“Carnival’s Quarrel with Lent '' was written for the slide whistle, a comic instrument that’s easy to play and well-suited for an ironic critique of chamber music. Four sequential pieces are recorded idiosyncratically to reflect different conceptual aims and changing socio-economic conditions.

I revive a jongleur figure in the opening and closing sections of the record, which take place in the skeletal remains of a public sphere. In these parts I execute a long glissando without blowing air into the whistle. (The music is constructed with the ambient energy resonating within the whistle’s expanding and contracting column of air.) Site is central to these recordings. I realized the first section on a street corner in Queens, NY, as the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic ebbed in June 2020. The whistle amplifies fireworks, near and far; passing cars and mobile sound systems; the rustling of foliage; and an expectant tension redolent with joy and fear. The companion glissando was recorded November 7 in Washington Square Park, just after the 2020 presidential election. The dominant sound here is noise, which pulls the glissando into sharper relief. There is a massive cacophony of voices, tenuously coincident in celebratory articulation in spite of vastly different interests and experiences. While the glissando lends a rising motion to the first piece, it falls here, deflating like a balloon and capturing my own ambivalent identification with the chaotic, jubilant affect that saturates the air.

Filtration is an ambivalent process in sound. A filter emphasizes particular frequencies, pulling these into the foreground, but filtration can also be considered in terms of attenuation. A filtering out. This elliptical quality of filters, in which negative space highlights the contours of a lens as much as the subject brought into focus, generates a multiplicity of meanings. These pieces are loosely inspired by an anecdote told by Akio Suzuki, in which his father plays a melody on the flute using only his fingers.

In the quintets, five voices converge and diverge as they sing through the microtonal range of the slide whistle, yielding a tapestry of beating tones. While each part is identical, the players proceed at their own pace, not unlike Morton Feldman’s “Two Pianos.” One quintet was recorded in spring quarantine, and the second en plein air during the winter.

released june 2021 by Edition Wandelweiser Records

group photo


1 glissando i
2 quintet i
3 quintet ii
4 glissando ii

composer: eli neuman-hammond
players: eli neuman-hammond (slide whistle); ella heron (slide whistle); sophia o’brien-udry (slide whistle); story ponvert (slide whistle); matthew tuggle (slide whistle)
recording, mixing: eli neuman-hammond
mastering: jack callahan
executive producer: antoine beuger
layout: daniel bechem, mess media, berlin
printed by: das druckhaus, korschenbroich

Available in US here. Orders outside the US can be made on the EWR website.

cover disk carnival

from glissando i

from quintet i

Score for "glissando"

glissando score

Score for "quintet i"

quintet i score

whistle on desk
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