"... 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."
So-Called Laws of Nature” was recorded
on So Percussion's 2004 self-titled release.
HERE to listen to a sample and
this recording online.
Medium hard urethane. Dark and bold
for xylophone and bells.
Head = 1 1/4", L = 14 3/8"
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
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
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.
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