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Staccato lightning : a work for choir (SATB) and three amplified classical guitars

by Cathy Applegate (2006)

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Work Overview

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.

Work Details

Year: 2006

Instrumentation: SATB choir, 3 amplified classical guitars.

Duration: 5 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: 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.


Performances of this work

Jul 07: International Guitar Festiva, at the Supreme Court Building, Darwin. Featuring Darwin Chorale.

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