Composer: Christopher Swist
Instrument: Violin and Tape
Duration: 9 min.
Duality is an important element to the indigenous cultures of South America. The world is in balance between dual opposite elements: night and day, fire and water, sun and moon, land and sea. In December of 2005, I was in a museum of artwork from the Aztec, Inca, and Maya people in Rio de Janeiro. I was struck how Duality was conveyed by artistic contrast in shapes, colors and weaves. This piece focuses on opposite musical elements.
The first contrast is in instrumentation as the ancient violin is paired with a modern computer sequencer. Secondly, the form of the piece features dual sections as a slow rhapsodic section is followed by a steady percussive section of equal length. Finally, the pitch material in Duality rotates between a pair of 6-note pitch sets. Combined, these pitch sets form the full 12-tone aggregate.
Duality is a “hybrid” 12-tone piece in which the system is used to generate pitches that are not always used in sequence. The computer sequence was generated with Finale 2006 controlling a Kurzweil PCR-2 sound module. This was a 10-year technology jump for me as my earlier electro-acoustic pieces used Freestyle controlling a Korg O5R/W. This piece is dedicated to my wife and my violinist Marcia Lehninger. She premiered the work in Holyoke, Massachusetts on February 5, 2006.
Violin and Tape
About the composer +
In 1999, The Instrumentalist stated that Christopher Swist’s published marimba work “should become a part of contemporary four-mallet marimba repertoire.” Since then his compositions have been published and performed across the United States and Canada as well as in Europe, South America, China, and Australia. His first solo CD Whitewater, funded by the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music, was released to critical acclaim in 2001. Percussive Notes found the recording to have “musicality, interest, and excellent sound.” His Percussion Quartets No 1 and No 2 were featured on the 2008 Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão in Brazil. In 2012, The Bard Conservatory Orchestra premiered Swist’s orchestra piece Abaprima. TMI Arts Page reviewed the premier as having “joyous sound” and “a natural for the orchestra.” Abaprima was also performed in 2013 by The Louisville Orchestra.
In October 2013, his second solo CD, Duality, was released and contains 77-minutes of acoustic and electronic music. Like Whitewater, Duality has also gathered positive reviews on both Swist’s compositional technique and performance style. American Record Guide commented, “The stick work is good, with tight rolls, evenly gradual dynamic increases and decreases, and sharp accents on the ascending and descending motives.” Percussive Notes wrote of Swist’s “compositional range” and noted “Swist shows extreme aptitude and ease in performing all the keyboard instruments.” Percussive Notes also found the “recording quality is excellent” on Duality. Christopher learned recording engineering and sound design from his late father Larry Swist, an internationally acclaimed studio designer, recording engineer, and producer.
Professor Swist is Artist in Residence at Keene State College where he has taught music technology, percussion, composition, and music theory since 2003. He is also on faculty at Franklin Pierce University and has taught at Bennington College, The Hartt School, and Holyoke Community College. He was recently a clinician, soloist, and conductor in Peru for the Ministry of Culture and National Symphony in Lima. Swist was educated at SUNY-Buffalo and The Hartt School, holding two M.M. degrees in both performance and composition. His percussion teachers were Jan Williams, Tony Miranda, John Rowland, Ben Toth, Al Lepak, Glen Velez, Johnny Almendra, and Luiz D’Anunciação. His composition teachers were Jeffrey Stadelman, Stephen Gryc, Robert Carl, Ken Steen, and Ingram Marshall. Christopher is an active symphonic percussionist as well as a contemporary music advocate and often performs with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
Christopher Swist is the president for the New Hampshire / Maine Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. He is also the treasurer and a charter member of the Kappa Pi Chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda (national music honor society).
Christopher Swist is an artist for Sabian Cymbal Makers and Vater Percussion.
Front cover graphics and layout: Ronni Kot Wenzell
Photo: Christopher Swist
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
Copyright © Edition Svitzer