Earth of the Slumbering and Liquid Trees

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Earth of the Slumbering and Liquid Trees– sampled historical organs, Ableton Live 11, and ROLI keyboard

Earth of the Slumbering and Liquid Trees

Composer Benjamin Tassie has worked with pianist Zubin Kanga to create a new, large-scale concert work

for sampled historical organs and ROLI keyboard, Earth of the Slumbering and Liquid Trees.

Commissioned as part of Royal Holloway’s UKRI-funded research project ‘Cyborg Soloists’, the work uses

the latest studio and performance technologies to augment the sound and capabilities of some of the

world’s most significant historical organs. Most notably, Earth of the Slumbering and Liquid Trees utilises

the innovative ROLI Seaboard Rise 2 keyboard, a unique instrument that allows Zubin to expressively

sculpt and transform the sound of the organs in live performance. Created through a two-year process of

research and experimentation, Earth of the Slumbering and Liquid Trees is a monolithic, seventy-minute

tour de force – a sustained and immersive work in which layered, microtonal organ-drones shift and

transform to create a rich and enveloping sensory experience.

Audio examples:


To make Earth of the Slumbering and Liquid Trees, Benjamin visited and recorded several notable

historical organs in the UK and Europe. These included the Van Straten Organ, a reconstruction of a late-

Medieval Dutch organ (dating from 1479) held in the collection at Het Orgelpark, Amsterdam, as well as

period instruments at St Cecelia’s Hall, University of Edinburgh (a 1765 Thomas Parker Enharmonic Organ

and a Chamber Organ from c.1680), and the Wingfield Organ, a reconstructed English Tudor organ by the

makers Goetz and Gwynn. In the work, these sampled organs are played by Zubin, as soloist, using three

keyboards simultaneously; two MIDI keyboards and the ROLI Seaboard Rise 2. The piece is in three parts:

‘Earth’, a densely layered opening; ‘Air’, a sensuous, microtonal middle section; and ‘Ocean’, in which

layered organs pulse, phase, and undulate. Earth of the Slumbering and Liquid Trees will be performed in

the round, immersing audiences in 360-degree sound to engage with modes of ritualised and communal

listening. It will tour from late-2023.

With thanks to: Bradford Cathedral, the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership, The

National Trust, Orgelpark, ROLI, the Royal College of Organists, Royal Holloway University of London, Lord

Sackville, the University of Edinburgh, and UKRI.