Piano étude No. 2 ‘tidal flow’

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This piece is derived from Long Term Ecological Research data of tides in Oyster, Virginia, United States, collected from 2010 to 2018. Daily measurements of high and low tides in meters are mapped and scaled to pitch regions of a piano, resulting in one pitch per day for each hand. The low tides are performed by the left hand; the high tides are performed by the right hand.
The following are some suggestions for the viewer/listener of this sonification:
1– During the first listening of the piece, focus on either the left hand or the right hand, and alternate the focus of the viewing/listening. 2– While looking at the date monitor in the video, listen for the highest and lowest pitches. 3– As the months go by, listen for the increasing/decreasing highest and lowest pitches that portray increases and decreases in the tides over time. 4– Suggestion/observation by John Porter: Watch how the low and high tides sometimes move in synchrony (representing wind events that push water into or out of the lagoon) and sometimes move further apart or closer together (representing astronomically-driven increases or decreases in tidal range).
While this version of the piece relies on purely electronic sounds (a MIDI instrument and Max MSP software), a new version for two pianists is possible at a slightly slower pace. The poetic intention is for a pianist to embody the tides.


Piano étude No. 2 ‘tidal flow’ (2019), 4 min.
(tide sonification and field recording)
Performance: Sounding Science: Listening for Coastal Futures, BIC, Machipongo, VA, September–December 2019


Music and Dance