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The transforming experience of “Metal Music” takes audiences inside the sounds of solid metal objects. Garth Paine and Simone Mancuso of B1 Duo morph these large impenetrable outer objects into intimate, fragile, rich, and bold timbres, texture, and musical forms. The composition and performance of this music is as much about the physical bodily sensation of sound as it is about the composed musical ideas.
“Metal Music” builds on Paine’s set of six Tibetan singing bowl robots (2014–2015), a work that has been performed and shown in the United States, Europe, and Australia. “Metal Music” also builds on the resonating cymbal ensemble created by Paine. Exciting the orchestral cymbals at their resonate frequencies by way of small actuators, Paine is able to perform the cymbal ensemble, generating rich textures and evolving music unlike the expected sounds derived from accepted performance practice. The rich frequency spectra of the cymbals interact with each other to make additional sounds within the performance space, filling the space with real and the virtual sound.
The project is a natural extension to the performance work of Simone Mancuso. He has performed John Cage’s masterworks Child of Tree and Branches around the globe, including at the Kennedy Center. Mancuso made six sets of Sixxen, a custom-built percussion instrument invented by Greek avant-garde composer/architect Iannis Xenakis, in order to perform Xenakis’s “Pleiades.” Furthermore, for the first time in the United States, Mancuso used a new metal instrument, the Nikophone, a microtonal instrument invented in Switzerland that consists of iron parallel pipe sections with twenty to twenty-five tongues of various sizes cut into the pipe, forming a random microtonal scale.
“Metal Music” will feature essentially two forces: the electronics, metal robots, and resonating cymbals of Garth Paine and the percussion instruments of Simone Mancuso. Mancuso’s performance will utilize a huge selection of metal instruments divided into two main categories: nonstandard instruments (found objects such as steel plates) and standard metal percussion instruments. Several new metal instruments will be developed as part of this sonic arsenal.