Figures (1979) Work for 42 - 105 Guitarists. Reissue.
Domino Figures has been widely performed since it was composed in 1979,
including a television production with 105 guitarists, made to celebrate
the 5th aniverssary of Denmark's TV2 - a record-breaking performances
that found its way into the Guiness book of records.
Essentially, this piece is a strict canon constructed around 97 different
The performers sit in a semicircle, and each musical figure is passed
around this semicircle in a kind of slow chain reaction similar to that
of falling dominoes by means of a unique system of visual cues.
The guitarist on the audience's extreme left begins playing the first
figure, signaling the player to his left by dipping the neck of his
guitar slightly as he begins.
The second player then waits one beat after receiving this signal before
beginning the same figure and signaling the player to his left.
In this way the musical figure is sent around the semicircle, each guitarist
beginning one beat after the player to his immediate right.
Any given figure reaches the last guitarist about 36 seconds after the
first guitarist has set the new figure moving around the semicircle,
and these new figures are combined with previous figures while they
are in the process of replacing them.
effect not usually associated with the guitar is created by the large
number of guitarists performing the same figure in different tempi. Massive,
sustained, almost choral textures are produced, and these textures evolve
and change slowly, creating a spatial effect as elements gradually move
from one side of the semicircle to the other.
The extreme spatial effect created by the high number of guitarplayers,
can be seen as an exploration of the same effect, created by
Alvin Lucier in his piece 'I am sitting in a room' Furthermore, the piece
can be viewed as a vital experiment inacoustic filtering,
resulting in a blurring of the acustic instruments.