Skip to page content

About this Piece

Born in California, Samuel Carl Adams now lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. His works draw from his experiences in a wide array of fields, including noise and electronic music, jazz, and field recording. Adams studied at Stanford University and Yale University, and has received commissions from the San Francisco Symphony, the New World Symphony, the Paul Dresher Ensemble Electroacoustic Band, the Mobious Trio, and The Living Earth Show, among others.

Recent work includes Drift and Providence, a piece for large orchestra and live electroacoustic processing that had its premiere with the New World Symphony and further performances with the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas. Adams presented twenty four strings, a sextet written for members of The Academy (a program of Carnegie Hall, Juilliard, and the Weill Institute), at Skidmore College as part of a week-long residency in Saratoga Springs, NY, and at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in late October, 2012. In the spring of 2012, Adams was in residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (NYC), where he developed the score to Woman Bomb, a play written by Croatian playwright Ivana Sajko and directed by Charlotte Brathwaite.

In May 2013, Adams will be composer in residence at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, and at the Visby International Centre for Composers on Gotland Island, Sweden, in June. In the spring of 2014, violinist Anthony Marwood will premiere a new work with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra.

Adams’ two Tension Studies were commissioned by the San Francisco-based post-classical ensemble The Living Earth Show, which plans to record the work. Its first performance was November 8, 2010, at Yale’s Sprague Hall. The composer has written the following note:

Perhaps the most transparent ‘tension’ in this composition is the guitarist’s revealing of the bass line by the gradual detuning of the instrument. However, the primary concern of the work is the physical acoustic tension between the dominant and the tonic.

“I would like to give special thanks to Max Zuckerman, John Corkill, and Yun-Chu Chiu for providing energy, emotion, and enthusiasm to the first couple of performances.

“I wrote the guitar processing exclusively in Max/MSP. I created samples exclusively with a Kolkata pump Harmonium.

“This work is dedicated to Paul Dresher.”

Adams has recently revised the work, as he described on his website in January. “This has been equal parts really frustrating and really fun. Revising is one of those things that can completely imperil you. ‘Why did I decide to do this?’ ‘Is it possible to fix this pacing here?’ The answers to these questions are usually ‘because I am an idiot’ and ‘no’. But there is also, for me at least, a sense of freedom in revising, not having to submit to some arbitrary rule or quasi-logic. So, despite my agonizing, I learned a lot and have better pieces to share.”