open work for ensemble
Duration: variable, ca. 30'
respirateur is a series of four works after Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), 1915-1923, and The Green Box, 1934. respirateur uses incidental features of Duchamp’s work as structural elements to create four independent chamber pieces, each with a unique instrumentation. Each part is in some way open, and when combined, these four chamber works become four interconnected panels of the larger work, respirateur, for 10 instruments and electronics. Durations given in parentheses below refer to the total duration of each work if it is presented separately as a single concert work, the larger work will last about 30 minutes.
Adage of Spontaniety (9’30) for bass flute, bass clarinet and electric guitar
Beauty of Indifference (9’00) for 2 sopranos and percussion
Breathe (8’00) for flute, bassoon and prepared piano
Graft Blossom (8’30) for toy piano, amplified clavichord and electronics
These parts may be performed together as respirateur, an ensemble work for 10 performers and electronics, whose duration, though variable will be about 20 minutes:
Open-hole bass flute
Percussion (open instr., 1player)
Prepared piano (1 player)
Clavichord, toy piano (1 player)
Adage of Spontaneity (2014)
for open-hole bass flute, bass clarinet and electric guitar
Premiere: Sonic Hedgehog, Het Bethaniënklooster, Amsterdam, September 2014
Commissioned by Sonic Hedgehog [part of respirateur]
This piece is part of the larger cycle of works respirateur, based on Marcel Duchamp’s The Large Glass. respirateur uses incidental features of Duchamp’s work as structural elements to create four independent chamber pieces, each with a unique instrumentation. But each part is in some way open, and when combined, these four chamber works become four interconnected panels of the larger work, respirateur, for 10 instruments and electronics.
Beauty of Indifference (2016)
for 2 sopranos and prepared guitar or percussion
Duration: variable, ca. 9’
Premiere: Radio Voltaire, Chicago, October 2016 [part of respirateur]
This piece is part of the larger cycle of works respirateur, based on Marcel Duchamp’s The Large Glass.
Beauty of Indifference contains the following items:
3 Draft Pistons [for 2 sopranos]
The Boxing Match
Fruit Prison [for 1 percussionist]
1st and 2nd Falls
In the Green Box, Duchamp says, “buy a pair of ice-tongs as a readymade.” The source text of Tongs is the list of kinds of tongs taken from the index of: Nomenclature 4.0 for Museum Cataloging: Robert G. Chenhall's System for Classifying Cultural Objects. The source text of The Boxing Match is one sentence from the Green Box, “This is, very probably, the only suitable alphabet for the description of this picture.” The performers choose their own source texts for each version of Dust.
Beauty of Indifference was commissioned for Radio Voltaire (Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, soprano, Mabel Kwan, keyboards, Jesse Langen, guitars, and Liz Pearse, soprano & piano) and premiered as 3 Draft Pistons with Graft Blossom and Fruit Prison, at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, Chicago, in October 2016.
for flute, bassoon and prepared piano
Premiere: Aurea Silva Trio, National Flute Convention, August 2014
Commissioned by Aurea Silva Trio [part of respirateur]
Breathe takes the act of respiration as its essential paradigm. I was interested in the enormous amount of subtle expression latent in this seemingly utilitarian activity. All of the basic musical material in this work is built up around the gesture of a breath, the timing and shape of inhalation and exhalation, the possible interruption of a breath, the continuous nature of breathing, the uneasiness of air patterns we make when we are nervous, frightened, relaxed – the list is seemingly endless. Two of the musicians directly use their own breath to generate sounds on their instruments, but the piano does not. The conflict between these methods of sound production underlies the temporal relation of parts in Breathe, and creates the singular harmonic space of the work. The flute and bassoon use traditional tuning (albeit with ample multiphonics that diverge from twelve-tone equal temperament), while the piano uses this plus two unique systems, based on the 7th and 11th partials, respectively. This creates a microtonal music that limits overall register (the essential pitched sounds in the work happen in the octave above middle E) at the same time that it opens a new, three-dimensional pitch space within these confines.
Graft Blossom (2015)
for amplified clavichord, toy piano and electronics
Duration: variable, ca. 9’
Premiere: Ensemble dal Niente, Frequency Series, Chicago, January 2016
Recording: Mabel Kwan, CD one poetic switch, 2016
Commissioned by DCASE (Chicago) and Mabel Kwan [part of respirateur]
Graft Blossom’s form exhibits a degree of openness – the performer chooses an order for the three parts (there are two hinges for clavichord, and hotplate for toy piano). These choices, in turn, influence the order of events in the electronics part, called filament (which is based on recorded piano harmonics and clavichord sounds). In this way, each performance of Graft Blossom is a unique arrangement of the work's parts, offering the listener a situation analogous to the moving viewer of the Duchamp work. The work was written for and premiered by Mabel Kwan in January 2016.