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Alex Shapiro, composer email

 

MASKED

for symphonic wind band
and pre-recorded soundscape.

From the symphony, SUSPENDED.

Composed by Alex Shapiro.

Grade 4+ and beyond.


2021. Duration ca. 5:00.
Published by Activist Music LLC (ASCAP).

Commissioned by Kappa Kappa Psi, National Band Fraternity, and Tau Beta Sigma, National Band Sorority, for the 2021 National Intercollegiate Band.

Premiered July 13, 2021 at the DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dr. Cynthia Johnston Turner, conductor.



score cover

 

MASKED is currently available as a digital set of .pdf score and parts. Print sets will become available in the latter part of 2022.

 

Click here to order from Activist Music ORDER MASKED

 

Full set: $200.
Score only: $30.



 

 

LICENSES INCLUDED:

 

Synchronization and mechanical rights are included free of charge for music educators and non-profit ensembles wishing to create a virtual recording and video of this piece, subject to written approval from Ms. Shapiro prior to publicly posting the media.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

 

 

QUICK LINKS

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

 

 

 

MASKED: RECORDING

 

Click here to listen:

Choose either the .mp3 or .WAV (better!).

 

.mp3

 

.WAV

MASKED
(a stand-alone work that is also the third movement of SUSPENDED):

MASKED: low res
MASKED: hi res

Listen to the full symphony:
SUSPENDED

download, low res
download, hi-res

 

Premiere recording by the National Intercollegiate Band, conducted by Dr. Cynthia Johnston Turner; live at the DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids, WI. July 13, 2021.


   

 

 

 

Photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

 

MASKED instrumentation

 

 

 

 

MASKED: PERUSAL SCORE
(email Alex for access code)

Not for performance or duplication.

 

.pdf file of the TRANSPOSED CONDUCTOR SCORE

9 x 12; 29 pages


 

CONDUCTOR SCORE


 

perusal score

 

 


 

Photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

 

 

 

 

PROGRAM NOTE

 

 

Comically macabre, MASKED is designed in the exact form of a Classical Minuet and Trio waltz, though the music—a whimsical if somewhat demented masked ball (or, balls, in this case)—bears little connection to that of Mozart or Haydn. The piece was composed as the third movement of a symphony for winds, percussion, and pre-recorded soundscape titled SUSPENDED. Historically, third movement Minuets gave way to the joke-like Scherzo, and the Trio section in MASKED tips its hat to formal waltzes of the past, flanked by a laugh track!

 

 

PROGRAM BIO for Alex Shapiro



Alex Shapiro bio and photos

 

 

 

Photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

 

 

 

PERFORMANCE NOTES

 

 

It is essential that the accompaniment track volume is set to be as loud as the ensemble.

 

The percussion section gets the spotlight in MASKED, as ping pong balls are used in several ways to create an other-worldly sound that appears at the beginning of the movement, and then in full force throughout the middle "Trio" section of this traditionally structured Minuet and Trio. If possible, the timpani and mallet instruments should be located as close to the lip of the stage as possible, rather than remain buried in the back row. This will help the effects be best heard, as well as seen: audiences will enjoy the visual element of the use of the ping pong balls. The choice of brightly, or neon-colored ping pong balls is ideal.

 

Experimentation is good: achieve a mix of contrasting timbres by using three different inverted cymbals placed atop three timpani: for example, a large China cymbal, a medium-large ride cymbal, and a medium-small splash cymbal.

 

Ping pong ball technique suggestions: Each percussionist will only need one ping pong ball, but in the event that it goes rogue and rolls off the cymbal or bar and onto the floor, it will be wise to keep several backup replacement balls very close at hand!

 

Drop the ball into an inverted cymbal atop the timpani from just a few inches above, for maximum control. When dropping it on a mallet instrument, keep the ball close to the bar and use fingers as a "cage" to prevent the ball from straying or falling off the note. Allow the ball to bounce as long as possible before capturing it for the next note. Player will need to carry two mallets in one hand and play with ping pong ball in the other. If during the TRIO section there is any difficulty maneuvering two mallets, players may opt for one mallet, and play the highest note in an octave.

