into a(n) (electric) butterfly’s wings

for piano and digital processing, 2015, duration 8 minutes.


fragrant orchid—

into a butterfly’s wings

it breathes incense



            During the summer of 2014 I was working on a piece for solo voice, singing and speaking.  I generated a harmonic sequence that I thought might give me some direction for the voice.  What I found was material that seemed more useful for an instrument, specifically a piano.  I spun out the individual harmonies by arpeggiating notes and extending each chord generally over at least two measures.  In the process I began to feel the nature of the piece to be reminiscent of on odd mixture of Mendelsohn, Satie, and Bill Evans.  “into a butterfly’s wings” is intended to be gentle and flowing, logical and surprisingly unpredictable, and following the path of a butterfly.

            The second version, “into a(n) (electric) butterfly’s wings”, combines piano with digital processing.  A microphone captures the piano sound that is then sent to a computer program where it is analyzed and processed.  This 2nd version score is essentially the same but with a few pauses to allow the computer generated sound to ‘wallow” and a few note changes.  The pianist performs without making any compromise for the digital processor.  The computer has ben given the score and therefore knows what the performer is going to play and approximately when the performer will do it.  The computer “follows” the performer and, upon cue, generates additional sampled sounds so as to accompany the pianist

Danielle Pfeiffer, piano

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T   © Larry Nelson 2017