Curve by composer Peter Traub is an installation for four speakers and a long curved wall. It was also the final work of his five-piece dissertation series exploring physical, virtual, and hybrid spaces as compositional tools. The balcony walkway at the rear of University of Virginia’s Old Cabell Hall is bounded by a curved wall creating an intense, prolonged, and stunning echo that varies dramatically as one moves along the space. Curve played with this pronounced artifact along the wall’s 150 foot length.
Using four speakers placed along the wall, the piece created an enveloping sound environment that varied as listeners walked from one end of the balcony to the other. In combining the unique sonic properties of the space with precisely tuned pitches, timbres, and rhythms, the installation made audible both the dramatic ricocheting echo and the effect of sound taking 135 milliseconds to travel from one end to the other–a perceptible and musically useful delay. The installation’s swells, drones, pops, pitches, and silences transformed the less-visited rear of the hall into a large immersive instrument.