solo percussion (2023)ca.32”

In trace-escape-horizon the percussionist conjures a magically fragile sonic situation. The first part of the work uses only two pitches, often harmonics, which playfully flicker and blend together in a constantly shifting manner, much like the way light glistens on the surface of water. The vibraphone harmonics are created in two different ways: one by striking the metal bar with a mallet and the other by lightly touching the metal bar as it is bowed softly. While writing, I imagined Mike gently holding up a nearly ungraspable and delicate microscopic sound sculpture for us to listen to and observe from different cochlear angles. As the piece progresses, new sounds are introduced and the range of the vibraphone is expanded upwards.

In trace-escape-horizon, you, asthe listener, are encouraged to become lost in the sound and to allow your mind and ear to wander freely. The work embraces a hyper-analog aesthetic, both acoustically, and in the compositional process that was deployed to generate the music. While composing the work I developed various procedures of disorientation and I tried to eliminate any sense of development. The music was written entirely by hand, in ink, on homemade staff paper. At times the score resembles something a child might innocently draw. The aim was to imply a sense of floating ambiguity that would be reflected both in the music and its interpretation.

The title of the work comprises three words that stayed with me as I reflected on the music. The score is a map that traces my steps of disorientation and constant forgetting. The idea of the horizon has a special place in my understanding of what an artist does. For me, the artist holds open the door to the future. What that future is remains totally unpredictable and not-yet-determined; we unveil horizons for others to soar towards and to lose themselves inside of. The horizon invites us to proceed into its boundlessness with a sense of mystery, weirdness, hope, and the promise of escape.

Scott Wollschleger

trace-escape-horizon was commissioned by Michael Jones.