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Colorful Clouds

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Spencer Arias

Spencer Arias

General Info

Year: 2020
Duration: c. 8:00
Difficulty: V-VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Just a Theory Press
Cost: Score and Parts - $20.00

Instrumentation (Flexible)

Indeterminate instrumentation


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

I love clouds. As children, we look up in the sky and imagine worlds that only exist in our imagination. Color is also something that I love, for nearly the same reason. As a composer, I don’t often get to explore visual color. Rather, we use the word color to represent different musical sounds and timbres. Performers are not often asked to think about visual color in this way, so I wanted to create a way for performers to explore color and recreate the experience of staring up at the clouds. They are responding, with their instrument, to what they see in the clouds and what they hear in the electronic portion, relating it to the shifts in color that occur over the course of the piece.

- Program Note by composer

This commission was made possible by the Steven R. Gerber Trust. Written for the Known Alley Ensemble.

- Program Note from score

Performance Notes

Colorful Clouds can be performed in a number of ways with the goals of adaptability, improvisation, revision, and color exploration. When performers play this piece, the goal is for them to find their own way of realizing it. The versions below are suggestions.

General: The piece is meant for people at any skill level of improvisation. If performers start with Version 2 but eventually find their way to Version 1, that is wonderful, but if the pre-composed gestures are what is most helpful, then go for it! There is no way to be wrong; just explore color and adapt as you learn more about yourself and the piece.

It was designed to be performed specifically for online video streaming platforms, but can be performed live. It can be performed by any number of performers, but it is important that each performer is listening to the way that they fit with the rest of the performers. Performers can assign themselves colors that appear throughout the video score or they can find ways to change their own tone color within their own instrumental capabilities. The performer should also feel free to step out when they feel it is appropriate. The performers should use the visual and audio score to realize their improvisation.

Version 1: Entirely improvised where the audio and visual media is the score. This means performers are responding to what they see and hear, revising as they see fit. There is no way to play this wrong, but the performer should spend time to think about how what they do represents the colors aurally and visually. Do darker colors mean additional texture? Does it mean dynamics? Do cloud textures affect musical texture? None of these questions are bad questions to ask, but there should be a sense of consistency as the piece progresses

Version 2a: Performers can use the gestural material I provided as a guide for their improvisation where they see colors based off of the video file and respond accordingly. This corresponds with specific visual components. As things turn a specific color, the gestures I provided can be used. Use these gestures only as a guide; they are not meant to be prescriptive.

Version 2b: Performers can write out their own gestures that are prepared ahead of time.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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