Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"Split By An Immense Roar" for Chamber Orchestra, et al

"Split By An Immense Roar" for Chamber Orchestra, et al: 
Bil Smith Composer (2014)
Compositional Concept Funded and Devised by Louise Lord. 
Execution by Jeorne Balette (IRCAM). With assistance from the NYPD, Johnson Tremidy, Donald Foerbasch, Radio France, Verizon and The Locke Family.
Phasation Two: The meaning of compositional content of this experience is corporeal. 
It seems to be in a category all of it's own; categorized with it's descriptions of essence; description is to be extolled for it's accuracy, effectiveness and aptness. Add kinesthetic and synesthetic aspect of the very absence of certainty and uncertainty.
Thematic cues from the following:
Asthenolagnia...Autem Morte...Attractancy...Atracador...Auto-Onanism...Auxocyte...Avisodomy...Axillism...Ayuga...Azona...

The recording On SoundCloud:

Large Format Score: Revised "Swellow" For Three Trumpets: F Trumpet, E# Trumpet and G Trumpet

Swellow.  Large Format Score for three trumpets: DETAIL
Swellow.  Large Format Score for three trumpets

Performance A:  The Parlor, Soho, NY. NY.  June 3 2014

Performance B: Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon.  June 4 2014

Performance C: Davis Museum. Wellesley College. June 5 2014

Performance D: NYU Langone Medical Center. June 6 2014

Swellow.  Large Format Score for three trumpets: DETAIL

Swellow.  Large Format Score for three trumpets: DETAIL

Swellow.  Large Format Score for three trumpets: DETAIL

Swellow.  Large Format Score for three trumpets: DETAIL

Swellow.  Large Format Score for three trumpets: DETAIL

"Similar Monomania" For Orchestra and Seven (7) Pianos. Bil Smith Composer

"Similar Monomania" For Orchestra and Seven Pianos (2012). Bil Smith Composer
Supported by a contribution from Balenciaga and Chief Creative Director Nicolas Ghesquière.
"Remarkably comfortable with causation, he seems to be moving through some ritual process that explodes into life threatening chaos at any moment. It's tempting to talk about shamanic journeys. The absence of a prevailing stylistic orthodoxy is striking"
- Clive Bell on Bil Smith's "Similar Monomania" for Wire

Listen On SoundCloud:


On Composer's and Appropriation...

Appropriation, following a visual arts model, lifts musical passage in its entirety, reframing it in a score. 

There is very little intervention and editing; the intention begins and ends with the lifting. 

As such, textual appropriation often involves issues of quantity: how much untreated composition is grabbed determines the action. 

Let's look at poetics - if something — say a haiku — is appropriated in its entirety, then the amount of language is small. 

If, on the other hand (as suggested in recent comments to these posts), the Gutenberg Bible is transposed, then the amount of language is enormous. Referring to Marjorie Perloff’s idea of Benjamin’s Arcades Project as a precursor to conceptual poetics, that book deals in complete chunks of pre-existing texts, often running untouched for up to ten pages. 

If we compare this to Pound’s Cantos, we’ll see the difference between the whole and the fragment, a very different project, indeed.

The visual arts began this practice in the twentieth century with Duchamp’s appropriation of a urinal and found its legacy in the consumerist photographic critiques of the 1980s, particularly in the works of Sherrie Levine’s re-photographing of modernist masters and Richard Prince’s and Jeff Koons appropriations of unaltered advertisements. 

Today, of course, appropriation is old hat in the art world. 

But composing — with its reception still fifty years behind visual art — is just beginning to struggle with these issues.  But it is fun.

Post-Conceptual Composition

Conceptual composition may or may not be played out. Certainly the works that have come to define it have created a recognizable framework for critical appreciation and as I see many much younger composers taking up its approaches in what feels like a formulaic way, that seems to signal a phase of exhaustion to me, but perhaps not to others.
What I am addressing are the ways conceptual composition is the indicative aesthetic in our time—for reasons that have to do with larger cultural shifts.
Not everyone will remember the resistance to conceptualism’s place in music history, but in the 1990s, it was in response to the prevalent notion that minimalism had been single most important development of the 1960s.
What composition and aesthetics are, and how we understand them, is not unrelated to what they do, or how they show and indicate other changes. I sense emergent phenomena in the current culture that are expressions of collective, aggregate, voice, at a scale and with a willing participation in group think that is different from that which characterized modernism, romanticism, and contemporary work.
Will it displace other modes? Take its place alongside? Change values and aesthetic practices?

Questions as yet unanswerable.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

“Invisium Vertice” for Saff B Flat Clarinet (or) C Trumpet

“Invisium Vertice” for Saff B Flat Clarinet (or) C Trumpet

Thanks to Danaher Corp.  

