sturzstrom has been composed as ‘a landslide event for voices’ meaning the work attempts to depict landmass movement and geological process as found along the ‘Jurassic Coast’ of East Devon and Dorset. Naturally, this depiction is not a scientific reconstruction of these processes in sound; rather, an imaginative response to these forces and outcomes as contrived in the composer’s imagination and amplified by the individual contributions of the performers.
Part of the Coastal Voices Project in Dorset and east Devon, sturzstrom has no famous participants. It’s a vocal work I stumbled across while reading the blog 5against4.com and is one that expresses – in the words of the composer, Marc Yeats – “the formation and geology of the Jurassic coast concentrating on the phenomina of landslips, mudslides and coastal erosion”. I’m sure we can all agree it’s been awhile since we heard one of those. The piece was made using nothing but vocals from community choirs and pebbles for percussion but it was no simple affair. Geologists were offered creative input, while – not wanting to limit the music to conventional notation – Yeats created a variety of signs and symbols for the vocalists to learn and interpret (looking at the score feels more like a maths exam than a piece of music). It certainly sounds different: the volley of shrieks and bellows have a feral quality to them and create genuine excitement. At the same time, crescendos can disappear into whispers just as quickly.
Tim Jonze On Shuffle … Experimental music | The Guardian | 30th June 2012