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Staccato lightning

Sheet Music: Performance Parts

Staccato lightning : a work for choir (SATB) and three amplified classical guitars / words and music by Cathy Applegate.

by Cathy Applegate (2006)

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  • Library Availability: This item is not available from the Australian Music Centre Library
  • Instrumentation: SATB choir, 3 amplified classical guitars.


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Every year in the run up to the monsoon, Darwin is treated to spectacular lightning storms. They are heralded by huge black anvil-shaped clouds that amass on the horizon before moving over the city.

Many locals move chairs out onto verandahs and sit watching the drama of the light show in the night sky. During these storms the sky is totally lit up every few seconds and the air feels completely electrified. The thunder varies from low threatening rumbles, to ear shattering crashes.

It is no wonder that lightning storms have been associated with various forms of spirituality in many cultures. The local indigenous people have depicted their lightning god in magnificent rock art at Kakadu.

Staccato lightning is a cloud to ground lightning discharge which appears as a bright, short duration stroke, often with considerable branching.

Published by: Australian Music Centre — 1 set of 3 performance parts (8p. -- B4 (portrait))

Difficulty: Advanced

Duration: 5 mins

Commissioned by Darwin Chorale.

First performance by Darwin Chorale — Jul 07. International Guitar Festiva, at the Supreme Court Building, Darwin

In this piece I have used the detached note quality of the guitar along with a special technique called Bartok pizzicato in which the player picks the string up between the fingers allowing it to slap back against the fingerboard. I have used this effect in a syncopated rhythm over the top of a baseline driving rhythm in order to try to capture some of the excitement, drama and unpredictability of the Darwin lightning storms.

Typeset edition.

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