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for percussion and electronics

When you stand on Tokyo Tower in the city district of Minato and face south, you can see Haneda airport.  During sunset, viewers can witness a breathtaking spectacle: aircrafts taking off and landing over Tokyo's skyline.  The variety in their movements amongst the positioning lights resembles a perfectly rehearsed, nimble-footed choreography, as if these huge planes dare to dance with each other.


Haneda Airplane Ballet is inspired by this image.  It can be heard in the quiet, frenetic mumbling that starts the work and the rupturing counterpoint between percussion and a virtual instrument built from violin samples that interrupts the opening mumbles.  The jet engines are referenced toward the end of the work with glissando whistles, pitch-shifted gongs, and suspended grainy violin samples that can be bent gradually up and down in pitch, like the whining engines transformed by Doeppler effect.


More generally, Max's memories of Japan, where he lived and studied for nearly a year, are found in the middle of the work, where 5 gong strikes are heard, a reference to the resounding temple bells found throughout Japan.  These ringing gongs sound against a field recording, taken in Singapore.  Originally, we used a more pristine nature recording made in a German forest, but Max rejected it for being too pure.  "There need to be machines and people, maybe the sound of traffic in it, not just birds," he said.

Haneda Airplane Ballet
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