You Burn Us
(2013) A visual and poetic score for piano, bowed percussion, voice, and bowed strings (including nontraditional, found, and handmade instruments)
Commissioned by New Keys for their 10th anniversary celebration and dedicated to Kanoko Nishi (piano), Theresa Wong (cello), and Jason Hoopes (contrabass) who will premiere it on November 22, 2013 at Center for New Music in San Francisco, California.
You Burn Us is a series of visual and poetic scores meant to provoke or awaken a volition within the performer, which might not otherwise surface. Presented as a portfolio of nineteen doubled sided cards, You Burn Us is a series of thirty-eight scores at 10" x 7" each. Through experimenting with painting, writing, printmaking, xerography, typography, and digital practices the work pushes the ideas of theme, repetition, and variation to their extremes.
The formal structure is appropriated from John Cages Songbooks. It can be performed in whole or in part; as a solo, or in any ensemble variation. The musicians are encouraged to choose scores that resonate with them, and can perform as many or as few as they would like. The scores can be performed in any order; can be played one after another, or simultaneously; and can be repeated. The duration is free, and can be predetermined, or decided spontaneously in performance. The length of time that the musicians perform each score is indeterminate, and should vary. The performers may begin and end anywhere on the page (scores do not need to be read traditionally from left to right, top to bottom). The poetic scores are provocative fragments that can be interpreted conceptually, instrumentally, or vocally. They are meditations on sound and performance, inspired by my experiences with improvising, performing, and listening. Fragments of my poems are quoted from the poets Jorie Grahm, Paul Mitchell, and Sappho.
Program Notes: You Burn Us is a visual representation of sound that deconstructs traditional forms of musical notation and develops new representations of sound in order to achieve equilibrium between composition and spontaneity in performance. Traditionally printing and disseminating my painted scores has led to a host of irregularities during production. The corruption and degradation of the score through xerography are elements that are ignored in traditionally notated works, but in a visual score, all irregularities change the musical interpretation of the piece. I first began encountering this in 2006 when I was scanning and photocoping large chromatic paintings in order to give performers a more functional score to practice and perform from. I realized that the variations in color and the addition of digital noise through replication presented new information for the performer to interrupt. Since then, I have been equally fascinated and frustrated with the noise and irregularties that result in the printing process. You Burn Us exploits the process of translation within the multiple, and explores the variations of noise, loss of information, and destruction of the image that occur within the printing process. By using common copy machines, scanning, and digital manipulation of previously hand worked materials the resulting scores create a conceptual investigation of modes of production and their effects on the transfer and interpretation of information.