As students and community members alike gradually filed into Dr. Roland Karnatz’s “Drone On” recital, a somewhat strange assortment of instruments greeted them. Sitting on a table at the front of Molnar Recital Hall Saturday night was a confusing arrangement of coke bottles, wires, and countless little microphones, not to mention the didgeridoo, bassoon and saxophone propped up beside all of this; it was definitely not what most people would consider typical concert instruments. But this recital was not a typical concert by any means.
Without any introduction, Karnatz began the recital with a piece he’d composed himself entitled “Theremin Spin.” It included a CymaScope, which is basically described as an electronic music modifier, and a theremin or an electronic instrument that consists of two antennae that sense the relative frequency of the performers hand, and this frequency is amplified through loud speakers.
The CymaScope was able to pick up on the frequencies emitted by the theremin and translate them into any type of sound or beat that the performer desired.
Freshman Jesse Blackstock described this song by saying, “It looked like he was pushing his hands through an invisible force field that somehow created music.”
Karnatz himself also pretended to be surprised by these seemingly magical sensations by adding his own dramatic flair and comedic facial expressions to the movements.
Before moving on into the second piece and the rest of the program, Karnatz took a moment to introduce himself, Ivy Haga, who accompanied many of the songs on bassoon, Sheri Oyan who also joined in on saxophone and Lisa Kinzer, who served as the piano accompanist for multiple pieces.
The night’s program was to include an assortment of modern musical pieces, many written by Karnatz himself.
After this quick introduction, the concert proceeded on into another piece written and performed by Karnatz.
With his clarinet hooked into the cyma system, Karnatz produced an eerie and electronic sounding song that gradually seemed to accelerate through the melody.
The third song entitled "Children’s Song #4," arranged by Karnatz but originally composed by Chick Corea, featured this same type of electronic sound that was heard in the previous two. However it also included Oyan on saxophone and featured a computer recorded accompaniment. Its adventurous melody had many dynamic fluctuations and included a trade-off between the saxophone and clarinet.
Following the first few songs, the pattern of electronically modified and non-traditional concert music continued; however, the recital completely changed moods for the sixth song. "Cha Till E. Tuille," a traditional composition, featured Karnatz holding down the harmony with a low drone from the didgeridoo and Oyan creating a beautiful running melody with the saxophone.
This more traditional concert music was featured again in a solo bassoon piece played by Haga and entitled Studie I Variationsform. The song began with a slow and serene beginning that pulled it into slow and smooth runs through the lower range of the instrument. And after a short and fast section, the bassoon solo ended much like it began with a serene and fading run of notes.
The concert continued on with more traditional songs such as a "Song of India," "Facades" and "Die liebe Farbe" before wrapping up with an out of the ordinary song entitled Coke Sonata, composed by Karnatz.
After listening to an interesting mix of traditional and modern pieces, the audience was excited to see what all of the Coke bottles on stage were for.
Along with the CymaScope, Karnatz, Oyan, and Haga produced a very unique piece that included amplified fizzing noises, a steady rhythm created by hitting an empty two liter, and an unusual scratching sound created by rubbing two glass bottles together.
After a few moments of these rhythms and creative sounds, Karnatz ended the song and his recital with an electronically-modified announcement of his appreciation for the audience’s attendance.
Karnatz’s recital was vastly different in comparison to how many audience members expected it would be. Instead of following the traditional recital style, Karnatz opened the eyes of the audience to a new type of music, while including a few traditional concert pieces in his program as well.
The concert was not only a fun way to spend a Saturday night, but also a learning opportunity and a great exposure to the future of music.