Shadows’ from ‘Discourses of COVID’ | Tony Boorer


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SHADOWS’ from ‘Discourses of COVID’ for solo trombone, interactive electronics & electroacoustic trombone trio.

‘Shadows’ is the third movement from ‘Discourses of COVID’, a work commissioned by Alan Swain (Principal Bass Trombone – WNO) for his ‘EDGE Radio’ show after hearing my ‘Discourses of Brexit’. It is designed for live performance. ‘Discourses of COVID’ continues to explore the trombone with interactive technology and the spoken word. This movement came about after seeing the moving scenes of a crying nurse, struggling to control herself whilst trying to convey her experiences of COVID19. I had Bach’s violin Partita No. 2 in D minor playing in the background. After seeing the harsh reality of COVID19, the research process for this movement became an attempt to understand the implications of Coronavirus beyond the petty annoyances of an average day in COVID19 Lockdown.

All sounds (including the opening intro and the bird-like delayed flutters) come from live processing of the trombone sound -even the fixed media voice samples react to the articulations, dynamics and phrasing of the player, so each performance is hopefully unique.

Four of the five movements of ‘Discourses of COVID’ are for solo trombone. However, ‘Shadows’ uses a trombone quartet kitted out with electronic gadgets. Along with a score harmoniser made in Max/MSP and some live time-stretching, the three electroacoustic trombones create a texture for the acoustic solo trombone to play above.
Although designed for a live performance using surround-sound, this recording works on a phone. However, ideally, it should be listened to on headphones or speakers due to the live effects and ‘semi’ binaural sound design (an attempt to simulate the sound diffusion of a live performance in a stereo reduction).