 

Percussionist David Jarvis, who created the samples that Ms. Shapiro processed and incorporated into the accompaniment track for MASKED, made some helpful videos in which he demonstrates the ping pong ball effects and techniques. The videos can be found on the private MASKED materials delivery page of this website.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

 

 

 

WEBHEARSALS

Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, etc. are wonderful tools for affordably bringing Alex into your rehearsal, without having to book a plane flight! She has a great time coaching students, and the difference between their musicianship at the beginning of the session and by the time it ends, is remarkable.

Alex can tell the ensemble about how the piece was created and engage them in conversation, and even show them how her digital project studio works! It's also easy to arrange to have her say hello to the audience during a concert, via a custom video. Webhearsals connect musicians to the real person-- and the stories-- behind the notes on the music stands. Get in touch with Alex-- her contact info is at the bottom of this page.

To see some examples of webhearsals, and the view Alex loves to share from her desk, click here.

 

Skypehearsal

Alex was an early adopter of online "webhearsals"! Here's one from December 2012 with Alex in her studio on Washington's San Juan Island, and band director Mary Bauer and the Mt. Mansfield Union High School Band far across the continent in Vermont.

 

 

 

 

 

MORE INFO

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 multimedia presentations she has given at The 2013 Midwest Clinic, the 2014 TMEA convention, and countless other seminars. It appears in the June and September 2014 issues of the magazine of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, WASBE World, and the .pdf is offered here with the very kind permission of the organization.

 

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


 

 

Still life with gull and commemorative ping pong ball.

Where did the idea for the percussion effects in MASKED come from?

 

The genesis of the ping pong balls harkens back 40 years to 1982, when I was in my third year as a composition major at Manhattan School of Music. John Corigliano was one of our teachers (this was prior to him joining the Juilliard faculty), and he had assigned us all short orchestral pieces to write, for a reading session with a rag-tag group of students. I had two kittens at the time who loved to bat a ping pong ball across the wood floor of my Upper West Side apartment. Inspired by the sound, I composed a piece that made use of the natural acceleration of a dropped ball. The music opened with three separate ping pong balls released to the floor from about 4 feet up, one at a time by three percussionists, followed by a repeated one-note oboe entrance that mimicked the rhythm. Trite as this probably was, John and the rest of us got a laugh out of it, and to this day one of my dear violinist pals who was in that ensemble never lets me live it down!

 

So, fast-forward to 2020. I had yet to use a ping pong ball in any of my professional pieces, and I knew that I wanted to do so at some point— but not in a predictable way like that accelerando. When I was formulating my plan for this quirky Minuet and Trio movement, I had a sense that the humor of a ping pong ball might be perfect. I emailed my percussionist friend Dave Jarvis to ask him whether if a ping pong ball were dropped onto a timpani head, or a suspended cymbal, or vibes with and without pedal and motor, would it be audible to the audience if I was careful to orchestrate around it. I also asked to hire him to go into his studio and make some quick recordings of these sounds for me on his phone.

 

Dave was happy to do so, and not only did he record these specific sounds which I use in the track, but he also tossed in the extremely cool sound I use for the opening, of the ball dropped onto an inverted China cymbal atop a timpani head as the pedal is depressed. I decided to have the percussionists do this along with the track, for a psycho-acoustic effect during the performance. I mapped the sample of the ping pong ball on a bar of the vibes that I had asked Dave to make, across a number of pitches, to be able to trigger them as desired in my DAW. When I started playing around with note combinations and heard the delightful shimmering effect, I realized that it should be psycho-acoustic and that in addition to creating these three-note "fairy chords" I was coming up with that I then ran through processing for the track, I also would have my three mallet players playing them live without processing, for a deeper effect both sonically and visually.

 

I highly recommend that the timpani and all the mallet instruments are placed as close to the front of the stage as possible, so that the audience can SEE these players dropping the balls. For the premiere, I procured a bunch of neon/brightly colored ones, for the greatest visual effect! They're cheap to find online. I even had mine embossed with a unique graphic celebrating the 2021 NIB premiere, and gave a commemorative ball to every musician in the band. Fun!

 



 

 


 

Photo by Alex Shapiro.

Link to SUSPENDED
MASKED is also the third movement of Alex's symphony for winds, percussion and pre-recorded soundscape, SUSPENDED. Click here to read about the work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 (what's THAT?) at: (270) 916-0093, and she'll return your call.

 

Call Alex!

 

 

All photographs by Alex Shapiro (offering a good hint about where all this watery music comes from!).

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

 


     
Alex Shapiro
Alex Shapiro
 
     
Home
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