One Arm Bandits is an an hour-long piece in four parts, scored for four cellists.
The cellists play only open strings, thus using only their right arms, never fingering the strings with the left hand. Recorded in Alvin Lucier's dining room, this work features cellists Tyler J. Borden, Laura Cetilia, Charles Curtis
and Judith Hamann
. Lucier oversaw and produced the recording, and approved the final takes.
"One Arm Bandits was an important project for Alvin Lucier. The idea for the piece goes back to conversations we first had in 2007 about the relationship between bow direction changes and shifts in phase. In the summer of 2015 we worked these ideas out in long sessions with Judith Hamann and T. J. Borden in New York, and the resulting piece received its first performances in Graz and Zürich in 2016. Alvin thought of One Arm Bandits as a radical statement, I think primarily in view of the severe reduction in material – even in the context of his music – and the physical restraint required in performance. The unusually long duration attests to Alvin's recognition that an expansion of scale was required in order to magnify acoustical details of such subtlety.
In November 2021 Alvin saw proofs for the CD artwork. He passed away at the age of 90 on December 1, before he could see the album in its final form. Work with Alvin was always joyful, stimulating, and surprising. We dedicate this recording to the continuing spirit of this remarkable musician and friend."
Alvin Lucier (1931-2021) was an American composer, considered a pioneer in contemporary music composition and performance, particularly of live electronic music (with the Sonic Arts Union) and in the field of electroacoustics. His work stands out for a compositional approach focused on acoustic phenomena. For example, Music for Solo Performer
(1965) amplifies a performer's brain waves to activate percussion instruments; I Am Sitting in a Room
(1970) revealed the frequencies at which a performance space resonates. As of the 1980s, his work re-established a link with instrumental composition and focused mainly on interference beats produced by two sounds with frequencies that are close to each other.
Alvin Lucier has collaborated with many musicians, dancers and interdisciplinary artists, including John Cage
, Pauline Oliveros
, Stephen O'Malley
, Judith Hamann
, Reinier Van Houdt
, Peter Behrendsen
, Mary Lucier and Merce Cunningham. His works are regularly performed by contemporary music ensembles around the world. Alvin Lucier is a major influence on a whole generation of avant-garde, rock and electronic musicians and composers (Oren Ambarchi
, Jim O'Rourke
, Sonic Youth
, Pan Sonic, Alexandre Saint-Onge
, Éric Létourneau, Nurse With Wound