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POST-HUMAN

2012

string quartet & tape

Commissioned for the End of the World Show, 21.12.12

First Performed by Red Note, 12 December 2012, Edinburgh.

About the Piece

Post-Human was written for Red Note Ensemble’s ‘End of the World’ show, a one-off event performed to a limited audience of 100, which took place on 21st December 2012; the date that various sources of questionable authority prophesized as the day the world would end, according to a series of misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar. The show was part theatre, part installation and part concert.

Post-Human is scored for string quartet with prerecorded audio. The piece takes as its starting point a question posed to environmental writer Alan Weisman in an interview about his book The World without Us – a book that ponders what would become of the world were humans very suddenly to disappear.

The piece starts as a radio tunes through stations to finally settle upon the Weisman interview. At one point in the interview, the interviewer asks Weisman “What man-made stuff is going to last the longest?” This question and parts of Weisman’s answer feature throughout the piece. The audio recordings that the radio tunes through at the opening are all with the exception of one related to the idea of the end of the world, or to the date in question.

The recordings:

Ella Fitzgerald – Get Happy

Douglas Adams – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (TV series)

Rush – Temple of Syrinx, from 2112 (not directly related to the end of the world, but it seemed fitting given the date of the event)

Olivier Messiaen – Quartet for the End of Time

Peter Gabriel & Robert Fripp – Here Comes the Flood

The Doors – The End