Centre Bridge (dark river)

Frances White

About this work:
Centre Bridge is one of several bridges that cross the Delaware river, connecting New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Its ends are located in Stockton, N.J., and Solebury Township, P.A. The surface of the bridge is a metal grating, and as cars move across it, they generate singing tones that rise and fall. Centre Bridge (dark river) is the second piece that I've written about this bridge. In both pieces, I made recordings of the traffic on it, and then used what I heard to shape the pitches and timing of the music. In Centre Bridge (dark river), I particularly wanted to address the transforming power of the bridge. When you're walking across it, you really are transported to a different world: not on land, or in the air, or in the water, but a place somehow suspended between all of these different realities. The bridge transforms the sound of traffic into a kind of music: into something beautiful and almost sentient. And when you are back on land, your hearing is changed: when cars pass by on the street, you still hear in their sounds the singing of the cars on the bridge. The "dark river" of the title is, of course, the Delaware. When I went to make the recordings for this piece, it was just after a series of heavy rains. The river was very high and forceful, and this made it seem dark and even frightening. And yet, to me, there is something in its eternal presence that is always deeply comforting. Centre Bridge (dark river) was commissioned by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
Year composed: 2001
Duration: 00:12:00
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Other Combinations, 2-5 players
Instrumentation: 2 Violin, 1 Viola, 1 Cello, 1 Double bass, 1 Prerecorded Sound (Tape/CD/Other)
Instrumentation notes: This piece is for string quintet and electronic sound (played back on CD). There is also a version of this piece available for string orchestra.

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