ae20—Night Chains-for Electric Cello and Digital Effects


ae20—Night Chains-for Electric Cello and Digital Effects

“‘Night Chains’ by Douglas Knehans, was like a Hitchcock soundtrack gone truly psycho: wildly inventive.”
— The Miami Herald (Apr 18, 1994)

night chains takes its title from the psycho-emotional and compositional narratives explored in the work. On the psycho-emotional level, the work is concerned with the conflicted worlds of dreams and actions, thoughts and desire, past and present. How these aspects of existence impact upon and influence each other in linked sequences of differing proportion and fluid hierarchy has its ephemeral manifestation for me in dreams and dreaming.

So on this level, night chains can be seen as the realization of this complex human experience of dreaming; the freely associative, but linked subjective worlds of thought, emotion and desire coupled with their ritual transformation through the competing but also freely associative realms of fear, frustration and denial. Aspects of this complex, dreamlike associative experience, then, are subject to a more fundamental distortion and transformation through the natural and systematic forces of erosion, destruction and ultimately death. The death of one state giving rise to the evolution of another. Certain states are more
associated with "good" dreams; other, perhaps more with so called "night terrors".

On a compositional level then, I was concerned to explore the transformation of materials through a range of devices including thematic distortion, elaboration and systematic, incremental destruction; competing and complementary extension of ideas into "strata", and the elaboration and amplification of such strata through distortion and destructive techniques.

Concomitantly, I drew on the evolutionary and elaborative devices commonly used in Western music to extend and create new, but related ideas. Therefore, the contrast and balance of destruction and generation were a primary technical concern and framework for a highly charged expressivity. The electronics used in coloring such expression were only generically specified, leaving a wealth of expressive choices open to the performer, while also clearly calling for certain broadly defined sonic worlds to be explored.

night chains was completed in New York City in March, 1991 and is dedicated to Jeffrey Krieger.

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