Petaluma Howls

Page 1

THOMAS LIMBERT for Abbi Samuels

Pe t a lu m a How l s soprano and electronic sound 2021 Duration: c. 4’

PERFORMANCE NOTES: The piece should begin with a few seconds of a cappella coyote or wolf-like howling after which the audio track should be started. The electronic sound features a metronomic quarter-note pulse to serve as a click track and pitch guide. The “text” is designed to represent elongated versions of the various ways humans make howling sounds with the following phonemes in mind: “oo” = [u]; “ah” = [ɑ]; “eh” = [e]; “uh” = [ʌ];“ow” = [aʊ] (dipthong) The singer may adjust the articulation/production of the phonemes as necessary to suit her voice with the main goal being that the melodic phrases be sung using a variety of exaggerated howllike vocal shapes. The speed and placement of the grace notes are at the discretion of the singer and may be adjusted according to the phoneme being sung. ABOUT THE MUSIC: Every night during the month of April 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 quarantine, I recorded a few minutes of my Petaluma, CA neighborhood residents howling at 8pm. These collective outbursts allowed us to blow off steam in an uncertain time, come together as a community, and most importantly, give a literal shout out to health care workers and first responders. Some nights were louder than others and one will hear cars swooshing by my recorder, dogs joining in, or fireworks being set off down the street. To build the electronic voice accompaniment, I analyzed the recording of each night using specialized software (and my ears) to determine the closest applicable tonality as projected by the howlers. I carefully time-compressed the several minutes of howling from each night into only a few seconds and then electronically filtered and resonated the resulting clouds of sound through a chord progression and synthesized bass line derived from the tonal implications of each recording. The vocal part is meant to highlight the pitch content of the compressed soundscapes with the singer being asked to produce vocal sounds that emulate deconstructed and elongated howls. My hope is that the composition gives the listener a musical and emotional impression of this unique sonic and social phenomenon.


for Abbi Samuels

Petaluma Howls THOMAS LIMBERT

With a hopeful melancholy

Soprano

Pulse

Chords + Bass

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