Serrat

for Alto Saxophone and Electronics


Premiered on June 4th, 2018 as part of the Stack/Overflow concert series at 4th Tap Brewery in Austin, TX by Sarah Hetrick.

I wrote this piece while in residence at the Can Serrat artists residency in El Bruc, a small town near Barcelona at the base of Montserrat, a chain of mountains that have great spiritual significance to the Catalan people. There’s a story in El Bruc of a drummer, who in the face of one of Napoleon’s massive armies wanted to help his fellow Catalan fighters in protecting the town. The militia turned him away, saying he was just a boy and couldn’t do anything against the French army. In anger, marched up to the mountain playing his drum. When he got to the base of the mountain, he found that the sound of his drum was echoing all over the place, making the French army think that the scrappy Catalan militia was a huge army lying in wait for them. These sounds instilled fear in the heart of the French generals, and deterred them from marching through El Bruc.

 

The idea of using certain tools to make yourself seem grander in stature than you are naturally is appealing to me, and how eventually we become beholden to those tools to live our lives. I’m specifically thinking about my own relationship with social media, and how easy it is to present myself as doing all of these exotic things and being happy all the time, when really I spend most of my time scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, never really seeing anything interesting but feeling like I need to do it anyways. The piece uses live electronics, a custom delay, to make the performer seem like 8 performers. However, the performer must also make decisions based on what they hear in the delay, making them at the same time enhanced by and reliant on the electronics.