birth, death – obsidian sound sculptures, strings, and voice (2017)

This work was written in honor of the exhibition of Isamu Noguchi’s two sculptures Birth (1934) and Death (1934) being displayed together in the same gallery for the first time. The two obsidian sound sculptures used in birth, deathUntitled (1978) & Sounding Stone (1981)—were created by Noguchi to be played as instruments (see below). The string players should tune 1/6th tone flat to match the pitch of the stones, and in general all pitches should be tuned to the overtones of the stones. birth, death may be performed on other stone, metal, or glass objects with the fundamental of E and/or G for the first movement, and C-sharp for the second movement. The work is dedicated to Anne Grilk King.

Premiered February 5, 2017 at The Noguchi Museum, Long Island City, New York. Many thanks to The Noguchi Museum’s incredible staff for facilitating rehearsals and access to these unique sculptures.

Download the score.