Bright Air / Brilliant Fire
Composed by Diane Thome (b.1942)
For Flute (Alto Flute) and CD recording of computer realized sound
Published by C.F. Peters Corp.
Duration: 11 min
Includes score, solo flute (C and G) part, and CD
Includes 3 sections of music. C Flute is used in the first two sections and alto flute is utilized in the third.
At times my initial compositional impulse is connected with poetic metaphors. Such is the case with Bright Air/Brilliant Fire, which was suggested by a quotation from the 6th century Greek physician, poet, and philosopher of mind, Empedocles: “For by earth we see earth, by water water; by air bright air, and by fire brilliant fire.” Exactly how these poetic images evoke sonic gestures is, of course, part of the mystery and exhilaration of the creative process. In any case, I believe it is always the listener's choice how far to carry a visually or programmatically suggestive title.
The flute and tape parts are shaped as complementary and contrasting partners in a continuously unfolding sonic structure that moves through time in three overlapping sections. The electronic music opens the piece very slowly in an ethereal, airy, deliberate manner with the flute responding to its mysterious anbiance in a series of separate phrases that often take their point of departure from melodic motifs in the tape.
The electronic music of the second section is articulated through a long succession of slowly changing harmonies that evolve out of a new timbral complex. The flute provides a constant line of reiterated and ebullient patterns that bubble irrepressibly on the surface of the much more slowly changing tape music until a clear and climactic fusion of the two is reached with high trills in both. The climax dissolves into a descending glissando in the tape, signlaling the start of the third and final section of the piece. In contrast to the previous two, the tape portion of this section presents layerings of multiple acoustic sounds electronically processed and integrated with the live flute in a conflagration of sound. The third section is the only one to utilize alto flute.
The electronic portion of Bright Air/Brilliant Fire was contructed utilizing the following: KYMA software running on the Capybara-66 DSP System; SoundHack and Deck II.5 software running on a Power Macintosh compurter; and a Kurzweil 2000 keyboard. Robert Austin was my collaborator in the production of the tape.
Bright Air/Brilliant Fire was commissioned in 1996 by Sigma Alpha Iota, International Music Fraternity.
– Diane Thome