Program Note

Voluptuous Panic (2010)

  1. Escape Velocity

  2. Saltarello – Proxima Centauri

In Voluptuous Panic my goal was to translate the “euphoric vertigo” and “visceral excitement” of certain ilinx play activities that people engage in into a musical form. Roger Caillois, the noted French writer and sociologist, in his work "Man, Play and Games" (1961), identifies four basic types of play that humans regularly engage in: agon (pure competition), alea (chance) mimesis (role playing) and ilinx (whirlpool or vertigo). Caillois describes ilinx as “an attempt to destroy momentarily the stability of perception and inflict a kind of voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind.

The first movement of Voluptuous Panic, “Escape Velocity,” has many sources of inspiration: fast cars with loud motors, racing, the downhill ski race, NASA!s Vomit Comet – the training plane used to simulate zero gravity, g-force and the idea of trying to break through the earth!s gravitational field. The essential idea here is that of the music passing through a series of virtual mechanical gears that increase the velocity of the rhythm of the music.

The second movement, “Saltarello – Proxima Centauri” tries to capture the transported sensation resulting from fast folkloric dancing. The Medieval Italian Saltarello dance form, in particular, is the source of inspiration here, with its fast leaping melodic figures and the use of a ritornello. In keeping with the spirit of the first movement this dance takes place at a point somewhere beyond the earth!s gravitational field.