Two performances.  

Both Instruments.  

January 16th at 19 Reade Street Theater

"Testent". The Recording.

Extended Orchestra refers to an expansion of instrumentation beyond the traditional orchestral modicum. In this piece it involves adding a prescribed number (in this performance 18) of non-traditional orchestral instruments. While the score for the instruments is carefully notated, the instrument selection is left up to the key stakeholders of the performance.

"Form and referent coincide, and response rarely goes beyond the initial frisson. In creating a score of this magnitude, it is not the immediate, visceral reaction but the critical reception, the work’s potential to generate independent thinking, that matters.

By going back to timeless archetypes, he bypasses the slag heap of historicism and yokes the orchestra to a heavy sense of time, far from the everyday and the customary.

It does so, however, without falling prey to the transcendental consolations of the sublime that serve to empower the viewer at the expense of introspection. This music is resolutely opaque...

...Smith is not shy about seeing himself as something of a traditionalist, as his strategic deployment of outmoded forms makes plain—and yet the dynamic quality of his relationship with history is clearest when considered in terms of his unconventional choices in instrumentation."

- Alexander Wong, "The Japan Times"

Listen on SoundCloud:

"Togus" for Two Sopranos and Mezzo Soprano


for Two Sopranos and Mezzo Soprano


Bil Smith Composer

Commissioned by Harrison Hayes, LLC

The Chabian Score

Gustavo Chab and Score

The Double Bass. A Technical Study by Eric Daino

The Double Bass.  A Technical Study by Eric Daino

"Contemporary Notation/Technique Bibliography" from Indiana University

"Contemporary Notation/Technique Bibliography" 

from Indiana University

"The 20th Century Trombone". A Resource for Composers and Performers by Kerry Jane Baldwin

"The 20th Century Trombone".   

A Resource for Composers and Performers 

by Kerry Jane Baldwin

Friday, October 21, 2016

"Frolic" For String Quartet

A Look At Oulipo: "Luc Etienne Périn" for Prescript Chamber Ensemble

"Luc Etienne Périn" for Prescript Chamber Ensemble:  A Look At Oulipo

In 2010, I was approached by a unique individual by the name of Bernard Charron (not sure it was his real name). 

He asked me about my music and we moved onto the subject of literature and writing. This led to a lengthly discussion about the Oulipo and our respective opinions about their oeuvre. Some months later he contacted me and asked if I would be interested in writing short musical 'vignettes' as he described them, mimicking the Oulipian aesthetic utilizing my "compaction music" techniques.

I found the concept interesting, but at the time I was quite busy with other commitments. He returned to me several weeks later and stated that he had secured a grant from Société Générale Group to allow me to pursue this endeavor.

Luc Étienne Périn
Here I present one of a number of these works, composed for "Prescript Chamber Ensemble", performed by the members of the Juilliard Faculty in NY, The Boston Symphony, Ensemble Debrosses and The Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Luc Étienne Périn, also known as Luc Étienne, (1908–1984) was a French writer and a proponent of 'pataphysics. He was born on 8 September 1908, in the small town of Neuflize, in the Ardennes, and died on 27 November 1984, in Reims.

After having studied in Charleville, he went on, in 1945, to teach mathematics and physics in a secondary school in Reims. In 1952, his first pataphysical works were published in the books of the College of 'Pataphysics, whose Regent and Chief of Practical Work he later became.

He published 'The Art of the Spoonerism' in 1957, and maintained until his death a weekly section of linguistic gaffes in the French satirical newspaper, Le Canard enchaîné.

In 1970, he became a member of the equally experimental Oulipo.


"Luc Etienne Périn" for Prescript Chamber Ensemble on SoundCloud:

Luc Étienne Périn, also known as Luc Étienne, (1908–1984) was a French writer and a proponent of 'pataphysics. He was born on 8 September 1908, in ...

Kähler Manifold. Bil Smith Composer

Kähler Manifold

Commissioned by Kose, CHUO-KU, Japan

Bil Smith Composer

Contemporary Composition has a bad rap these days.  Some say it’s just intellectual masturbation — that you’ll spend your life engaging in an activity that you find stimulating but that will never produce anything of value.
I don’t think that’s right. Typically masturbation stays between you and the occasional family member who’s unfortunate enough to open the door without knocking. Composition, by contrast, is meant to be shared.
That’s why being a professional composer is more like making a living donating your gametes to strangers.  Masturbation might be involved, but if so it’s just the beginning.  Eventually you can spawn something great. 
One day someone might take one of your compositions out of storage, thaw it out, and implant it in a generation of fertile young minds.  So don’t worry if some poor benighted souls fail to see the value of your often-solitary labors.