Compost and Height Archive: Sarah Hennies, Psalms

“Psalms” was inspired by two pieces: a vibraphone solo I composed in 2001 as a memorial for Herbert Br√ľn wherein random changes in resonance occur via consistency in striking location, and Alvin Lucier’s “Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra” (which I first performed in April 2009) wherein changes in timbre and resonance occur via variation in striking location, dampening, and rate of attack. With the three “Psalms” I applied these playing methods to snare drum and woodblock, and also explored the vibraphone in much greater detail.

The “Psalms” are compositions that emerged from repeat performances where structure, duration, and form were slowly determined over time rather than the usual method of composing first and performing after. The “Psalms” along with “Silver Streetcar” and the untitled vibraphone piece from 2001 have now been recorded and will eventually be released as an album. This performance at the Avant Garden in Houston is an early version of the “Psalms,” performed here as a single, continuous listening experience.

The live recording is a somewhat inaccurate representation of the music as it fails to pick up the wildly varied and alien sounds of the echoes and resonance in the room (for the studio recordings James Talambas mic’d both the instruments and various points of the space) but I think is still worth listening to.

The pieces on this recording are:

1. Psalm One for vibraphone
2. Psalm Two for snare drum
3. Psalm Three for woodblock
4. Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra (Alvin Lucier)
5. untitled (1918-2000)

Sarah Hennies РPsalms (35:26)

Recorded live in Houston by Pete Gershon at the Avant Garden, 23 August 2009

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