NUDGE is music based on the sounds of vintage pinball machines. "Nudging" is a term indicating the pushing and pulling of a pinball table in order to influence the direction of the rolling ball.
Each percussionist is metaphorically playing a different pinball table — made by one of the "Big 3" manufacturers of classic machines (Gottlieb, Williams, Bally).
An unusual aspect of this piece is that each player is in a different tempo (120, 117 and 114 beats per minute). Every 20 seconds the beats synchronize. At these sync points, they often share a rhythm unique to one of the tables. The simultaneous tempos continue throughout and each player wears headphones with click tracks so as not to be thrown off tempo by the others.
The early parts of the piece are transcriptions of field recordings of the machines being played. The effect is of being in an old penny arcade. Later, the machines blend into each other with drum rolls suggesting buzzing solenoids.
The joining and separating of rhythms at 20 second "rhythmic nodes" creates the dramatic tension in the piece.
Custom made "Roller Boards," built by Chris DeMonterey, supply the requisite rolling sounds of a pinball in play. Accompanying movie is edited by Steve Mobia with excerpts from "Pinball 101," "Classic Game Room," and Mark Helms' "Pleasure Machines."
The piece was performed at the Community Music Center in San Francisco on October 27, 2012 on a concert of the Irregular Resolutions Composer Collective.
Percussion (L to R): Collin Boltz, Megan Shieh, Kevin Sakamoto
Roller Boards (L to R): Ed Mechem, Deborah Katz, Kathy Ketman
Much thanks to Michael Schiess from the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda CA for supplying some authentic bells.
Included in the movie are excepts from:
"Pleasure Machines - The History of Pinball"
Please contact me if you have any interest in performing this piece!