All notes with the topic Projects | Notes on Looking

Andrew Choate on Green Umbrella

The Sō percussion ensemble originally commissioned David Lang’s “the so-called laws of nature” in 2002, and their physical familiarity with this elaborate composition made watching their performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall intensely visually captivating. The piece is divided into three sections, and the four performers gradually moved further and further away from the audience to access their respective percussion stations. The first section focussed on the sound of mallets on a thin wood plank, and each performer looked like they were playing ping pong with themselves, bouncing sounds back and forth on the plank. A syncing and de-syncing of rotating patterns gave me the impression of the sound of corrugation, or a jug full of water gurgling over. I found the actual tone of the mallet on the wood to be a semi-shrill clatter, like when you drop a long piece of wood, or a couple of 2x4s stacked poorly fall on their side. But that harshness dissipated almost instantly, lasting only for the duration of the split second of the strike. Because this music depends on the patterns and speed of the music, and less on variety of tone, hearing wood over and over again felt like listening to a kind of sawing, like something might break in half before it was over. Not knowing what was to come, I started imagining these patterns on different materials like rubber, cloth, metal, fur, bullets, bushes, ozone. And then the first part was over, and the musicians took a couple steps back, turned their bodies 90°, and started playing similar patterns on some sort of metallic tubes. I...