Four Thousand Holes


Program Note

Four Thousand Holes (2010) is a rhythmically complex and technically demanding work for piano, mallet percussion, and ghostly electronic “auras” whose sounds were created by processing the acoustic instruments’ sonorities. The pitch material in Four Thousand Holes is drawn exclusively from Western music’s most basic elements: major and minor triads superimposed upon one another in multiple tempo streams, creating a beautiful yet continuously fracturing sound world—from splintering glass shards to nearly seismic disturbances. Adams writes about the piece: “In essence, Four Thousand Holes is a concerto. To begin I composed the score for the electronic tracks. . . . I took those recordings, time-stretched them, reversed their envelopes, and knit the reversed sounds together with their original decays. The resulting waves of sound I layered into ten independent tracks to create the virtual ‘orchestra.’ Next I composed the piano part, articulating the peaks of all the electronic tracks simultaneously—a feat of coordination that demands considerable virtuosity from the pianist. Finally I composed another multi-layered part for metallic percussion sounds that I think of as sparks emanating from the piano. In Four Thousand Holes, strong musical currents fall and rise, again and again, as points and lines are juxtaposed with heavy, hammered chords. The mix of the ‘live’ and electronic sounds blurs the distinction between musical figure and ground. . . . As we settle into the sound, we begin to hear long lines, counterpoint, and maybe even the occasional trace of a tune.” (Four Thousand Holes is available as a Cold Blue CD.

About John Luther Adams

John Luther Adams is a composer whose life and work are deeply rooted in the natural world. Adams was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his symphonic work…