Metaxis III, for contrabass and droner (2020)
Metaxis III is a work for Contrabass and Droner (an instrument in Max MSP, a visual programming language for music and multimedia). The piece uses an equally-tempered 14-tone scale and 25 pages of graphic score as the basis for its performance. The performer is instructed to choose several pages of graphic score, to be played in conjunction with the Droner track, which explores the various harmonic timbres within the interval of a minor second (between the pitches B1-C2). Over the duration of the piece, the interactions between the bass and droner create various rates of acoustic beating, which may be perceived as shifting rhythmic "pulsing" along with the emergence of psychoacoustic difference tones that may be perceived between pitches (headphones or good speakers are encouraged for listening!).
"Metaxis" is the word used by Plato to describe the existential state of "in-betweeness" that he believed was a structural characteristic of the human condition. This is derived from the idea of human existence as suspended in a web of many polarities that define us: the one and the many, eternity and time, freedom and fate, instinct and intellect, risk and safety, love and hate.
Huge thanks to Armando Wood for working with me throughout the process of making this piece a reality, especially contributing some really helpful tuning advice for the bass!
This video features a rough animation of the three pages of visual score Armando selected for his performance of this piece. Hope you like it!
Metaxis III was composed for the "Quarantine Composers Collaboration Project," hosted by the Bay Area Composers Group and premiering new works via livestream by composers from the Bay Area.