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Ellen Fullman



Composer Ellen Fullman had a problem: the music in her head was comprised of sounds no one had ever heard before. So, in 1981, she began work on The Long String Instrument, a massive harp-like instrument that has approximately 100 strings suspended at waist height for 90 feet and attached to a soundboard. Three people play the Long String Instrument by walking its length and bowing its strings with their rosin-coated fingertips. Now, after 20 years of development, Fullman's Long String Instrument is the foundation for instrumental works of incredible texture and beauty.

The pieces on Change of Direction grew out of a collaboration between Fullman and Pauline Oliveros's Deep Listening Band. In "Harmonic Cross Sweep," The Long String Instrument is a chameleon that sounds alternately like a harp, an organ, or a brass section. Spine-tingling, tooth-grating squeals and gyrations give way to resonant harmonic chords and waves. Layering swells of sound rise and fall, seemingly excused from the normal rules of space and time. The music is constantly threatening to soar away into the cosmos, and it finally does, fading away into ether after five hypnotic, inscrutable minutes. The music seems to come directly from the astral plane, the sound of the sun rising over an icy desert ridge in New Mexico, a swarm of unnamed insects, or the slow tectonic motion of the earth. You've never heard anything like this before, at least not on this planet.