Barry Truax - Riverrun

Duration: 19'45

re-mix for 8-channels

Riverrun (originally composed in 1986) creates a sound environment in which stasis and flux, solidity and movement co-exist in a dynamic balance. The corresponding metaphor is that of a river, always moving yet seemingly permanent. From the smallest rivulet to the fullest force of its mass, a river is formed from a collection of countless droplets and sources. So too with the sound in this composition which bases itself on the smallest possible 'unit' of sound in order to create larger textures and masses. The title is the first word in James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake.

The fundamental paradox of granular synthesis (the technique used to create this work) - that the enormously rich and powerful textures it produces result from its being based on the most 'trivial' grains of sound - suggested a metaphoric relation to the river whose power is based on the accumulation of countless 'powerless' droplets of water. The opening section of the work portrays that accumulation, as individual 'droplets' of sound gradually multiply into a powerful broadband texture. The piece, I find, also captures some of the awe one feels in the presence of the overpowering force of such a body of water, whether in a perturbed or calm state, and as such it seems to create a different mode of listening than does conventional instrumental or electroacoustic music.

Barry Truax
Phipps Concert Hall



Barry Truax