A Song for Sarah’s Birthday (1985)5:11
A Song for Sarah’s Birthday celebrates an event, both joyous and mysterious, that continues to reverberate through the lives of my wife Colleen and myself: the birth of our first child. The work — indeed a “song,” because it is sung — derives from three actual sound elements:
the mother’s voice
our daughter’s heartbeat (two weeks before birth)
a hiccup (two weeks after birth)
Pythagorean ratios influence the rhythmic and tonal design of this work. The three pitches (6:8:9) sung by Colleen were independently filtered with various harmonic partials separated out. These harmonics were, in turn, sequentially controlled in three series in a Pythagorean sequence, each pitch being shaped by its own envelope.
Near the work’s conclusion, as the unaltered sound of Sarah’s heartbeat grows on one side of the sound-stage, the unfiltered trichord of the mother’s voice responds via envelope follower on the other. Life resounds.
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