Tuesday, August 28, 2018

"Compositional Surrogates: Translating a Theoretical Treatise"

“A Series of Storms” Bil Smith Composer (2012-2013)

"Compositional Surrogates: Translating a Theoretical Treatise"

SCORE: “A Series of Storms” Bil Smith Composer (2012-2013)

For Benedikt Eppelsheim Contrabass Saxophone (conversely Contrabass Clarinet); Tambourine: Retresium Trumpet in ‘A’; Inderbinen Wood Flugelhorn,: Eva Kingma Contrabass Flute; Celestonite Modified ‘A’ Clarinet with Slide ‘Pirix’ designed by Richard Fulbright; Angh, and Maser 2 Snare Drum.

In this work ("Series of Storms"), translating this theoretical treatise under this very broad definition; systems like Morse code, Ventisma, Fortola Codex, flag semaphore, secret speech, and other types of signals that share little in common could also be included. Tristan Murail has used the term “talking musical instruments,” which provides a clearer set of fundamental boundaries.

Even this term highlights a significant cultural bias. For many of the cultures studied under this lens, speech and music are not so easily partitioned.

In this work, “A Series of Storms”, I attempt to articulate the theatrical ambivalence towards these theorems, yet with great respect, illustrate a ritualistic musical tablature which has been buried.

In the words of Elliot Fereder, speech surrogates are the “conversion of human speech into equivalent sounds for transmission in vestigial systems”. 

He goes on to define percussive and whistle languages as well as surrogates played on other musical instruments.

The term “drum and whistle languages” has been used by several authors when describing systems that are neither drummed nor whistled but rather played on musical instruments. 

In this work, the customized Maser 2 Snare Drum, Tambourine and Angh are aligned with this evidentiary platform.

Drum and whistle languages and talking musical instruments share an important feature: the conversion of speech into a musical medium. The signal is based on pitch, rhythm, timbre, and other characteristics shared by speech and music, but it is performed by musical means—drums, whistling, flutes, etc.

Perhaps the best term to describe these related phenomena is “musical speech surrogates,” which has been used by Jeremy Blaise and Todd Reese among others.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Farther Than The Front

"New Release From Laboratorie New Music CD Label.
"Farther Than the Front" 
This is a generous commission from Alcatel (2008). 
This recording was realized and completed in 2013.
The mandate for the commission is that I play a number of roles: Composer; Sound Designer: Editor; Violinist (which I am not schooled in): Gong Performance and Voice which must be attenuated after the performance to reflect a change of gender from male (me) to female... and conductor of the ensemble.

"In Mr. Smith's work you will hear abrupt sonic change; pops, clicks, about faces; shifts...all mapped and planned, but no concern to the observer.
...the heavy, awkward pull of a faraway world full of vanished people, whose lives had rubbed up against time; regret over sounds we didn’t see coming; a melancholic determination to walk through all the rooms. I knew I would try to assimilate the things I’d never heard into some kind of “revised appreciation”; that I would listen at the familiar in search of distracting details, anything that would banish the weight of time and memory."
Ndiol Maka Seck - Le Soleil - Dakar, Senegal

ITALY’S AUTONOMIA MOVEMENT was less a group of people or an organization to which one belonged than a milieu or network of spaces through which elements of the Italian “extreme” Left moved. 
Though in many areas of the country autonomia had its base in the student and women’s movements, what distinguished it was its deep roots in certain segments of the working class, in particular those who had emigrated from the south of the country, outside the Communist Party and trade union culture that was so dominant in the northern industrial cities. 
Not a party, autonomia was a form of struggle (a set of practices, a theoretical orientation). Because it never assumed a recognizable political contour, just who or what autonomia was has remained difficult to nail down.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Compaction Music: "Georges Perec" for Prescript Chamber Ensemble (Oulipo Posentante) Bil Smith Composer

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.
About the Oulipo

Oulipians innovate upon the architecture of genres not to"blur," "transgress," and "unfix" boundaries, but to grasp a genre's potential. The Oulipian notion of
poteniality goes in two directions: on the one hand it
attempts to build structures in a systematic and scientific
manner; that which is potential is that which does not yet
exist. On the other hand, Oulipians strongly believe that
potential and inspiration are codependent. By acting
systematically and scientifically Oulipians focus and
clarify, not "blur," their approach to genre

What sort of society could bind together Jacques Roubaud, Italo Calvino, Marcel Duchamp, and Raymond Queneau—and Daniel Levin Becker, a young American obsessed with language play? Only the Oulipo, the Paris-based experimental collective founded in 1960 and fated to become one of literature’s quirkiest movements.

An international organization of writers, artists, and scientists who embrace formal and procedural constraints to achieve literature’s possibilities, the Oulipo (the French acronym stands for “workshop for potential literature”) is perhaps best known as the cradle of Georges Perec’s novel A Void, which does not contain the letter e. Drawn to the Oulipo’s mystique, Levin Becker secured a Fulbright grant to study the organization and traveled to Paris. 

He was eventually offered membership, becoming only the second American to be admitted to the group. From the perspective of a young initiate, the Oulipians and their projects are at once bizarre and utterly compelling. Levin Becker’s love for games, puzzles, and language play is infectious, calling to mind Elif Batuman’s delight in Russian literature in The Possessed.

In recent years, the Oulipo has inspired the creation of numerous other collectives: the OuMuPo (a collective of DJs), the OuMaPo (marionette players), the OuBaPo (comic strip artists), the OuFlarfPo (poets who generate poetry with the aid of search engines), and a menagerie of other Ou-X-Pos (workshops for potential something). Levin Becker discusses these and other intriguing developments in this history and personal appreciation of an iconic—and iconoclastic—group.

Monday, August 6, 2018

"Aftonian Sequenza" For Solo Instrument

"Aftonian Sequenza"

For Solo Instrument

Bil Smith

I’m really interested in examining not only the status of the notation as a potential form of agency in and of itself, but also the question of what the figure of agency is in composition; and trying to somehow work through this ideal of interpretation in music composition.

"Fidel See Level". For Piano. 2016

"Fidel See Level"

For Piano

Bil Smith


Commissioned by Renault