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Pendulum Music: A Cover Version was commissioned for Grotto Cover Version by Sean Lowry, at the University of Newcastle in 2014, a two night performance series in which artists were asked to respond to, or make a cover version of, a historically significant work of art or music.

Interpreting Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music (1968), in which microphones that swing from the ceiling feed back as thet pass the amplifier into which they are input, Normoyle added a second vocal microphone input to the amplifiers laying on the floor. The result was a composition for both extended voice and pendulm based feedback.


Pendulum Music by Steve Reich
For microphones, amplifiers speakers and Performers

Three, four or more microphones are suspended from the ceiling or from microphone boom stands by their cables so that they all hang the same distance from the floor and are all free to swing with a pendular motion. Each microphone’s cable is plugged into an amplifier which is connected to a loudspeaker. Each microphone hangs a few inches directly above or next to its speaker.

Before the performance each amplifier is turned up just to the point where feedback occurs when a mike swings directly over or next to its speaker, but no feedback occurs as the mike swings to either side. This level on each amplifier is then marked for future reference and all amplifiers are turned down. The performance begins with performers taking each mike, pulling it back like a swing, and then holding them while another performer turns up the amplifiers to their pre-marked levels.

Performers then release all the microphones in unison. Thus, a series of feedback pulses are heard which will either be all in unison or not depending on the gradually changing phase relations of the different mike pendulums. Performers then sit down to watch and listen to the process along with the rest of the audience. The piece is ended sometime shortly after all mikes have come to rest and are feeding back a continuous tone by performers pulling out the power cords of the amplifiers.

Steve Reich 8/68 revised 5/73