Candlelight : Kirsten Strom

flashes

Lights off.

1. A performer enters humming a Bb at any octave, bearing a lit candle. They come to stand at centre stage.

2. Once their position is reached, the humming is changed to a whistle. This signals the next performer to enter, humming the next partial in the overtone series at any octave, then changing to a whistle. They would come to stand on the right of the first performer.

3. The third performer would enter at the second performer’s timbral shift, humming the next partial at any octave and coming to stand on the first performer’s left, and so on, each performer alternating which side to stand on and forming an open circle towards the audience, the performers slightly facing inwards at the edges. Once established in their respective places, the performers should alternate freely and independently between humming and whistling.

4. Once the first five performers are positioned onstage, each onstage performer from then on is also to alternate freely between octaves on their respective pitch classes.

5. The eighth performer is to enter singing, introducing this as an alternating timbre.

The piece is to last as long as the candle is lit (preferably burning out naturally, but blown or snuffed out if necessary). If the candle extinguishes unexpectedly the performers are to switch suddenly to a shhhh sound, gradually growing silent from the last to enter to the first to enter.

Otherwise, the first performer should signal (seeing the candle burning low, or on their own initiative) by taking up a shhh sound that is carried in a wave through neighbouring performers to both edges of the open circle while the more central performers resume their singing, humming and whistling. The performers switch to a shhh sound and gradually fall silent, beginning with the last to enter and working backwards until only the first performer hums a fixed Bb, then switches to a shhh (here the candle would be extinguished) before complete silence.

Use as many performers as necessary, between 8 and 12.

Each initial timbral shift or entry should take place after about 4 seconds, except the first performer, who should take their time to reach the centre of the stage.

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