nebenwirkung / side effect

for Trio Estatico
UA 03.04.2022, Amstelkerk, Amsterdam. Megumi Kasakawa, Jack Stulz, Paul Beckett, Viola.

Long before possible side effects from a vaccine began being ubiquitously discussed, people in the audio community started dealing with side effects: tape machines had a bad frequency response. Slight tempo variations in Vinyl players caused wow and flutter, which resulted in detuned music. Microphones crackled. Preamps produced noise. And today we are dealing with all kinds of digital glitches and artifacts. This piece uses some of the sonic trash of the last decades as material, and examines the musical quality of the unwanted.

The amplification of the three violists is permanently being switched off and on, and therefore explores an unfamiliar offset between room acoustics and sonic nuances of noise that would not become audible without microphones. This opens up the possibility of a psychologic comparison of sounds of the same volume: how does a loudly played pizzicato without amplification sounds compared to a heavily amplified, softly played pizz.? In addition, the switches of amplification are also driven by the examination of absolute silence, that only exists theoretically, but whose illusion might last for a short moment after switching off the amplification.

And then there are side effects of a whole different kind: the soft, unwanted sounds performers create even when they’re not trying to play anything at all. Small muscle movements, unwanted noises of the instrument – some of them might become audible in heavy amplification. In this piece, the technical phenomenon of electronic side effects is used as musical material in the acoustic world, and therefore becomes more human.