Peter V. Swendsen


a sudden change in the consistency of snow (2006)

for alto sax, stereophonic tape, and video

a sudden change in the consistency of snow
is an interpretation of that kind of early-winter snow that is almost sleet or hail, changing all the time, sometimes softening enough to bestow the lovely winter quiet that exists when everything is covered and dampened with snow, but other times quite hard and sharp and percussive as it bounces on frozen surfaces. As air and surface temperatures fluctuate, the falling water sometimes vacillates between textures in short spurts and sometimes slowly modulates in extended gestures. It can pound on your hood and resonate inside your head and then subdue its intensity to reveal a unique sonic spaciousness. Each element of the piece—saxophone, electronics, and video—traverses these continua of temperament, texture, precision, and expansiveness. As is the case with snow itself, stillness is rare and momentary up close, but very much present on the whole.

The piece was composed during the winter of 2005-06. Special thanks to Michael Straus, for whom the piece was composed, and who premiered it in March of 2006.

[studio recording on Allusions to Seasons and Weather; performance materials available upon request]

© 2016 pvs