Shaken Not Stuttered is a free online resource demonstrating the extended techniques for strings in Andrew Norman’s orchestral and chamber works. The site provides high definition videos with excellent sound quality to catalogue the extended techniques created and/or used by Norman, primarily as a resource for performers, but also for the greater new music community and audience members to get a behind the scenes look at the sounds happening on stage.
Physicality is one of the striking qualities of Norman’s music, and he focuses on physical gesture and energy as primary to the performer. In an interview on Q2's Meet the Composer, he said:
For me, instrumental music is all about the combination of physical gesture and sonic event… There's a very strong physical gesture and it makes a very interesting musical sound… They're inseparable in a way, and I often think about these gestures in terms of the physical impact they're going to have, the visual impact.
In order to achieve these techniques, Norman often works one on one with performers to demonstrate on the viola, one of his primary instruments. However, a composer cannot always be available to work with every member of an ensemble, especially in an orchestral setting when rehearsal time is limited. As a way to address this problem, Norman and Lanzilotti decided to collaborate with videographer Stephen Taylor to create this resource in order to allow performers to have a more organic way of learning the techniques.
The main videos are mini master classes in which Norman describes his inspirations behind the techniques, gives a short explanation of how to achieve the specific sound he wants, and demonstrates on the viola. Lanzilotti then performs the techniques filmed from different angles so that the viewer may observe both hands, different nuances, and details in executing the technique. The review videos show only the notation and different close-up views of the techniques for further study.
Many of the extended techniques involve choices on the part of the performer. This element of choice is vital to the interpretation of Norman's music, especially in a piece like Play. In an interview for New Music Box Norman states:
...I really love seeing people make choices and taking risks on stage...to take a risk, to have a definite idea about the interpretation of a piece. ...To me, the heart and soul of written music is about creating something with enough depth and complexity, but also enough openness in it to allow for many different realizations. ...And that has also led me into really exploring this idea of human interaction in music. How can I open up that space on the written page for human beings to be human beings when they play music?
Examples of Works that Include Extended Techniques
Stulz's Mirror Canon uses only extended bow techniques, and is read upside down and backwards by the second player. From Jack's notes on the piece:
Player 2 flips the music upside down and reads everything backwards and in a physical inversion. Thus the material player 1 plays at the beginning will be mirrored by player 2 at the end (and vice versa). This piece was composed a la George Perec using the knights tour from chess as solved by the 18th century hoax chess automaton "the Turk."