A composition by Michael Henry and Dwight Frizzell - Dedicated to newEar


SCORED FOR:   B61 - Mod 11 1,200 lb. Thermonuclear Gravity Bomb and Remote Chamber Ensemble

H for Thermonuclear Device and Remote Chamber Ensemble is the next step after our work Sonic Force in composing for military technology. We have created H with the B61a Mod 11 thermonuclear device in mind, about 50 of which are stockpiled at Whiteman Air Force Base and deployed in the airspace above Missouri in B2 bombers. They are rated by the Defense Dept. as some of the safest and most versatile nuclear bombs in our arsenal, despite their lack of a fire-resistant pit which would prevent accidental detonation at temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees Celsius.

Our compositional strategy follows the procedure of Sonic Force, except in place of the A10 Warthog attack planes, we have now employed nuclear weapons for the purpose of making art (rather than war). Although it may be conceivable to coordinate an actual detonation event to accompany the ensemble (as they perform remotely in their bomb shelter), we offer H as a warning and deterrent to mutually assured destructive composition.

To generate and map material for the scored parts, we amassed over 500 pages of details, including x-y graphs and other technical information, concerning the short term and long term effects of these nuclear devices. This includes shock waves, atmospheric effects, electromagnetic pulse waves, biological effects, etc.  As longtime pacifists, we have attempted to curb our aversion to these threatening weapons in order to appreciate their broadband musicality. The score is descriptive of these physical effects and may, at times, emulate other familiar forms in the "natural" world. For example, the stable bilateral symmetry of the toroidal circulation inside the mushroom cloud emulates self-organizing structures found in nature, in the turbulent fluids of our waterways, as well as our body's circulatory systems.

The musical ensemble performs from a bomb shelter (or a space below or separate from the performance space) and is seen via a remote live video camera and heard in the venue over a multi-channel sound system.

H is as true as possible to the highly variable (10 to 500 kilotons) B61 Mod-11 thermonuclear gravity bombs that are common in our region as we use them for the centerpiece of our compositional process.

Read more about H - details, technical requirements, stage plot, and the B61 - Mod 11 here.


I. Arming

II. Critical Mass

III. Initial Fusion Blast

IV. Secondary Fission Blast

V. Thermal Radiation

VI. Toroidal Circulation (Mushroom Cloud)

VII. Shock Front

VIII.    Changes in Bone Marrow Cells

IX. Radioactivity in Rain

X. Changes in Sperm Count/Liver Function/Leucocyte Counts

XI.Ecological/Biological Effects - Fish/Eels/Plankton


  1. XIII.   Death