(2012) for flute, cello, piano – 10 Minutes

Work Description

Commissioned by: Noise Watchers Unlimited
Published by: Composers Edition
Category: Works for 2-6 Players
Year Composed: 2012
Duration: 10 Minutes
Orchestration: flute, cello, piano
Availability: For Sale at Composers Edition
First performance:
1 July 2012 at Sixthfloor, Neimillen, Koerich Luxembourg (Cathy Krier, Aniela Stoffels and Eva Boesch)

Somnus is inspired by the science of sleep and polysomnographic recordings of brain waves, eye movements and neck muscle tension. The ten-minute duration of the piece mimics the cyclic staged of an 8-hour night for each of the performers. In real life, a sleep cycle lasts between 80 and 110 minutes and moves through different phases of sleep – from light sleep to a deeper, slow wave sleep and ending each time with the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase, in which dreams are particularly vivid as the brain functions here at a similar level than in an awake state.

Each of these three phases shows differences in brain wave activity. Whereas the Slow Wave Sleep is predominant at the beginning of the night, towards the morning the REM phase increases in duration with each new cycle. During these different phases, the brain works on processing and compartmentalising information that it has encountered during the day.

While the duration of each of these phases also depends on age – newborns for example will be in a state of ‘active sleep’ likened to the REM phase in adults for most of their sleeping time – each phase seems equally important in accomplishing specific tasks for the brain’s functions. Awake, our brains process alpha and beta waves which are replaced by theta waves when we fall asleep. Delta waves appear subsequently in the slow wave phase and are replaced by saw-tooth waves in the REM stages.