Pulsar [Variant II]

Seth Shafer

PSR B0531+21 is the technical designation of the centermost neutron star in the supernova colloquially referred to as the Crab Nebula. The star magnificently exploded on July 4, 1054 according to a number of ancient witnesses including the astronomers of the Song Dynasty, and the Anasazi located in present day Arizona and New Mexico.

The frequency of the electromagnetic beam emitted by the Crab Pulsar is just over 30 pulses per minute, and it is getting a few nanoseconds longer every day. The decelerating and asymmetrical pulse is a rich source for both pitch and rhythmic material.

This piece for solo trumpet explores two competing models of time: an unrelentingly fixed metrical time, and a type of static, or frozen time. Using echo and repetition as a point of departure, time is treated as a malleable material looking forward to the past and remembering the future.

Artist Statement

Seth Shafer

Seth Shafer is a native of Southern California with interests in pseudo-autonomous performance environments, interactive sound installations, data mining and sonification, and deep space exploration. His music was recently performed at the 2014 International Computer Music Conference in Athens, Greece, and in the 2013 Spoleto Due Mondi Festival in collaboration with South Korean director Brian Byungkoo Ahn. His sound installations have been shown at the Long Beach Museum of Art’s Pacific Standard Time Exhibit and the Long Beach Soundwalk. Seth has taught courses in music technology, audio production, and film scoring at Cypress College, and he holds a BM and MM from California State University, Long Beach. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in composition at the University of North Texas where he teaches music notation and works for the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia. Seth also performed on the 2014 Grammy winning album Vampires of the Modern City by Vampire Weekend.

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