Pt. Reyes Seashore


Year Authored (or revised): 



Percussion Ensemble (12 players)

Duration (min): 


First Performance: 

April 6, 2012

The sound world of Pt. Reyes Seashore came to me in the winter of 2010-11 during a hike with my family in the Pt. Reyes National Seashore.  Pt. Reyes is a cape about 60 miles north of San Francisco.  It has the distinction of being connected to the San Andreas Fault, and, as a result, of moving northward at the rate of about 2 inches per year.  It is the home of numerous species of flora and fauna, and contains some of the most remarkable views of and access to the Pacific Ocean on the West Coast.

We had been hiking the McClures Beach Trial in the northern part of the park when we passed uphill of a magnificent passage of ocean pounding against the rocks and beach of the coast.  The sound—even at a distance of perhaps 500 yards—was incredibly memorable:  deep booms, echoes, churns…. it challenged me to think of any human produced or created sound that could equal its magnificence.  Experiencing the scene—the waves on the coast, the vast ocean behind it—I thought of the power of the ocean, and the humility of water. 

Pt. Reyes Seashore is based on the concept of waves resulting from the simplest ingredients.  The entire piece is wave shaped, beginning with the elements of the composite form, gradually accumulating mass and momentum, and finally dissipating into elemental forms.  The piece modulates from pitched to unpitched materials and back again over a span of approximately ten minutes.


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