Saturday, November 11, 2023

"Do Not Trouble Your Appetite About It". For Harpsichord. The Score and Commentary by Martin Amis

"Do Not Trouble Your Appetite About It".  

For Harpsichord.  

Bil Smith Composer

Commissioned by OneBeacon Insurance Group

The Score

A Commentary by Martin Amis, 2022

In "Do Not Trouble Your Appetite About It", the score is an insurrection, a riotous sprawl of notation for the harpsichord that veers off the beaten path into a thicket of complexity. This isn't music you simply perform; it's music you grapple with, music that wraps around your cerebral cortex and gives it a good tickle.

The notational archetype here isn't just off the wall—it's off the charts. Each graphic, each glyph on the page, stands coherent in its own microcosmic right. Yet, stack them, layer them, collage them, and what you get is not so much a composition as a compositional conspiracy. It's an enigma, and to the uninitiated, it's as decipherable as Etruscan.

You see, our virtuoso, our Harpsichordist with a capital H, is compelled to make peace with a musical tapestry that's both meticulously ordered and deliriously deranged. The composition, with its Machiavellian complexity, proffers an illusion of chaos, a sleight of hand that tickles the performer into a complicit dance with its apparently nonsensical logic.

This piece is an affront, a challenge to the performer to don the mantle of a musical detective, searching for clues in a notational landscape that seems as random as a drunkard's walk but is, in fact, as precise as a cat burglar. "Do Not Trouble Your Appetite About It" isn't just a title; it's a warning, a cheeky nod to the futility of trying to impose conventional wisdom on a piece that is anything but conventional.

The notational elements, the machinic and graphic shenanigans of the score, are not the headliners. No, they're the cunning accomplices, the rogue elements that lure you into the labyrinth. But the labyrinth is where the action is. It's in the complex interplay, the sum that's more bombastic, more flamboyant than its parts.

And yet, the performer gets it—on some level that transcends the rational, the frontal lobe. The Harpsichordist understands that the joy of this furball of a piece is not in the untangling but in the tangling itself. The complexity doesn't want to be solved; it wants to be savored, like a good wine or a bad habit.

Don't misunderstand—this isn't randomness. This isn't throwing paint at a wall and calling it art. There's method in the madness, a method dictated by the inherent rules of choice and arrangement. The performer's familiarity with these rules is what keeps them from visual fatigue. It's what sustains the engagement, the same way a seasoned gambler remains at the poker table, reading the tells, playing the bluffs, savoring the game beneath the game.

In the end, "Do Not Trouble Your Appetite About It" is a kind of musical maelstrom, one that sucks you in and spits you out, leaving you a little dazed, perhaps, but with a grin on your face. It's a score that doesn't just sit on the music stand; it leaps off it and takes you on a ride you didn't know you wanted to go on.

And that, my friends, is the mark of something remarkable.

- Martin Amis, 2022

No comments:

Post a Comment