Cradle Song for Solo Crotales

I particularly enjoyed Dave Shively's performance of Andrew Byrne's stunning "Cradle Song" and Alex Waterman's deftly rhythmic take on Xenakis's "Kottos" for solo cello. Byrne is a new name to me, but I'm looking forward to hearing more of his stuff- I think Anthony Burr (who guided me to this gig- thanks) is helping him with a record. This was a short piece for crotales (small tuned cymbals), and it was loud, filling the room with overtones and creating a Lucier-like ringing in the head (in the "Bird and Person Dyning" way, not the slow-sweep oscillator way). But it wasn't just a "sonic phenomenon" piece. Like Lucier, and probably even more emphatically, there was a formal arc that kept every moment moving forward most effectively. Shively must get some credit for that too- his rhythmic feel is... enviable.
- Ted Reichman from Techreichman. com, April 2007

Shortly after I took my seat for this year’s Either/Or Festival, a chuckling friend next to me quipped, “I always try to make the latest crotales premiere.” For those unfamiliar with these small, high-pitched cymbals struck with mallets, they are often used as piercing accents, balancing out lower-pitched percussion instruments. But I doubt most composers would consider writing a piece for crotales alone, as Andrew Byrne has done in “Cradle Song,” a section of Radiation Studies. David Shively’s flying hands produced a shrieking mass of metallic,  reverberant overtones, able to cause one’s inner ear to vibrate unmercifully. (I doubt any babies being rocked to sleep were actually getting any.) Perhaps I was taking the title too literally, but the relentless pinging does create the feeling of being irradiated, and even odder, it’s a sensation I wouldn’t mind experiencing again.
- Bruce Hodges, from MusicWeb.UK, April 6, 2007


Program note:

As its title suggests, Cradle Song is a lyrical piece with lilting rhythm and gently rocking melody, beginning with two notes and slowing expanding to six. But there is a twist. Cradle Song is written for crotales, tuned cymbals whose complex bell timbres and long sustain transform this melody into a lullaby like no other. As each new note is introduced, it combines with the others to create a constellation of sound, a blurry otherworldly sonority that grows in intensity until the room itself begins to vibrate and resonate. There is not much chance of falling asleep to this cradle song.

Duration: 4 minutes