The Weather Riots


The Weather Riots (2002)

(Samuel Vriezen)

Also known as Toccata IV, The Weather Riots was written for Number Night, which was part of Concerten Tot en Met, a concert series I organized dedicated to new and experimental chamber music in Amsterdam. The idea behind Number Night was that the notations invented by John Cage for his late works such as Music For... and the "number pieces" could be seen as defining a genre, similar to Mass, Fugue or Sonata Form, that can have stylistic meaning beyond Cage's own style and aesthetic interests. I asked six composers to write new pieces based on Cage's stopwatch notation, The Weather Riots being my own contribution.

The piece is written for a minimum of two and a maximum of a few thousand of high instruments, which may include flutes, clarinets, oboes, pianos, vibraphones, violins, etc. In The Weather Riots, each performer plays his/her own version of the same part which (s)he has prepared in advance, choosing for each 'time bracket' a number (1 to 6) of melodic fragments from a given collection of fragments. These can then be combined in many ways. Inevitably, there will be echoes or other relations of similarity between the parts. The fragment collections themselves change shape slowly over time, sometimes foregrounding certain contour types, sometimes certain harmonies, sometimes certain articulations, sometimes broadening scope, sometimes narrowing scope. They define the musical space that the performers each can articulate in their own way: a counterpoint of personalities.

A score for The Weather Riots can be found on my Scores page.

The harmony of The Weather Riots is based on so-called Block Designs, a special class of combinatorial structures, which were later studied more extensively by Tom Johnson. Here you can find a short text on the use of Block Designs and related technical considerations.

Three recordings are available from this page:

The ensemble performance at Moments Musicaux in Aarau, 2011
Download The Weather Riots (Aarau 2011)

A piano duo version by Dante Boon and Samuel Vriezen, Vienna, 2005
Download The Weather Riots (Piano Duo)

The world premiere performance in Amsterdam, 2002:
Download The Weather Riots (Number Night 2002)