COMPEL Omeka Dev

The Lightning Field



The Lightning Field


The Lightning Field for baritone, bass clarinet, trumpet, bass trombone, and computer was written for the loadbang ensemble with text by poet, Anne Shaw. The Lightning Field is a land-art work in the western high desert of New Mexico by Walter De Maria. The work consists of 400 stainless steel poles sticking out of the earth in the shape of a grid. The poetry was written during a trip to view the work.  The overriding concepts at play during the compositional process were isolation and introspection. This work is the fifth collaboration between myself and Anne Shaw.

The four seamless movements track various emotional states that Anne encountered while walking through the field and writing. The third movement exhibits a numerical connection with the original land-art. The first 400 unique words of the poetry were recorded and are played at random creating a murmuring texture above the ensemble. The harmonic material likewise was put through process of my own design, which involves pitch set evolution as opposed to variation. The final movement features Anne’s own voice reading a letter about her time spent at the field while viewing the piece.





baritone voice, bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone




sound: Robert McCluretext: Alix Anne Shaw, “The Lightning Field,” COMPEL Omeka Dev, accessed April 18, 2024,


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