Elemental View Boasts Innovative New Instrument At EMPAC’s Concert Hall This October

“Elemental View,” an innovative orchestral piece performed by Ellen Fullman and The Living Earth Show, will host a performance on October 24 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s EMPAC Concert Hall.

Ellen Fullman and her Long String Instrument
Photo: Robert Szkolnicki

“Elemental View” is a work in six movements by pioneering composer Ellen Fullman. She wrote it for her Long String Instrument, which she designed in 1980. The instrument is installed in an industrial sized space with 136 strings, tuned and configured precisely for this piece. Through this instrument, the piece immerses the audience, akin to standing inside a giant musical instrument. The result is music both ancient and utterly new, environmental, and with a folk-like orchestral sound. Fullman performs the piece with The Living Earth Show, who hold a multi-season residency at EMPAC.

Fullman’s Long String Instrument boasts strings from wall-to-wall of the gymnasium-like space. She plucks, bows, and glides her fingers across the strings lengthwise to create sound, as it reverberates through the hall. As she walks along the strings, tones unfold at different rates in proportion to string length, creating a wave of different musical undertones. Further, the notation for the Long String Instrument consists of indications of both tempo and spacial movement for the artist, as specific harmonies and tones emerge at different locations along the length of the strings.

Invention and discovery are key features of Fullman’s display, as she shows off multiple custom tools to produce new sounds. Fullman designed and created the box bow, shovelette, and shoveler, which play three, six, or nine strings at once. Varying techniques with these tools produce ringing or closed sounds, as Fullman and her ensemble move through the instrument.

Ellen Fullman and The Living Earth Show perform Elemental View

In addition to the Long String Instrument, Fullman and The Living Earth Show include more traditional musical techniques. In movements such as “Environmental Memory,” the group uses Travis Andrew’s guitar, as well as Andy Meyerson’s native percussion skills on pieces of the Long String Instrument.

The presentation continues The Living Earth Show’s multi-season residency at EMPAC, showing engaging, large-scale art and working closely alongside artists. The Living Earth Show functions as a megaphone and canvas for the world’s most progressive artists, pushing the boundaries of technical and artistic possibility. The group amplifies voices, perspectives, and bodies previously excluded while showcasing exciting art to the community.

“Elemental View” will be performed at EMPAC Concert Hall on October 24 at 8PM. Tickets and more information are available here.

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