Process and Apparitions of The Four Pillars

The First Avant Music Festival

February 13th, 2010

An early score image of Randy Gibson's <em>Apparitions of The Four Pillars</em>
An early score image of Randy Gibson's Apparitions of The Four Pillars | Photo by Randy Gibson

The First Avant Music Festival

February 13th, 2010

In a week, we will be presenting the world premiere of my latest piece, Apparitions of The Four Pillars, as part of the Avant Music Festival - I wanted to share a bit about my process on what has turned into the most radical work I've written in a long time.

Ever since I got my first toy organ in early 2009 I've been brewing a piece that would involve a number of organs, sine waves, and performers. Something modular, and maybe a little tiny bit more portable than the behemoth that is Doleo Æternus.

My basic process whenever I write a new piece is as follows: a kernel of an idea will come to me - it may be the tuning, or a sound, or a texture, or even (rarely) a feeling or emotion; that idea then percolates in my brain for a long time, popping up here or there unnoticed or considered, until the right moment comes along; then the piece tends to sort of tumble out quickly, nearly fully formed - being refined through the rehearsal process into the shape it will be in its first performance.

When, shortly after the premiere of Doleo Æternus, I approached Wild Project about the possibility of returning to do a festival of sorts, I never expected it would happen so quickly. I'm glad it did, because Apparitions came tumbling out in a matter of days, almost ready to go.

As soon as I had the tuning structure in mind (it's based on the idea of four pillars of tuning, stacks of 5ths, 7ths, 9ths, and 11ths) - the actual piece structure came very naturally, and I sketched out my first score to begin working on the electronics

The realm of sine waves (an intense series of related prime harmonics inspired by the dense prime-harmonic sine-wave compositions pioneered by my mentor La Monte Young), and the delay lines (a rhythmically / harmonically linked process) quickly put everything into perspective, not only about this iteration, but how future smaller or larger iterations could be formed, and how this tuning structure could act as a basis for a series of interconnected pieces.

This performance will carry the full title: Apparitions of The Four Pillars with Their Lowest Primes, The Premonition of The Second Rung, and The Third Rung Connector

In addition to the violinists Drew Blumberg and Catherine McCurry, who make up The Apparition String Ensemble, I'm very excited to be joined in the World Premiere by Tom Chiu, the brilliant experimental violinist ; and in the Avant-Premiere by William Lang, the avant-garde trombonist. The projection that Oscar Henriquez is creating for us to perform in is truly breathtaking and hypnotic and will be the perfect foil for the droning shimmering wall of sound that characterizes this piece.


Dress Rehearsal photo by Travis Dubreuil:

Randy Gibson performing "Apparitions of The Four Pillars"

See Also:
Descending The Starfield Symmetry | Double Bass, Long Delay Lines, and Symmetrical Harmonic Sine Waves | November, 2015
Textura Interview about *Apparitions of The Four Pillars* | news item | June, 2014
A Big February Again | news item | February, 2013
The Seventh Avant Festival | news item | February, 2016
Input for Avant Media | news item | November, 2013
Nada Symmetry for The Midwinter Starfield | Voice, Saxophone, Sine Waves, and Pre-Recorded Tracks | November, 2015
The Eternal 27:28 Triple Octave Displacement under The 72:81:88 Differential Apparition | Sine Waves | February, 2016