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MIC CHECK for saxophone quartet

by Simon Fink

AMP Records 2017

commissioned by Assembly Quartet

When I saw news coverage of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations that began in the fall of 2011, I was immediately intrigued by the impromptu “human microphone” technique adopted by the protesters. Because of the prohibition on bullhorns and electronic amplification, an orator’s words—delivered in short, discrete phrases—were repeated in unison by members of the crowd gathered immediately around him or her. Additional repetitions were required for larger audiences, emanating outward in concentric circles from the original speaker. A leader would begin by saying, “Mic check,” and would then wait for the audience to respond with a, “Mic check!” to make sure the process was in place. In this piece—inspired in part by the musical potentials of the human microphone—the members of the quartet constantly echo each other in different ways, building resonance through repetition and imitation, sometimes joining collectively in song, and sometimes splitting off in opposite directions. MIC CHECK is dedicated to the Assembly Quartet who commissioned the work to premier at World Saxophone Congress XVI in St. Andrews, Scotland.