PERFORMANCE SPOTLIGHT:
SO PERCUSSION

“THE SO-CALLED LAWS OF NATURE, PART II”
by David Lang

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WATCH A DISCUSSION OF THE PIECE

about the music

David Lang:

"... I spent much of my undergraduate years studying math and chemistry and physics, hanging out with future scientists [and] eavesdropping on their conversations. I remember a particularly heated discussion about a quote from Wittgenstein: 'at the basis of the whole modern view of the world lies the illusion that the so-called laws of nature are the explanation of natural phenomena.' This quote rankled all us future scientists, as it implied that science can't explain the universe but can only offer mere descriptions of things observed.

"Over the years it occurred to me that this could be rephrased as a musical problem. Because music is made of proportions and numbers and formulas and patterns I always wonder what these numbers actually mean. Do the numbers themselves generate a certain structure, creating the context and the meaning and the form, or are they just the incidental by-products of other, deeper, more mysterious processes?

"My piece the so-called laws of nature tries to explore the 'meaning' of various processes and formulas. The individual parts are virtually identical -- the percussionists play identical patterns throughout, playing unison rhythms on subtly different instruments. Most of these instruments the performers are required to build themselves. Some of the patterns between the players are displaced in time, some are on instruments which have a kind of incoherence built into their sound. Does the music come out of the patterns, or in spite of them? I am not sure which, but I know that this piece is as close to becoming a scientist as I will ever get.

"The so-called laws of nature was commissioned by and is dedicated to So Percussion Group."


“The So-Called Laws of Nature” was recorded on So Percussion's 2004 self-titled release.

Click HERE to listen to a sample and
to purchase this recording online.


about the mallets

M134
Medium hard urethane. Dark and bold for xylophone and bells. Head = 1 1/4", L = 14 3/8"


about the composer

David Lang (b. 1957) is an eclectic composer whose music runs a stylistic gamut from the minimalist to the dramatic. Strict and intricate formal systems lie at the core of his work, which nonetheless embraces a wide range of musical gestures, references, and moods. Lang has collaborated on a number of works for the stage, including four operas and an oratorio.

Originally from Los Angeles, California, Lang studied composition at Stanford University in California, the University of Iowa, and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. His teachers included Martin Bresnick, Jacob Druckman, Roger Reynolds, Leland Smith, and Morton Subotnick. He also studied with Hans Werner Henze at the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. In 1987 Lang co-founded with Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe the Bang on a Can Festival in New York City. He served as composer-in-residence at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater in 1992.

Lang's music has been performed widely in the United States and Europe and at festivals including the BBC Proms, Munich Biennale, Settembre Musica, and Sidney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival. His works have been featured in the dance productions of La La La Human Steps, Nederlands Dans Theater, Royal Ballet, Twyla Tharp, and Susan Marshall, for which he received The New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Award in 1999. Other honors Lang has received are the BMW International Music Theater Prize, Kennedy Center/Friedheim Award, Revson Fellowship with the New York Philharmonic, Rome Prize, Village Voice OBIE Award, and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. Lang's music can be found on the Argo/Decca, BMG, Cantaloupe Music, Chandos, CRI, Point Music, and Sony Classical labels.

DAVID LANG WON A 2008 PULITZER PRIZE FOR MUSIC: Click here to read more.

 


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