Riverrun Barry D. Truax

Riverrun creates a sound environment in which stasis and flux, solidity and movement co-exist in a dynamic balance. The corresponding metaphor is that of a river, always moving yet seemingly permanent. From the smallest rivulet to the fullest force of its mass, a river is formed from a collection of countless droplets and sources. So too with the sound in this composition which bases itself on the smallest possible ’unit’ of sound in order to create larger textures and masses. The title is the first word in James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. The fundamental paradox of granular synthesis — that the enormously rich and powerful textures it produces result from its being based on the most ’trivial’ grains of sound — suggested a metaphoric relation to the river whose power is based on the accumulation of countless ’powerless’ droplets of water. The opening section of the work portrays that accumulation, as individual ’droplets’ of sound gradually multiply into a powerful broad-band texture. The piece, I find, also captures some of the awe one feels in the presence of the overpowering force of such a body of water, whether in a perturbed or calm state, and as such it seems to create a different mode of listening than does conventional instrumental or electroacoustic music.

  • Year of composition: 1986
  • Genre: Electroacoustics
  • Format: Fixed media
  • Instrumentation: 4 or 8 computer-synthesized soundtracks
  • Software used: PODX system for sound synthesis and composition.
  • Duration of the submitted work: 20:00
  • Production: Sonic Research Studio, Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, British Columbia)
  • Awards received: Magisterium at the International Competition of Electroacoustic Music in Bourges, France, in 1991.
  • Premiere: October 1986, Riverrun was commissioned by the Music Section of the Biennale di Venezia with the financial assistance of the Canada Council, and was premiered at La Biennale in 1986 as part of the Nuova Atlantide project organized by Alvise Vidolin and Roberto Doati.
  • Disc publication: Riverrun is available on the Cambridge Street Records and Wergo CD Digital Soundscapes, CSR-CD 8701, and the GMEB CD Cultures Electroniques 6.

Linked project

  • CAP
    Allik, Amies, Appleton, Austin, Bach, Bartley, Belkin, Berg, Bonnier, Bouchard…
    314 tracks

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