For most of us, climate change enters our lives primarily as news reports, and these are often framed as doom and gloom. Overwhelmed by a flood of dire warnings, we become numb, devoid of emotion, and powerless to act.
How can we change this? I was recently introduced to the field of climate psychology, and the work of Per Espen Stokness. He theorises that, if we frame the facts - of carbon emissions, rising sea levels - not as hopeless, but as encouragements to take small, positive steps, together, we can begin to move in the right direction.
Floods and Tears was born out of this idea of reframing. The opening ‘tears’ for solo piano are sampled live by the electronics and played back continuously throughout the piece. As the music unfolds, the tears are reframed as a lament, a call-to-action, an overpowering flood, a meditation, and a final state of joy - an embrace of earth and sea.
FLOODS AND TEARS for piano and electronics  - 11'30"
Written for Paola Rizzoli and the MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences, and premiered at Music of Reality on the 9th of March, 2018.
- Amplified Piano
- Optional: Electronics Performer/Live Sound Technician
- PC/Mac running Ableton Live (versions available for other DAWS upon request)
- Amplification: piano amplified in stereo, recommended a pair of AKG 414s placed close to the hammers
- Audio interface with one input and a minimum of 3 outputs, recommended 9+
- Sound system: minimum stereo, recommended 8 speakers in "French 8" format plus subwoofer
- Foldback monitor for the pianist
The Electronics for Floods and Tears are provided as an Ableton Live patch. Scenes are set up to be triggered at the appropriate time as notated in the score, either by the pianist, for example with a foot pedal, or by a live electronics performer. Synchronisation is achieved by listening - the pianist must listen to the cues in the electronics as shown in the score, and the electronics must be cued in time with the piano at the indicated times. See the Notes on Patch document for more information.
The pianist must familiarise themselves with the fixed-media elements of the electronics in order to understand the underlying rhythmic relationships. Rhythmic cues are provided at key moments, i.e. when a new electronic element enters the texture. For passages indicated as free time, the pianist has rhythmic flexibility, and is encouraged to play with a pronounced rubato. Opposite to this are passages marked as fixed time, where the pianist must precisely follow the pulse as set down by the electronics. Unless otherwise notated, cues are triggered at the beginning of a bar
The piece can be realised in stereo, or for larger sound systems employing live diffusion - the art of painting sound into space.
The piece can be performed with or without an electronics performer, but it is recommended to have one present during rehearsals in order to treat the piano amplification and Electronics tracks with appropriate EQ and the piano with appropriate reverb to match the acoustic of the room. When performing with a multichannel sound system, an electronics performer is necessary in order to diffuse the stereo Electronics into the space.
Download sample score pages or purchase the score below: