguing, weaving together two different kinds of time: the kind that machines measure, and the kind that we feel (think: “a watched pot never boils”). In 120bpm, the players wrestle with these metronomes through a series of variations and explorations; the metronomes slow by half (60bpm), and by half again (30bpm), becoming excruciatingly slow and elusive, at which point the players take another tack, drawing continuous (non-percussive!) sonorities from the computer via repurposed game controllers, attempting to submerge the metronomes in waves of sound. In counterattack, the metronomes beginning to successively double their speed, becoming a wave of sound themselves. This is a battle of wills and ideas, one that I hope reveals something about our machines and ourselves.

About the composer:

Dan Trueman is a composer, fiddler and electronic musician. He began studying violin at the age of 4, and decades later, after a chance encounter, fell in love with the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, an instrument and tradition that has deeply affected all of his work, whether as a fiddler, a composer or musical explorer. He has worked with many groups and musicians, including Trollstilt and QQQ, the American Composers Orchestra, So Percussion, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Brentano and Daedelus string quartets, the Crash Ensemble, many wonderful fiddlers, and has performed across America, Ireland and Norway.

His explorations have extended into new technologies; he co-founded the Princeton Laptop Orchestra, the first ensemble of its size and kind that has led to the formation of similarly inspired ensembles across the world, from Oslo to Dublin, to Stanford and Bangkok. His compositional work reflects this complex and broad range of activities, exploring rhythmic connections between traditional dance music and machines, for instance, or engaging with the unusual phrasing, tuning and ornamentation of the traditional Norwegian music while trying to discover new music that is singularly inspired by, and only possible with, new digital instruments that he designs and constructs. His work has been recognized by fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, among others. He is professor of music and director of the Princeton Sound Kitchen at Princeton University, where he teaches counterpoint, electronic music and composition.

For more information about Dan Trueman, visit manyarrowsmusic.com.