We Are Not Alone

by Beth, Marc

Abstract (Summary)
We Are Not Alone is a programmatic work which lasts fourteen minutes. It is composed for flute/alto flute, oboe/English horn, Bb/bass clarinet, bassoon, horn, two C trumpets, two trombones, vibraphone, harp, two violins, viola, cello, soprano, and electronic sound effects. The first section explores technology and spacecraft, contrasting two distinct musical structures. The first is an aleatoric episode suggesting the interplay between small, maneuverable spacecraft and immense, daunting battleships. The second features a metered, theme-song-inspired adventure motive. These musical structures contrast in many ways, and comprise the core of the movement. The aleatoric episode has no clear tonality, while the adventure theme employs a deliberate tonal center. This sense of tonality diminishes as the section progresses. The second section focuses on the different roles in which alien life is portrayed in film, climaxing with a vocal song set in the fictional language of Klingon, a product of the Star Trek series. The soprano sings an original poem translated to Klingon with the assistance of Klingon-language expert Dr. d’Armond Spears and linguist Dr. Marc Okrand, creator of the official language. The diction of this highly guttural language requires the soprano to learn unique consonant and vowel production techniques. As such, it provides a significant technical challenge to the vocalist. To further enhance the other-worldly nature of the piece, the second section features extended instrumental techniques including key clicks and whispering through instruments. The electronic component serves primarily as a background texture, using various types of processing and synthesis to create sounds imitating space dust, engine noise, electronic bleeps, and alien chatter. These pre-recorded sounds are triggered live using Cycling ‘74’s Max/MSP program, an object-oriented graphical software environment. We Are Not Alone is the culmination of thirty years of science fiction appreciation. With respect that this material has done much to shape my musical aesthetic, especially regarding programmatic scoring, it is my intent to compose a cohesive piece that is both musically interesting as well as oddly familiar.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:klingon star trek science fiction sound effects space ship wars marc okrand


Date of Publication:05/02/2009

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