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for cello and piano

Year:  2014

Year:  2014

Composer:   Michael Norris

Films, Audio & Samples

Michael Norris discusses Ph...

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Michael Norris: Phospheni -...

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Sample Score

Sample: pages 1 - 2

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Phospheni (or phosphenes) are a form of visual hallucination, in which light ‘auras’ appear in the visual domain that do not exist externally. These phenomenon can be caused by mechanical or electricomagnetic stimulation, by diseases or by meditative or psychotic mental states. Astronauts have reported a high incidence of phosphenes in space, and researchers have hypothesized that these are due to the interaction of cosmic rays with the optic nerve or visual cortex of the brain.

In Phospheni , these images provide a gestural repertoire of short, staccato touches that stipple the otherwise calm waters. A gradual process of disconnection happens, however: the cellist’s actual sounds become gradually disconnected from the intensity of their physical gestures.

This work was commissioned by Séverine Ballon and Mark Knoop.

Performance history

21 Oct 2014: Performed by Séverine Ballon (cello) and Mark Knoop (piano) at the Rare Earth Concert at City University London, in London.