Echo Grey is a composition for four voices, feedback musical instruments, and tape part (which features the sounds of a broken image file). World premiere at Vancouver New Music with Andrea Young, Marina Hasselberg, Sharon Chohi Kim, Micaela Tobin, Michael Day, Braden Diotte, and Erin Gee in November 2016. It has also been performed at Open Space Gallery (Victoria), and Neworks (Calgary).
The mythological character Echo exists only as a shade, a reflection or bounce. Movement between words or utterance, the Echo’s mythological voice exceeds the signal itself and speaks to a deeper engagement with materiality. In Echo Grey, I composed a series of vocal patterns that emerge directly with breath as raw material, the movement of intake and exhalation made audible through mechanistic patterns that are impossible to perform perfectly. The choir’s collective attempt at mechanistically engaging with an impossible repetition eventually negates the signal: all that is left is the lungs and vocal vibrations of the individual who gasps, cries in defeat, and whoops in ecstasy. These human voices are simultaneously punctuated by the feedback of microphone and amplified instruments, and a tape track composed through process – a bouncing of data back and forth between visual and aural softwares that eventually results in nothing but glitched statements. This tape track is analogous to the squealing proximity of the sender to the receiver in the scored feedback parts, which is analogous to the back and forth of the breath of the singers as they perform. The colour grey in the work’s title is inspired by the back and forth motion of a 2HB pencil stroking endlessly across an empty pad of paper.