Mikel Kuehn - Works

Music through Prisms (1998), for 2- or 8-channel fixed media: [Flash Required]

 

Program Note

Music through Prisms, was inspired by a vision of applying a light prism to sounds. The prism, a triangular or hexagonal piece of glass, is used to disperse or “split” a light wave into its representative spectrum or constituent colors; hence, the “rainbow” effect that occurs when it is subjected to white light. As sound and light are in a sense the same material (waves) — although their physical quanta are different — what would be the effect of passing sound waves through prisms? The “prisms” in this sense are processes that in some way alter or transform the original sound’s spectrum. Just as glass prisms are capable of breaking white light into all of its representative colors, these musical prisms break, extract, and isolate or recombine elements of the source’s sonic spectrum. In many cases, this entirely distorts the original sonic identity of the source. Over the course of the work’s twelve-and-a-half minutes, a metamorphosis occurs in which the source material (the music that is fed into the prisms) is gradually revealed. The food for the prisms are four previous works of mine, two acoustic:Fünf Parabeln for soprano and chamber ensemble, and Between the Lynes for flute, ‘cello, and piano; and two electro-acoustic: Diaspora (electronic), and ...remembrance of things past... (a text-sound composition based on a recitation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXX).


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