Synaesthesiac

SYNAESTHESIAC for orchestra (2.2.2.2  4.2.3.1  3 perc.  hp., pno., elec. gtr*  strings)

* 2 versions of Synaesthesiac exist – v. 1.0 with elec. guitar, and v. 2.0 without elec. guitar

duration: 10 minutes

Synaesthesiac represents my ideal for moving forward to the orchestra of the 21st century, and away from 19th century conventions.  The piece is scored for standard orchestra, with the addition of an amplified trio of electric guitar, harp and piano.  In an almost concerto grosso-like texture, the trios sound is meant to meld and blur into itself, with the orchestra as its accompaniment.  Fierce, colorful, delicate and kaleidoscopic, Synaesthesiac is the aural embodiment of sounds becoming colors, and colors becoming sound.


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Official Program Note for Synaesthesiac

syn·aes·the·sia:
1: a concomitant sensation; especially : a subjective sensation or image of a sense (as of color) other than the one (as of sound) being stimulated
2: the condition marked by the experience of such sensations

SYNAESTHESIAC is first concerned with the phenomenon of synaesthesia, in which two or more senses are somehow linked in the individual. In my case, I experience sound to color synaesthesia (and vice versa—color to sound synaesthesia). In simple terms, when I hear a sound, I see a corresponding color. When the sounds are organized and complex (as in an orchestra) the colors can become a raging kaleidoscope.

Beyond my own personal experience with synaesthesia, I believe that our culture as a whole, and the people who live in it have also become synaesthetic to some extent. With the inundation of pop culture, movies, music videos, video games, etc, sound and image have become inseparable in our society. People can’t help generating a series of visuals in their heads upon hearing instrumental music. People (especially the young) have become almost addicted to these frantic series of images with sound, needing it in every form of entertainment they observe or participate in. I call these people “Synaesthesiacs”, of whom I am proud to say I am one.

I don’t look at this phenomenon as a negative thing, but rather, as something to be embraced and celebrated. In my piece Synaesthesiac, I have married my own synaesthesia with this concept of “synaesthesiac”. The form of the piece is meant to be an aural roller-coaster ride of colors, images and emotions, much like you would get experiencing a recent movie or video game. I have incorporated our most popular modern-day instrument, the electric guitar, to weave a continuous thread throughout the ever-changing tapestry of the orchestra around it. The instrumentation of the piece centers around a core trio of harp, piano and electric guitar, of which the electric guitar is the focal point. The sounds of these three instruments are meant to blend and blur together, at times creating the sound of one huge stringed instrument. This trio is the silvery-white canvas (or screen if you like) on which the colors of the orchestra are painted.

There’s also a confluence of influences in Synaesthesiac—something we modern day composers have to deal with on a daily basis. There’s the obvious classical music influence, but there are also strong influences from pop/rock music (I am a guitarist after all), film, video games, music from many different time periods, including renaissance and baroque music, heavy metal (yes, heavy metal), and on and on. My music is the total synthesis of all of these things into something I can call my own.