Red Wind for Soprano, Narrator, and Chamber Ensemble; Bass Cathedral for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble; Red Wind (Desert Remix) for Generative Software; Form and Exhaustion in Pascal Dusapin’s Quad - In Memoriam Gilles Deleuze
My dissertation comprises three original musical compositions informed by the literary works of Nathaniel Mackey and an analytical article on the music of French composer Pascal Dusapin. As a whole, the collection seeks to address the confluence of music and literature and to investigate how the interaction of these diverse art forms can affect the perception of meaning for the listener or reader.
Chapter 1, Red Wind, for soprano, narrator, bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone, contrabass, and percussion, sets to music excerpts of Nathaniel Mackey’s sixth collection of poems Blue Fasa. Mackey’s serial poems Song of the Andoumboulou and “mu,” which draw heavily upon non-Western traditions for inspiration, take “an Eastern turn” in Blue Fasa. Red Wind interprets selected verses from Blue Fasa in five movements that exhibit a wide variety of musical influences ranging from classical to blues, bossa nova, jazz, and ragtime. This interplay is intended to mirror the poet’s own penchant for signification. Addressing themes of migration, societal conflict, transit, and multiple identities found in Mackey’s poetry, the piece presents a window through which listeners may bring new meaning to this poetry. Mackey himself performed on a recording of Red Wind, available at https://soundcloud.com/sid-richardson/red-wind.
Chapter 2, Bass Cathedral, for clarinet solo and wind ensemble was inspired by the novel of the same name by Nathaniel Mackey, which is the fourth installment in his ongoing fictional series From a Broken Bottle, Traces of Perfume Still Emanate. The work investigates various methods of encoding text from the source material into the compositional parameters of the work, including phrase lengths, harmony, and gestural content. Bass Cathedral, first performed by Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s Wind Ensemble at Old South Church in Boston, also explores spatial relationships in the ensemble, which is divided in five separate groupings on stage.
Chapter 3, Red Wind (Desert Remix), is a reimagining of Red Wind in a generative media environment realized in the software program MAX/MSP. Selected excerpts of Red Wind are fragmented and reorganized by the algorithm in real time, out of which emerges upon each listening a new variation of the piece. The score is, in effect, a software application. Red Wind (Desert Remix) addresses computer music’s ability to reorganize and re-contextualize compositional materials in a way that elicits a plurality of possible meanings for the listener.
Chapter 4, “Form and Exhaustion in Pascal Dusapin’s Quad - In Memoriam Gilles Deleuze,” presents an analysis of Pascal Dusapin’s violin concertino Quad - In Memoriam Gilles Deleuze (1996). It focuses on the formal layout of the work and the interdisciplinary nature of the composer’s method. By examining these connections in detail, this study underlines the importance of these two luminary figures to Dusapin’s idiosyncratic musical philosophy. Drawing heavily upon the composer’s writings about his work and an in-person interview, this study sheds light on Dusapin’s compositional process that emphasizes form and the distribution of energy within a given work. Analytical concepts drawn from Beckett, Deleuze, and Dusapin are applied to the violin concertino to illustrate how the flow of the work is exhausted by the fusing of its rigorous formal processes with powerful emotional content.
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