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Sine Waves for Samuel Beckett

Existentially precise music by Dave Seidel for an upcoming performance of Play

There are three characters in Samuel Beckett’s play Play, one for each of the three points on the lover’s triangle. Dave Seidel is preparing a score for a live performance of Beckett’s Play (something he announced back in January), and the first taste matches the characters’ geometry with a kind of existential precision. That is, the work is both intellectually diagrammatic and eternally open-ended. The piece, titled “Threefold Soliloquy,” is comprised of three sine waves — three groups of three, actually. They’re set to intersect in a generative manner, the waves overlapping, intersecting, creating resulting new patterns. No two performances of Seidel’s composition will play out the same way — well, not statistically speaking. Presumably these overlaps are intended to reference not only the varying connections between the characters, but the cacophony of voices with which the play opens and closes. At the start and end of Play, the three characters are directed to speak “altogether.” The script notes the intended effect: “Voices faint, largely unintelligible.”

For reference, here is a version of the play directed by Anthony Minghella back in 2001, featuring Alan Rickman, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Juliet Stevenson. Minghella elects to echo their voices to a purgatorial extreme afforded him by staging this for highly edited video rather than live performance:

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/mysterybear. More from Seidel at his website, mysterybear.net.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tag: / Comments: 4 ]

4 Comments

  1. Dave Seidel
    [ Posted May 17, 2015, at 2:31 pm ]

    Thanks for the write-up, Marc! Another detail you may find interesting: for the production, the plan is to run the Csound code for this piece in real time on a Raspberry Pi 2. Thus, it will indeed be a different “performance” every time. And it will do so without my interference (except to start it up at the beginning and stop it at the end).

    • Marc Weidenbaum
      [ Posted May 17, 2015, at 2:32 pm ]

      That is super cool. Let me know if it happens. When is the production?

  2. Dave Seidel
    [ Posted May 17, 2015, at 2:41 pm ]

    No dates yet. We’ll be working on it this summer, hopefully ready by fall/winter.

    • Marc Weidenbaum
      [ Posted May 17, 2015, at 2:50 pm ]

      Let us know.

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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