Samuel Adams’ “Shade Studies”: The Marriage of Acoustic and Electronic Sound

Shade Studies is a brief and meditative work for solo piano and sine wave resonance, written in 2014 by the American composer, Samuel Adams (b. 1985). The piece sets up a haunting dialogue between the world of acoustic sound and ethereal electronic aftertones. In his program notes, the composer writes,

Shade Studies examines the counterpoint between the acoustic resonance of the piano and sine waves. The music is quiet and built of cadences, silences, and repeated gestures. As the work unfolds, the two resonance systems engage through masking and illumination, creating a brief exploration of musical ‘shade.’

Adams wrote Shade Studies for a 2015 concert celebrating the 80th birthday of Terry Riley, a pioneer of the minimalist movement. The opening bars suggest fragments of a distant revivalist hymn tune. The music unfolds in halting phrases in which we notice silence as much as sound. As in Ives’ The Unanswered Question, time becomes an eternal, flowing river.

Here is a recording by Sarah Cahill:


About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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