cello with two C-strings [13’]

written for Séverine Ballon


further reading

outside of time | inside the sound [dissertation colloquium presented for the degree of PhD at Harvard University, May 6, 2019]

Dragging the Sound: The Locus of Substance in DRIFT MATTER for Solo Cello in New Music and Aesthetics in the 21st Century Vol. 9: Substance and Content in Music Today (Mahnkopf, Cox, Schurig editors). Published by Wolke Verlag. [August, 2014]

performance history

4/25/2020 - TJ Borden. The Bowerbird. Philadelphia, PA.

1/17/2019 - Severine BallonUltraschall Berlin: Festival für neue Musik. Heimathafen Neukölln. Berlin, Germany.

10/12/2018 - TJ Borden. UCSD. San Diego, CA.

9/29/2018 - TJ Borden. Harvard University. Cambridge, MA.

9/14/2018 - the [Switch~ Ensemble]TJ Borden, cello. Spectrum NYC. Brooklyn, NYC.

3/2/2018 - Severine BallonNUMU: Neue & Unentdeckte Musik. Baden, Switzerland.

12/4/2016 - Lester St. LouisGallery 456. New York, NY.

9/14/2016 - ELISION Ensemble [Séverine Ballon]. RMIT Gallery. Melbourne, Australia.

6/11/2015 - Ensemble Praesenz [Jan-Filip Tupa]. Galerie Schmidt&Handrup. Berlin, Germany.

6/10/2015 - Ensemble Praesenz [Jan-Filip Tupa]. Galerie Schmidt&Handrup. Cologne, Germany.

1/9/2015 - Séverine Ballon.  UC Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz, CA

9/3/2014 - Séverine Ballonunerhörte Music. BKA Theater. Berlin, Germany.

7/11/2014 - Kevin McFarland. New Orleans Museum of Art. New Orleans, LA.

11/24/2013 - Kevin McFarland. Wesleyan University. Middletown, CT

10/4/2013 - Séverine Ballon. Lyon Conservatory of Music and Dance. Lyon, France.

4/6/2013 - Séverine Ballon. Harvard University. Cambridge, MA.


program note

Much of my work treats sound as the inscription of physical, corporeal processes, such as the body’s confrontation with the instrument, or the friction between two types of materials against each other. Perhaps it is this focus on the movements and physicalities of acoustic objects that draws me time and again towards geologic processes as resonant metaphors for my work. Just as two tectonic plates might scrape over each other and birth a new mountain range, a cellist might drag her bow obliquely over the instrument’s strings and create a certain type of sound, one that is saturated with the energy of the physicality behind its creation. Accordingly, DRIFT MATTER uses the geologic process of glacial activity as a metaphor for how sound can be transformed and transferred upon the body of the cello. In geology, the term drift refers to all material, from large rocks to particulate sediment, that an advancing glacier has eroded off from its place of origin, transported elsewhere, and then deposited within a new ecology. This is how I understand the actions of the cellist in this piece, as well as the sound world itself: the bow is used to shape and transport sound from one zone of the instrument to another, from one degree of pressure to another, or from one state of tension to another, as if it were pieces of the earth itself being dragged across the land. The performer is in constant contact with the instrument, churning out noise like a glacier sheers off rock from a mountain side as it grinds past. This embodied, corporeal approach to sound production imbues the entire piece with a palpable sonic energy, ecstatic, granular, and earthen.