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Swarms of Light in Metal: Trevor Saint, glockenspiel

New Music for a Re-imagined instrument: The premiere recording of music for the extended-range glockenspiel.


Devoted to music for the extended-range glockenspiel, Swarms of Light in Metal is the first recording of its kind. With the extended-range instrument, new sonic possibilities and artistic approaches arise, which to this date have not been presented through a full-length CD.

The glockenspiel has traditionally been approached as a children’s instrument, or as a decorative addition to Christmas carols, orchestral music, and modern pop music. Only recently has the instrument received recognition as a serious solo instrument. Comprised of mid-to-high pitched resonant metal, its sonic qualities can be challenging, for both performer and listener. Instead of treating this as an obstacle, I seek to exploit the glockenspiel in its most diverse form, and to challenge the existing perceptions of the instrument, thus making the record a relevant contribution to new experimental music.

Seven American composers have written the pieces included on Swarms of Light in Metal. All the pieces were commissioned by me within the past six years as a response to a non-existent repertoire:


Swarms of Light in Metal – Jeff Herriott

Opalescence – Christopher Burns

Syntax of Snow – Matthew Burtner

Devil’s Door – Amanda Schoofs

Strata – Christopher Adler

jeu de timbre – Thomas DeLio

Three Winter Carols – Stuart Saunders Smith


The textures of these works are articulated through a myriad of techniques: shrill punctuation of brass mallets; mellow purity of bowed bars; and the gentle touch of fingertips in snow. By design, these pieces not only express the rare qualities of the glockenspiel, but also present modern musical perspectives on our sonic, physical, or philosophical relationship to nature. Jeff Herriot’s swarms of light in metal uses slow, pulseless waves of electronic and acoustic sound that in interaction with the glockenspiel mirror the interdependence found within an ecosystem. The connection between human and nature, as well as the passing of time, is also explored in Three Winter Carols, by Stuart Saunders Smith, which includes poetry written by the composer. The works by Christopher Adler and Christopher Burns are both complex explorations of layering and form, while Matthew Burtner’s Syntax of Snow portrays the ever-changing nature of snow.

Working with environmental record label EcoSono, Swarms of Light in Metal will fortify ecology and originality; creating new forms of expression through nonconformity. Viewing music and environmental preservation as a unified movement, EcoSono is a strong facilitator for experimental music and ecological awareness. EcoSono states: “Human productive engagement with the natural world is a cornerstone of the EcoSono philosophy and we believe Trevor’s work with the extended glockenspiel advances that objective. This project is especially important from its performative angle and we plan to promote the new CD through live concerts and touring, in addition to digital and physical media distribution.”

Swarms of Light in Metal is new music for a re-imagined instrument.

Project Media

Syntax of Snow: Engaging the Natural World
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(0:00-2:43) Composer and Ecosono founder/director Matthew Burtner discusses his engagement with nature over an outdoor performance of Syntax of Snow from a snowy Wisconsin afternoon in January 2012. Originally a solo, Syntax of Snow is composed for an indoor instrument (glockenspiel) and outdoor material (snow). Inside, the experience connects memory to the natural world; outdoors, the performers inhabit the place of the nature, adding reflective material, singing with nature. A studio recording will finally present the live multi-layered form.

Swarms of Light in Metal – Jeff Herriott
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As the album’s title track, Jeff Herriott’s Swarms of Light in Metal (2010) was the first piece ever commissioned/performed for the extended-range glockenspiel. Engaging with electronic sounds created from recordings of the acoustic instrument, Swarms parallels the deceptively intricate interplay between elements in a ecosystem. A particularly accurate depiction of this relationship starts at minute five (05:00). Focusing on natural resonance, simple chordal material harmonizes with subtle electronic sounds, creating a complex environment.

Intimate Addictions – Amanda Schoofs
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Features: Trevor Saint

This is a 3/22/2016 realization of experimental painter/composer Amanda Schoof’s “Intimate Addictions”. Swarms of Light in Metal will include a newly commissioned work by Schoofs, “Devil’s Door”. Inspired by Chester Thordarson’s Viking boathouse in Rock Island State Park in Wisconsin, “Devil’s Door” includes Norwegian text, eerie sung melodies, and haunting extended techniques.

Start and End Dates



Whitewater, Wisconsin

Project Created By

New Haven, Connecticut
Trevor Saint plays new music for glockenspiel. He performs the first solo works for the extended-range instrument, and improvises wildly with the instrument’s extreme offerings. With a keen interest in treating the extended-range glockenspiel as a serious solo instrument, Saint collaborates with composers to realize newfangled techniques and approaches to help facilitate a path towards individual expression.…

In Collaboration With

Recording Engineer, Composer
Fort Atkinson , Wisconsin
Composer, Founder/Director of Ecosono


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