Racing Against Time

Excerpt recorded at the Banff Centre for the Arts, 2003. David A. Jaffe, Irene Mitri, violins; Dale Stammen, Kimm Brockett Stammen, saxophones; Judy Kehler Siebert, piano; Andrew Schloss, Radio-Drum.

Racing Against Time
for Radio Drum-controlled sound,
2 violins, 2 saxophones and piano

Duration: 15' 

Instrumentation: 2 violins, soprano/tenor saxophone (one player), alto/baritone saxophone (one player), Radio Drum-controoled SynthCore (SoundMax) sound engine

“Racing Against Time” (2001) is based on personal experience with the peculiar time distortion that results from being the father of two children under the age of three. The piece was commissioned by Dale Stammen, Kimm Brockett Stammen and Judy Kehler Siebert of the Quarks! Trio.

The piece uses the seemingly-magical flexibility of the Radio Drum to extend and abstract the sounds of the instruments, and transform them into sounds that we don't usually think of as "musical," including a racing car, a jet plane and a "weird string." These are rendered using computer “physical models,” simulations of the actual physics of the objects, which allow the Radio Drum to impart a finer degree of expressive nuance than would be possible with conventional samples.

The physical model simulations were created using software written by the composer at Staccato Systems, Inc, a company he co-founded in 1996 to develop applications of physical modeling technology. (Staccato Systems was purchased by Analog Devices, Inc. in 2001.) The technology has been used not only for music, but also to impart a sense of hyper-realism to computer game sound effects. “Racing Against Time” is the first use of this technology in a contemporary music context.

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