Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra

A colleague pointed me to Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra by Alvin Lucier. Here is one of the performances available on the Internet.

The solo triangle player dampens the triangle with their hand while playing a fast rhytm. They’re exploring how the dampening and the location, speed and loudness of the tapping affect the sound of the triangle. To quote Alvin Lucier:

During the course of the performance, the acoustic characteristics of the folded metal bar are revealed.

I find it wonderful how so rich musical work can come out of so constrained setup. This piece keeps playing in my head.

The name of the piece comes from Luis Buñuel’s surrealist piece of writing Orchestration, which describes the roles of different instruments in an orchestra. A silver streetcar for the orchestra is of course the triangle. It’s a worthy read.


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