Pump Music is inspired by a series of hand pumps I encountered in campsites while traveling down the Mississippi River in 2009. I recorded this pump at a campsite called Wanagan’s Landing, which was the place we stayed after the very first day of paddling, on 1 August 2009. It’s maybe ten miles down from the headwaters of the Mississippi River, in northern Minnesota.
I was struck not only by the raucous noise of the pump, but also by the unearthly melody of the afterglow as the water recedes back into the earth when you stop pumping. The melody is not a simple overtone series as you might expect, but some curious phenomenon emerging from the length and diameter of the pipe that I don’t have enough physics to understand.
Pump Music was commissioned for the Guidonian Hand and Mary Rowell by Meet the Composer/Commissioning Music USA, and is dedicated to them with vast affection.
Pump Music is part of my ongoing project, A Book of Days. To hear the premiere performance (at Roulette on 1 June 2012), please visit August 1st.
Here is a score of the complete piece in pdf format.
After you click the donation button below, you’ll get all the necessary materials to perform the piece.
You can also read this blog post about 1 August 2009 of The River Project.