Erst

2019-09-03T22:26:14Z (GMT) by Cat Hope
For five piece ensemble, bass synth and electronics.
Premiered at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. 5 September 2015.

An Erst is a term for the first swarm of bees. Ironically, it also means ‘long ago’ in old English - ironic because bee populations are dangerously low, a most likely consequence of matters such as the loss of flower meadows, mite attack, climate change, and the use of pesticides. Bees pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world.

This piece uses the patterns created by Erst’s as a score for the ensemble. Some are large clouds, others a small ones, depending on the country of origin and the health of bee populations. Drones are represented by a low sub tones throughout the work (in yellow). Like the bee populations themselves, these patterns fade in and out, sometimes hard to see or hear, in amongst the noise, until they disappear all together.

The piece is made up of five sections that re-organise on each iteration of the piece. The electronic part (blocks of colour) samples the instruments at predetermined times and plays them back in clouds. Spatialisation is a key component in the notation: colored panels represent the time for recording of each different instrument, which is then looped and played back and performed through a quadraphonic array. The piece also features a keyboard part, which runs direct to a subwoofer. The instrumental parts appear in a different order each time, and blend carefully between each section.