ABOUT THE PIECE:
Most prevalent during the Great Depression, hobos were nomads who roamed the United States taking work wherever they could. In their extensive travels, hobos learned to leave notes for each other, giving information about places to camp, where to find a meal, or dangers that lay ahead. This unique Hobo Code was known to the brotherhood of freight train riders and used by all to keep the community of traveling workers safe, fed and in work.
Life as a hobo was difficult and dangerous. These vagabonds developed their own secret pictographic language to help other hobos to food, water and work or to direct them away from dangerous situations. The Hobo Code is a fascinating system of symbols understood among the hobo community. Because hobos weren't typically welcomed (and were often illiterate), messages left for others in the community had to be easy for hobos to read but look like little more than random markings to everyone else to maintain an element of secrecy. Scrawled in places where hobos were likely to convene, the purpose of the code was not only to help other hobos find what they needed, but to keep the entire lifestyle possible for everyone.
Each movement of this piece is based on one of these symbols and, just like those resourceful hobos, makes use of very limited materials. All activity is centered on a single bass drum. Other items utilized include steel plates, rubber balls, and a paper bag containing 3 lbs of loose buckshot.
ABOUT THE COMPOSER:
Steven Snowden creates music for a diverse array of settings including theater, dance, film, multimedia installations, and the concert stage. He has focused much of his recent work on interdisciplinary collaboration and remains active as a performer in both acoustic and electronic mediums. Raised in rural Southwest Missouri, Snowden began composition studies in 2002, received his Masters degree in composition at the University of Colorado and DMA at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a co-founder/director of the Fast Forward Austin new music organization and his works have been performed by many outstanding ensembles at numerous festivals and concert series across five continents.
He has recently received awards and fellowships from the Aspen Music Festival, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, the Austin Critics' Table, Copland House, ISCM World Music Days, Future Places Portugal, MACRO, IC 2013, The Mizzou New Music International Composers Festival and the ASCAP Morton Gould Awards among others. He was also the recipient of a 2012-2013 Fulbright Grant to Portugal in music composition/technology where he researched the augmentation of interactive motion tracking systems for use in large-scale interdisciplinary collaborations. He's currently a visiting professor and composer in residence at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.