Threnody (2010) by Michael Oliva
for Alto Flute and Electronics
Threnody was originally composed as the wordless sixth movement of my recent Requiem, occupying the position taken by the rather sentimental Pie Jesu in Faure and Durufle's versions. It was however always conceived as also having an independent life as a work for solo alto flute and electronics.
The composer would like to thank Dave Pape for use of his recording of the Tiger Hill temple in Darjeeling, and Nicholas Robinson and the members of Mosaic for the recording of the choral parts.
The lectronic part taks the form of triggers (indicated in the score) for a Max patch (supplied as a download) which is operated by a separate performer seated at a mixing desk in a suitable position in the auditorium. As well as triggering the patch this performer should ensure an even balance between the flute and electronics. If preferred, other software can of course be used to trigger the supplied soundfiles.
The patch runs on a computer fitted with a good audio interface which feeds into a high quality stereo PA, with speakers positioned behind the flautist on either side of the stage. Care should be taken to make sure the PA has a good bass and sub-bass response, since the electronics countain some extremely low frequency sounds, and these need to be reproduced at a good volume without distortion. Use of a subwoofer is recommended.
The flute should be lightly amplified to help blend with the electronics and, dependent on venue acoustics, allow use of reberb which can be handled by the patch. To allow this send the flute signal (pre-fader) from the desk into input 1 of the audio interface.
It is important that the flautist can hear the electronic part clearly, especially for syncrhonisation and tuning, but use of extra monitor speakers should be avoided if possible as this can muddy the stereo image of the sound.