Written for and read at the 2014 So Percussion Summer Institute at Princeton University, by Eric Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting of So Percussion.
While on an extended bicycle trip through west Texas, I was caught in a sudden summer thunderstorm. In these storms, the temperature drops from 95 to 35 in a matter of minutes, the sky opens up, and hailstones descend from the sky onto the desert landscape. It was a surreal, beautiful, and slightly painful experience. From this experience, I created Desert Hail. In order to link this piece directly to the west Texas environment, I built a computer program that utilizes temperature data from the McDonald Observatory in west Texas. Using historical data, the software uses four sets of data (one data set for each season) that is then turned into 16-20 seconds of graphical notation that occur between the major sections of the piece. For each performance, one of the four graphical contours is updated to reflect the current season. For instance, in the summer, the software creates new graphical notation based on temperature data from the current summer weather in west Texas. Then, this new summer version replaces the original summer graphic in the score. All four graphical contours are then interpreted as rhythmic and dynamic values and can be heard in relation to each other as the rhythmic energy rises and falls with the temperature of the landscape. The temperature data is not a metaphor; rather it directly connects the auditory experience with the current natural energy of west Texas.
- Public Reading Concert at the 2014 So Percussion Summer Institute at Princeton University, by Eric Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting of So Percussion.