Nous-Apparatus [2012]

sextet [14’]

[piccolo, bass clarinet, trombone, percussion, violin, cello]

written for musikFabrik

performance history

10/27/2018 - Musikfabrik. WDR Funkhaus am Wallrafplatz. Cologne, Germany.

5/13/2012 - MusikfabrikEMPAC. Troy, NY

5/12/2012 - Musikfabrik. Harvard University. Cambridge, USA


"Timothy McCormack's Nous-Apparatus was [...] dense, loud, and harsh, thick glinting layers bleeding into one another. The sound was great, like living inside a giant, creaky hinge." - New England's Prospect: Yard Work, Matthew Guerrieri [ New Music Box ]

"Timothy McCormack's Nous-Apparatus had a larger scale with a wide and odd assortment of sounds [which] created a dark, mechanical world of science fiction proportions." -John Cage's inspiration reflected in musikFabrik's excellent program, Geraldine Freedman [ The Daily Gazette ]

program note

In Nous-Apparatus, three distinct musical "planes" are constantly being sluiced through one another. The ensemble acts as a refractor and a magnifier of the percussion, which is concisely divided into the first two of these planes [timpani drone | tam-tam screech]. The ever-present, slow and perhaps somewhat monotonous groaning of the superball upon the timpani is amplified by the bass clarinet, trombone and cello; the periodic, shrill tam-tam sounds are caught and splayed upward by the piccolo and violin. Occasionally, instruments in one plane suddenly jut upwards or fall downwards into the other plane; other times they meet in the middle. The third plane, a breath-plane, can be thought of as a net that has been cast over the criss-crossing low- and high-planes. The interaction of these sonic planes may suggest the laborious, arduous, wheezing movement of some very old, very slow, but very determined machine, its body barely able to contain the mass and stress of the grinding gears within. The movement from one to another [and back again] takes place at various speeds and rates and can be thought of as very slow, thick oceanic tides. However, the tides in the machine/apparatus do not simply move to and fro, but also up and down, side to side, within and without; they are three- [or four-?] dimensional. This machine, then, is perhaps more like an organism whose organs are churning, re-configuring and being pulled in every which way, testing the tensile strength of the fabric holding it all in place.