AquaticAquatic
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Aquatic

for solo vibraphone and multimedia
Level: Advanced
Duration: 8:50
Release Date: 2021
Product ID : TSPCS21-020
Price: $24.00
Item #: TSPCS21-020

Formats Available:


Description

When writing Aquatic, Russell Wharton found inspiration in the same place as much of his work: the physical world. This time around, he explores oceanic life, which he describes as “friendly, terrifying, alien, majestic, enormous, and microscopic.” Wharton also takes interest in the media surrounding this life. He specifically pays homage to Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Our Planet, and Subnautica.

The music covers a wide expressive range, reflecting the diversity and fragility of the Earth’s oceans. The driving force throughout is an undulating arpeggio pattern, which frequently shifts in its written rhythms. This morphing of the pattern leaves room for player interpretation, resulting in a quasi-swing feel that opens and closes like a jellyfish. This piece is an impressive and powerful addition to any advanced solo recital!

Aquatic ships as a printed, professionally bound folio with a full-color cover. The audio track and optional video accompaniment are included as downloadable files.

Instrumentation

  • Solo vibraphone
  • Amplification system (for included audio accompaniment)
  • Projection system (for optional video accompaniment)

Reviews

Advances in technology have made it possible to create wonderful pieces of sound art with the aid of multimedia. “Aquatic” is one such piece. It blends the brilliant sonorities of the vibraphone with a carefully crafted audio track and an optional video depicting oceanic life. It takes the audience on a meditative journey, while retaining plenty of technical challenges.

In a broad sense, the work is in a type of rondo form, going between a main textural idea and a series of differing monophonic sections. The main textural idea is a series of arpeggiated seventh-chord harmonies in various inversions performed in a gentle, rippling fashion. We see one of the primary rhythmic themes of the piece in these repetitive gestures: morphing. Imagine having an even set of sextuplets. Now imagine compressing the first three and expanding the last three so that even though they are no longer even, they still complete on the next beat. This describes the content of this first section, which is primarily made up of these altered sextuplets, with unadulterated sextuplets sprinkled in occasionally. This creates a sense of being off-balance yet still retaining stability, like walking shoulder-deep in water against light waves. This is just one example of how a set of six notes is “morphed.” Wharton does this is several different ways — some more challenging than others.

The alternate monophonic sections still make use of Wharton’s rhythmic morphing — be it a section of even triplets and broken quintuplets, or one that features moving up and down the instrument in quintuplets that gradually become sixteenths, then triplets, and so on. One of the ideas of the work is to keep the sense of pulse ambiguous, but not so much that the listener is left uncomfortable — a balancing act that Wharton has succeeded at.

The accompanying track is a well-orchestrated series of string lines, horn calls, whale sounds, white noise, and reversed guitar sounds, just to name a few. Wharton has accomplished the difficult task of composing a piece with an electronic track in which neither the live performer nor the computer outplays the other. They are both equally important and balanced throughout to create this oceanic soundscape.

The morphing device that Wharton cultivated for this piece is, no doubt, a challenging one. When the nine-minute runtime is also considered, “Aquatic” would certainly take time to perfect. But when performed as intended, the audience will be transported to a beautiful flowing world of waves, whales, and jellyfish.

—Kyle Cherwinski
Percussive Notes
Vol. 60, No. 3, June 2022

Description

When writing Aquatic, Russell Wharton found inspiration in the same place as much of his work: the physical world. This time around, he explores oceanic life, which he describes as “friendly, terrifying, alien, majestic, enormous, and microscopic.” Wharton also takes interest in the media surrounding this life. He specifically pays homage to Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Our Planet, and Subnautica.

The music covers a wide expressive range, reflecting the diversity and fragility of the Earth’s oceans. The driving force throughout is an undulating arpeggio pattern, which frequently shifts in its written rhythms. This morphing of the pattern leaves room for player interpretation, resulting in a quasi-swing feel that opens and closes like a jellyfish. This piece is an impressive and powerful addition to any advanced solo recital!

Aquatic ships as a printed, professionally bound folio with a full-color cover. The audio track and optional video accompaniment are included as downloadable files.

Instrumentation

  • Solo vibraphone
  • Amplification system (for included audio accompaniment)
  • Projection system (for optional video accompaniment)

Reviews

Advances in technology have made it possible to create wonderful pieces of sound art with the aid of multimedia. “Aquatic” is one such piece. It blends the brilliant sonorities of the vibraphone with a carefully crafted audio track and an optional video depicting oceanic life. It takes the audience on a meditative journey, while retaining plenty of technical challenges.

In a broad sense, the work is in a type of rondo form, going between a main textural idea and a series of differing monophonic sections. The main textural idea is a series of arpeggiated seventh-chord harmonies in various inversions performed in a gentle, rippling fashion. We see one of the primary rhythmic themes of the piece in these repetitive gestures: morphing. Imagine having an even set of sextuplets. Now imagine compressing the first three and expanding the last three so that even though they are no longer even, they still complete on the next beat. This describes the content of this first section, which is primarily made up of these altered sextuplets, with unadulterated sextuplets sprinkled in occasionally. This creates a sense of being off-balance yet still retaining stability, like walking shoulder-deep in water against light waves. This is just one example of how a set of six notes is “morphed.” Wharton does this is several different ways — some more challenging than others.

The alternate monophonic sections still make use of Wharton’s rhythmic morphing — be it a section of even triplets and broken quintuplets, or one that features moving up and down the instrument in quintuplets that gradually become sixteenths, then triplets, and so on. One of the ideas of the work is to keep the sense of pulse ambiguous, but not so much that the listener is left uncomfortable — a balancing act that Wharton has succeeded at.

The accompanying track is a well-orchestrated series of string lines, horn calls, whale sounds, white noise, and reversed guitar sounds, just to name a few. Wharton has accomplished the difficult task of composing a piece with an electronic track in which neither the live performer nor the computer outplays the other. They are both equally important and balanced throughout to create this oceanic soundscape.

The morphing device that Wharton cultivated for this piece is, no doubt, a challenging one. When the nine-minute runtime is also considered, “Aquatic” would certainly take time to perfect. But when performed as intended, the audience will be transported to a beautiful flowing world of waves, whales, and jellyfish.

—Kyle Cherwinski
Percussive Notes
Vol. 60, No. 3, June 2022


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