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Violin and Electronics



Certain mixtures of polyelectrolytes can spontaneously form dense liquid droplets (called ""coacervates"") suspended in water (dilute phase). These liquid droplets are often filled with complex molecules, proteins, polymers, and nucleic acids. Coacervate formation has been suggested as a possible mechanism through which the first simple cells formed on earth (Abiogenesis). In composing Coacervate, I worked closely with violinist and chemical engineer Chelsea Edwards to create a sonic narrative from this chemistry. Distinct musical motives are inserted into dilute textures where they compartmentalize, chain together like charged polymers, and erupt into the beginnings of life.

In Coacervate, I used a variety of techniques to encode the chemistry of coacervation into music. I used several original software applications, including EmissionControl2, Prism-Dilate, and NMR-spectroscope. Coacervation occurs when polyanion and polycation polymers coalesce into a dense phase within a dilute solution (like liquid bubbles suspended in liquid). The sound material consists of field recordings from a chemical lab, recordings of the violin, and synthetic sounds based on chemical structure. One of the methods of synthesis involved using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy data to sonify the spectral characteristics of the polyelectrolytes. NMR data encodes the structure of the complex molecules by recording the resonant frequencies of the constituent carbon atoms. This is the state of the art method scientists use to understand molecular structure today. This new method of molecular sonification seems to be among the most direct translations from science to music as the molecules literally resonate like an instrument (albeit at a high frequency that must be transposed down many octaves).

Awards & Recognition:

1st Prize - Dorothy and Sherrill C. Corwin Awards 2021


Andrew Tholl
ICMC 2022 (University of Limerick)
in Limerick, Ireland

Chelsea Edwards
NoiseFloor 2022 (Staffordshire University)
in Stoke-on-Trent, England

Mary Kothman
SEAMUS 2022 National Conference (Western Michigan University)
in Kalamazoo, MI, USA

Hiromu Takano (live diffusion)
CCMC 2022 (Shokeikan Hall)
in Kyotanabe, Kyoto, Japan

Chelsea Edwards
Visiones Sonoras (Online)
in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico

Chelsea Edwards
2021 SCI National Student Conference (Online)

Chelsea Edwards
Synesthesias - New Music at UCSB 2: Graduates (Online)
in Santa Barbara, CA, USA

Chelsea Edwards
SEAMUS 2021 National Conference (Online)

Chelsea Edwards
ECM Concert (Online)
in Santa Barbara, CA, USA

Sample of Score

(contact me for the full score)