Different Ghosts

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This work for solo percussionist, tape with synthesized sounds, and wind ensemble with five assistant percussionists was commissioned by Portland State University, for percussionist Joel Bluestone. The tape part contains “ghost sounds” that mimic the real percussion sounds heard in the ensemble and played by the soloist, as well as “voices” and other supernatural effects. These ghost sounds on the tape are notated in the score and parts in cue notes that are 75% of the size of the music which is to be played live. All taped sounds that are to be mimed are also identified by boxed names in the score. When the soloist, or any other player has “ghost notes,” in his or her part, and there are no full-size notes to be played at that time, it is expected that the player will “mime” these notes silently on his or her instrument in a visible, theatrical manner. In the solo percussion part, there are often several “ghost effects” happening at once. If there are full-sized notes, they must be played, however if free, the player may choose which instrument to mime the part on. That is, if it is a “ghost xylophone,” the solo percussionist could choose to mime it on the vibraphone, or even on the woodblocks. The tone should be cartoonish, wild, funny, but always with a serious undercurrent. Try to vary the moods of the miming and the actual playing as much as possible to create the mood of a haunted house or a camp silent horror film soundtrack. If at all possible, the speakers should be concealed, but monitors need to be provided near the conductor and soloist which are audible in the wind ensemble.

Selected performances of Different Ghosts

Premiere and three other performances: March 25-27, 1992, Joel Bluestone, percussion, Portland State University Wind Ensemble, Portland, OR

© John Carbon 2015