The Delayed Man

For the concert, Nebula asked us to imagine a Renaissance composer teleported to contemporary Colorado. My imaginary composer stumbled into the strange, yet comforting confines of a recording studio. There a friendly engineer gave our composer a mic plugged into a delay unit. That perfect echo was entrancing. It facilitated familiar ideas like imitative counterpoint, dense texture, and an almost procedural approach, but it also opened up new possibilities and imposed new challenges. The composer recalled a very familiar melody, “L’homme arme” (from which the new piece received its title) and began writing for four musicians who were drawn into the studio by the composer’s experiments.

The piece explores delay’s possibilities in four sections. In the first section, the delay is used to create a hocketed version of the melody from harmonies played the ensemble. In the second section, the imitative possibilities of the delay serve as the primary subject. The third section switches to a slap-back delay giving the ensemble a new density and rhythmic push in Renaissance-inspired setting of the melody for all four instruments. For the fourth section, the original delay parameters return, but now the ensemble plays “L’homme arme” in a hocketed fashion while the resulting delays form a separate, second voice intertwining with them.

Lanier Sammons