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27 for amplified duo of viola and piano Julio Zúùiga 2013

Performance notes

Bb b B n µ # ˜

Ascending quarter-tone scale, from 3/4 flat to 3/4 sharp. An arrow added to an accidental indicates a very small inflection of 1/8 of a tone.

Viola Scordattura:

B µK œœ



With this taken into consideration, this is a transposing score, notated at written pitch.

Two staves are used throughout the work, whereby the upper staff concerns the bow (right hand) and the lower one the left hand. The right hand staff contains information pertaining bow position (1), bow pressure (2), bow speed (3) and right hand motion (4): 1) top line: alto sul ponticello / bottom line: alto sul tasto (here, literally over the fingerboard) 2)   The thickness of the line determines how much pressure is required. A distorted line indicates extreme bow pressure, resulting in a distorted, growling sound. 3)   “ord” : ordinario / “s” : slow (“vs” : very slow) / “f” fast 4)   A straight arrow above the staff corresponds to the normal, horizontal motion of the hand, while this arrow indicates that the violist must bow almost vertically, parallel to the strings (albeit keeping the bow itself in the same position [i.e. perpendicular to the strings]) —in all cases, however, a slightly oblique motion must be maintained, in order to preserve a minimum amount of pitched sound.

Everything must be played without vibrato. This kind of notation, without specific pitches, replaces it in a few passages, asking for a quick zigzag-like deviation of the initial note by no more than a quarter-tone:

Piano Movements of the pedals are precisely notated. A ppp sign indicates a silent movement, whereas a fff indicates the loudest possible one, in which case an actual attack should be heard, followed by the resonance of the strings (if any hammers are up).


Live-electronics The computer patch was written on MaxMSP using CLEF, a “MaxMSP-based framework for composition and performance of live-electronics developed at CIRMMT/McGill University. It relies on OpenSoundControl and pattr for messaging and preset-management” (quoted from the Open Source Encyclopedia, available online at CLEF can be downloaded for free from The Max patch employs simple granular synthesis using the object clef.munger~ and virtual resonators with clef.resonator~, both of which are automatically controlled over time. This is then rerouted via an external mixer into Mainstage (part of Apple’s Logic package), where an impulse response (IR) convolution reverb processes the sound using Space Designer. (For best results, please do not use any inter-application audio routing utility such as Soundflower, JACK, etc.) This IR simulates the response of the strings of a grand piano, which will then resonate (albeit electronically) to the excitation provided by the processed sounds of the viola. It was developed by the composer at McGill University’s Digital Composition Studios, in close collaboration with sound technician Richard McKenzie.

A stable version of CLEF that can be easily installed will be provided by the composer upon request, together with the Max and Mainstage patches, the IR file and a detailed explanation of all the requirements.

Microphones Viola One Neumann KM 185, placed at a distance of ~40-50 cm from the F-holes. Piano One Neumann KM 185, inside, on the left side of the keyboard, and one Schertler contact microphone, placed inside the piano, on a wooden part right next to the pegs of the lower strings. In absence of these specific microphones, please use some with similar features; if no good quality contact microphone is available, replace it with another Neumann (or similar hypercardioid mic).

Speaker disposition The piece can be performed with 6, 7 or 8 speakers (or more). 100% of the amplified viola will be sent to the front speakers and 100% of the amplified piano will be sent to all side and back speakers, and 50% of the piano to the front. Both Max and Mainstage patches have already been configured in this way.


Written for and dedicated to Kerry Smith

27 with live-electronics Julio Zúùiga




reverb wet signal: -35.0 dB


-35.0 dB


-10.0 dB

15 - 20 “


reverb wet signal: -35.0 dB

0.0 dB (full)



12 - 20 “

* 1)

pedal 1

reverb (wet signal: -10.0 dB)

25 - 35 “

-40.0 dB

15 - 25 “

* 1) twist the bow at the same time; the resulting sound should be unclear with respect to pitch and with a predominance of noise from the hair of the bow being rubbed against the strings






* gradually twist bow (see m.63)


granulation + reverb [MAX —> Mainstage] (reverb wet signal: -10.0 dB)



no pitch; only noise

pedal 2

San José, Costa Rica — Perm, Rusia — Montreal, Canadá agosto, 2012 — febrero, 2013


27 (2013)  

for amplified duo of viola and piano with live-electronics

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