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Alex Shapiro, composer email

ROCK MUSIC

a geo-electroacoustic piece
f
or concert wind band and prerecorded track.
And... rocks.

Composed by Alex Shapiro.
2016; Duration 4:15. Published by Activist Music (ASCAP).


Commissioned by Patrick Marsh Middle School 7th Grade Band in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin as part of its ComMission Possible series; Chris Gleason, fearless and inspired band director.

Grade 2.5 and beyond.
Way, way beyond!


score cover

Click here to listen! listen to ROCK MUSIC

The mix of the May 2016 live premiere by the Patrick Marsh Middle School 7th Grade Band, conducted by Chris Gleason.

ROCK MUSIC is currently available as a digital set of .pdf score and parts,
plus audio download.

The physical, print version of the score and parts will be available
from Hal Leonard winter 2016.


Click here to order from Activist Music ORDER ROCK MUSIC

ROCK MUSIC performance
Parker Bixby conducting ROCK MUSIC at University of Montana, Nov. 2016.

ROCK MUSIC instrumentation

 

Click below to watch the video of
the Patrick Marsh Middle School 7th Grade Band
in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin conducted by Chris Gleason,
performing the May 10, 2016 premiere of ROCK MUSIC:

 

The San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands archipelago, carved from glaciers 15,000 years ago,
with the glacial volcano Mt. Baker looming 60 miles east

QUICK LINKS

 
 
 

Alex works as fox naps
A red fox naps as the composer finishes ROCK MUSIC in front of their shared rocks

THE PROGRAM NOTE

Music doesn't have to be experienced as an element separate from the rest of our daily lives. It's as much part of our world as the ground on which we walk, and composing ROCK MUSIC was the perfect opportunity to make this point.

I asked the students of Patrick Marsh Middle School to venture out into their neighborhoods, find a pair of rocks, discover sounds that can be coaxed from them, and record the results. My inbox was soon filled with nearly 100 mp3s sporting a stunning variety of geological sonic creativity! Many of those sounds are the basis of the accompaniment audio track over which ROCK MUSIC is composed.

In parallel to this holistic vision, band director Chris Gleason invited a geologist from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey to give a talk to the band students. Brandishing a 3D map of Wisconsin that displayed the state's varying terrain, she spoke of the glaciers that transformed the landscapes of Sun Prairie, WI— and, San Juan Island, WA— 15,000 years ago. The students then made video reports that paired their newfound knowledge of local geology with their individual recipes for eliciting sounds from rocks.

In this geo-electroacoustic piece, the music slowly crawls, melts, and scrapes over a sonic landscape in random, irregular ways: much as the glaciers carved the world we know.

Alex Shapiro
San Juan Island, WA
March 2016

rocky cove
A rocky San Juan Island cove

sea star
A purple sea star splayed on exposed tidepool rocks

river otters
A family of river otters lives in this rocky cove in front of the composer's home

THE CONDUCTOR SCORE
(email Alex for access code )

PERUSAL ONLY; not for performance or duplication.

.pdf file of the TRANSPOSED CONDUCTOR SCORE,

9 x 12; 24 pages including cover and notes.

perusal score, 9 x 12

Harbor seal
A harbor seal appears comically grounded atop a rock in the Haro Strait

quail
A male quail uses a rock as his lookout

Two foxes
Two island foxes prowl the rocks in front of the composer's home each evening

 

PROGRAM NOTE for download Program note

Program Note

Orcas
A view out the composer's window of four Orca whales
lolling by the rocks that border the Salish Sea

 

PROGRAM BIO for Alex Shapiro Photo and bio

Alex Shapiro bio and photos

deer
Two Canadian Black-tailed deer enjoy the rocky crags of the ribbon chert
that surrounds the composer's home

Turkey vultures
A pair of turkey vultures amidst the rocks of San Juan Island

PERFORMANCE NOTES

ROCK MUSIC is possibly the very first geo-electroacoustic minimalist band piece: it's largely devoid of melody, and of rhythm. It's conceptual and atmospheric, using textures of instruments, voices, and rocks to weave a wind band into a piece of sonic fabric stretched across linear time.

Every player has merely a few detached instrumental notes in their part, each of which contributes to the overall texture of the score. Musicians are tasked with fully concentrating on the quality of those few notes and how they interact with the sounds around them: a sonic environmental awareness. Vocal effect-enhanced humming, pitch bending, improvised and notated percussion textures with two rocks, and subtle floor rumbling ensure that the musicians have something to contribute even when not playing traditionally.

It's an experiment, really: how can we encourage people to HEAR, to CARE about hearing, and to FOCUS on something that's rather still and nearly uneventful, lacking grooves and an obvious melody? It took the planet's glaciers thousands of years to form the landscape we know. This piece only takes four minutes.

