Every Instrument In This Room (2012) – Geoff Sheil

Instrumentation, 2 players:

  • Marimba
  • Vibraphone, and mixed percussion
  • Electronic playback

Composer’s Note:

Every Instrument In This Room (2012), for percussion and tape, was commissioned by The Current Resonance Duo. The use of fixed electronic media is sometimes restrictive for performers in terms of fixed tempo and synchronization, but in this case I took advantage of this element to write a piece which deals with the overwhelming presence of technology in our lives. Both live performers attempt to evolve and develop while being relentlessly controlled by an autocratic tape part.

– Geoff Sheil

The tape contains a voice taken from a 1956 informational video, “On Guard! The Story of SAGE.”  SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) was a series of large computers that monitored several radar fields during the cold war. The video is explaining the necessity for the high-tech (for the time) monitoring equipment and labels the constant emanating pulse as “the heartbeat of the computer.”  The program is “constantly monitoring,” “testing,” “pulsating,” and most importantly, “controlling.”  Though it was powerful, the SAGE computer system filled multiple rooms with its mass.  The control of technology in our lives today is impossible to ignore. Every Instrument In This Room shows a power struggle between humans and their technology. By the end of the piece, the winner is obvious.

– Sarah Brooks


Annotated by John Stapleton