Sea of Tranquillity
for percussion quartet (2004)
duration: 13'

audio sample

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
The Sea of Tranquillity on the moon is not really a ‘sea’ as such but a lower altitude plain, the result of earlier volcanic activity. Tracts of land can be purchased on the Sea of Tranquillity at $37.50 (US) an acre. Apparently over 400,000 people have already bought their own blocks. This particular ‘sea’ is most famous as the landing site of the Apollo 11 mission that first landed man on the moon. Buzz Aldrin referred to the sight of it as “magnificent desolation”. Of course, some people consider the whole moon landing to have been a hoax and Aldrin was infamously taken to court for assaulting one of them. Either way, when we look at the moon, we often wonder that humans have stood on it and this idea has a certain spirituality or mysticism to it. We can see it, but not touch it. And to me, the ‘Sea of Tranquillity’ beautifully captures this enigmatic notion.

This piece of music is written in reflection of the moon. The main musical material (in 12/8) is influenced by slow pulse pop-funk as found on the Miles Davis albums
Amandla and Tutu. Contrasting sections (in 3/2 and 6/4) gradually overhaul and replace the original material. Additionally, the influence of the music of Carl Vine can be traced in various ways. I have been an admirer of his music for nearly 20 years and this piece is dedicated to him.

“Stuart Greenbaum’s world premiere of Sea of Tranquillity used a large range of sound–sources in a jazz–indebted work that settled down to a recurrent tune interrupted by more aggressive interludes.”
Clive O’Connell, The Age, October 2004