NOTES ABOUT THE ROCKS:

Ask each musician to go outside, and find two rocks of any kind. The rocks should be bigger than pebbles, but no larger than four inches or so in diameter, to comfortably fit in the hands. Random rock playing is notated by a varied pattern of dots within a box, followed by a solid line indicating event duration. Sparseness is preferred, as opposed to a constant clicking or a discernible pulse, except where a specific rhythm is indicated with crosshead notes. At bar 115, the band drops their rocks to the floor in a cascading pattern. The drop should be from no higher than a chair seat bottom. It is assumed that the rehearsal and performance spaces have hard floors, but if on carpet, have each player place something flat and hard on the floor next to them that will be similarly resonant to a hard floor when the rocks are dropped: a hard cover book, a small wooden board, etc.

Ask the musicians to initially refrain from being very active with the improvisational rock playing at the beginning of the piece. More activity can start to build at measure 28.

ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCE GUIDANCE:

Attention to dynamics— notably, the need to play quietly and subtly— will result in the most musical performance.

All humming is notated in the same transposition as the instrument the hummer plays.

ROCK MUSIC is a piece that can span virtually all capability levels, and work musically for ensembles of any age, whether musicians are at a Grade 2, or Grade 6 playing ability. Educationally, this has the potential to be a superb opportunity for the musicians to:

• Listen to and improve their intonation; 
• Develop their breath control;
• Hone the ability to play quietly while controlling pitch and volume;
• Heighten listening skills and focus;
• Heighten awareness of alternative sounds;
• Develop patience, in a world of hyper-everything!

ROCK MUSIC offers a different view as to what music— especially band music— can be, through a piece without an apparent melody or pulse. Possibly the very first geo-electroacoustic minimalist wind band work, it merges the realms of performance and environmental art.

INTERMEDIA NOTES:

If desired, emotionally stimulating photos or video of rocks, glacial ice, calving or flow could be projected in the background. Alex Shapiro has many appropriate photographs that she is pleased to make available, some of which can be seen on this page.

Ensembles are encouraged to use this piece as a platform for explorations into the geology of their area, and to expand those observations to global climate changes and the effects that the melting glaciers are having across the planet. Playing music using rocks found on the ground at their feet may lead to being a more conscious citizen of the Earth!

fox
A black fox sleeps atop a rock on San Juan Island

 

Here's something VERY helpful: a complete guide to the software and hardware setup for your band room and performance venue.

pdf of tech guide

wild mink
A mink scrambles along the rocky shoreline in front of the composer's home

INTRODUCING SOME OF THE
FIRST ROCK VIRTUOSI!

Hear from students of the Patrick Marsh Middle School 7th Grade Band about their geological findings, and how they created their original rock sounds that Ms. Shapiro then used in the accompaniment track:

 

Rock thanks

rock music message
A geological thank you message to Alex,
from the band at Patrick Marsh Middle School!

The San Juan Islands
A view of the San Juan Islands, created by glacial movement

ADDITIONAL READING

WASBE World
WASBE World

Alex has written an extensive two-part article about electroacoustic band music and the uses of multimedia in the concert world. The essay, titled The e-Frontier: Music, Multimedia, Education, and Audiences in the Digital World echoes the presentations she gave at The 2013 Midwest Clinic and the 2014 TMEA convention, and appears in the June and September 2014 issues of the magazine of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, WASBE World. The pdf is offered here with the very kind permission of the organization.

Click here for the full .pdf file readThe e-Frontier

Sucia rock formation
A rock wall formation on Sucia Island appears as a face

THE CONTACT INFO

The VERY best way to reach Alex is through email, by clicking here Email Alex!

Email Alex!

You can also leave a voice message or a fax at:
(270) 916-0093, and she'll return your call.

Call Alex!

You can email Alex's agent Mark Walker by clicking here:

Email Mark!

You can reach Mark Walker by phone at
(318) 381-3560.

Call Mark!

You can visit the Composers and Schools in Concert website by clicking here:

Visit CSIC!

Alex Shapiro at the Hal Leonard Booth at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, December 2014. There's a lot more Shapiro band music to hear!

Head on over to THIS PAGE for an overview of Alex's wind band pieces. You can listen to each one, read all about it via a link, and if desired, request a free pdf perusal score. Have fun!

Bald eagles
A Bald eagle lands on a San Juan Island rock the mating pair sits atop each day

 

The photos throughout this page reflect the rocks and their inhabitants in the San Juan Islands where Alex Shapiro lives. You can see more of what's on the other side of her lens, by clicking over to Alex's blog, Notes from the Kelp, here Alex's blog

Alex the photographer
The composer at the rocky shoreline that is her front yard


Home
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You're here
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Purchase

 

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