Upon the Cello

for Synclavier

premiered 1987
Schoenberg Institute
University of Southern California

“Of the tape pieces, Upon the Cello stood out for an inventive, poetic use of the Synclavier and extended cello effects.”
–Gregg Wager, Los Angeles Times

Upon the Cello is a celebration of the first sound almost anyone makes on the cello. As a young child, I was fascinated with the mysterious, shrill, distant sounds that result from playing with a light bow close to the bridge (sul ponticello.) I returned to that sound many times as a composer, but found it impossible to consistently control until I gained access to electronic equipment. All the sounds in the piece are derived from two notes played on the cello, a low ponticello D (which is the first note heard in the piece, unaltered,) and a harmonic A, played with a martelé stroke. These two notes are gradually transformed with the Synclavier into a 14 minute piece.