Saturday, September 23, 2023

"Semio": A Reappropriation of Mathias Spahlinger's "128 Erfüllte Augenblicke" for Voice, Clarinet and Cello. Bil Smith Composer.

"Semio"  Bil Smith Composer

"Semio": A Reappropriation of Mathias Spahlinger's "128 Erfüllte Augenblicke" for Voice, Clarinet and Cello. Bil Smith Composer.  Various pages of the score.

To reappropriate a musical composition, a deliberate intervention is made into its common or hegemonic (for the cultural studies majors amongst us) usage. This common usage as a music of oppression, hurt or victimization is challenged and reevaluated. 

The composition may attain a neutral or acceptable connotation and become absorbed into broader cultural use. It may even attain a positive connotation within informed and aware groups.

Mathias Spahlinger

"Semio"  Bil Smith Composer

Music and language (text) reappropriation usually takes place within the oppressed community affected by the music's original meaning.  Often, performance of the composition outside that community retains its derogatory meaning.  

Musical meaning is decoded within a context – how it’s conveyed, by whom, when, where and why all have effects on the intent and receipt of a composition.

"Something About His Salted Face Or His Strangely Menacing Mildness" For Solo Voice

"Something About His Salted Face Or His Strangely Menacing Mildness" 

For Solo Voice

Bil Smith Composer

Published by LNM Editions

Link to Hi-Res PDF Score

Commentary and Analysis Written by Cormac McCarthy

Within the sphere of contemporary vocal music, "Something About His Salted Face Or His Strangely Menacing Mildness" stands as an epitome of the limitless potential of the human voice as an instrument of artistic articulation. It pushes the boundaries of auditory perception, inciting intellectual contemplation and emotional immersion in equal measure.

Smith's fascination with gutturalisms lies in their primal, visceral quality. They embody the most elemental aspects of human vocalization, reaching deep into the corporeal substratum of sound production. Guttural utterances, produced from the throat and lower vocal tracts, transcend the constraints of conventional phonetics. They are raw, unmediated expressions of the human voice's inherent potential for sheer emotional intensity.

In the vocal interpretation of this score, gutturalisms serve as a portal to the performer's primordial self. They challenge the vocalist to discard linguistic norms and delve into the reservoirs of the subconscious. Through growls, grunts, and primal vocalizations, the vocalist'spure emotional resonance reigns supreme.

Hyper-Neologisms: The Fracturing of Linguistic Constructs

Smith's penchant for hyper-neologisms transgresses linguistic conventions, giving birth to a lexicon that exists solely within the confines of this composition. These linguistic novelties are not meant to convey conventional meaning; instead, they serve as potent vehicles for the embodiment of abstract emotions and conceptual abstractions.

In the vocal interpretation of this score, hyper-neologisms become vessels for the dissolution of linguistic boundaries. Performers grapple with phonemic sequences that defy traditional syntax and structure. They navigate a terrain where words themselves become malleable, and language is stripped to its phonetic essence.

The vocal performer, burdened by the onus of interpretation, navigates this aural labyrinth with a courage and dexterity akin to an acrobat on a precipice. Whispers oscillate to primal screams, traversing the precipitous chasm between vulnerability and unbridled intensity.

This journey is one of transcendence. The performer becomes an alchemist, transmuting sound into emotion, abstraction into embodiment. The vocal cords, palate, and resonating cavities become tools for the creation of sonic tapestries that defy linguistic categorization.

"Something About His Salted Face Or His Strangely Menacing Mildness" stands as an epitome of the limitless potential of the human voice as an instrument of artistic articulation. It pushes the boundaries of auditory perception, inciting intellectual contemplation and emotional immersion in equal measure.


Sunday, September 17, 2023

"Defender Sect" for Marimba


"Defender Sect" for Marimba

Bil Smith Composer

Published by LNM Editions

"Defender Sect" eschews the conventional musical notation system and instead embraces a divergent set of combinatorial tablatures. This departure from the norm is akin to a magical realism, where the everyday world is infused with elements of the fantastical. Combinations of symbols and patterns on the tablature become the keys to unlocking the secrets of this enchanting composition. The performer like a character in a Marquez novel, must navigate this new reality, deciphering the intricate code to reveal the hidden narrative of the music.

In Marquez's literary world, characters often grapple with the mystical and the inexplicable. Similarly, "Defender Sect" underscores the need for a wholly lucid and impelling vision. Within the intricate web of combinatorial tablatures lies the challenge of control amidst chaos. The Marimbist is called upon not merely to play the notes but to become custodians of an enigmatic realm. He/She must possess a vision that allows one to remain aloof from potentially enthralling novelties within the composition, to control and not simply be controlled by its mesmerizing intricacies.

This composition takes the performer on a journey that traverses profound continuities and significant ruptures. The oscillating tablatures create an ever-shifting landscape, where musical themes evolve and intertwine, only to be suddenly disrupted by unexpected twists. The composition challenges our perception of time and continuity, akin to a portrayal of the past, present, and future coexisting in a magical realist tale.

Within the realm of the score, visual metaphors abound resembling ancient glyphs or cryptic manuscripts which serve as a visual representation of my capacity for detachment and projection. The Marimbist is tasked not only with playing the notes but with interpreting these visual symbols, weaving them into the sonic tapestry.

NEW PAGES TO SCORE: "The Magnesium Device Whose Undulations Lulled Me Into the Illusion" for 'Maroon' (A Newly Designed Brass Instrument from Thomas Inderbinen)

for 'Maroon' (A Newly Designed Brass/Trumpet Variation from Thomas Inderbinen)

Bil Smith Composer

Published by LNM Editions

About 'Maroon':

"Maroon" is a newly developed instrument from Thomas Inderbinen. It is played with a trumpet mouthpiece but the construction is more like a flugelhorn. The Maroon is characterized by a very big, warm sound which can nevertheless be centered in the direction of a trumpet. It has an unbelievably easy response in the low as well as in the high register. In the words of Inderbinen "The barriers between trumpet and flugelhorn have fallen, and a new dimension in the sound of wind instruments has been created."

The first three pages of the score with inspiration from Lucio Fontana, Mimmo Totaro, Cage's Fontana Mix and Neville Brody.  
Published by LNM Editions

"Windless Hall". The Tactile Score. For One or Two Percussionists.



Recording on Laboratorie New Music label, Premiere Recording: Darmstadt, 2012


The performer may choose up to fourteen separate percussion instruments to use throughout the performance. Whatever number of instruments the performer chooses, he/she must engage all instruments throughout the performance with frequency of use determined by the performer. It would therefore be feasible that an instrument be stricken but once (and potentially imperceptibly inaudible).

The performer may arrange the boxes in any manner seen fit. They may remain inside the large box or removed from the large box and placed at the discretion of the performer. A box may be turned, flipped or relocated at any time during the performance.

The materials represent consistencies to be aspired to during the piece. In the colophon, each material is defined and while the performer will create their own personal syntacticon based on these performance notes (found in the colophon), the tactile representation of the materials as they appear and reappear should remain consistent. Here the boxes and imagery profusely expand the vocabulary nurtured by symbolic masks, autobiographical events, and references to painting styles and spontaneous thoughts.

An innate inclination toward the geometric as is the overwhelmingly panoramic surface of the small scale painting found as hidden gems in the small reliefs.

"Natural Macrocycles" for Cello

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Constant Marble SlitBreaker for Alto Flute

"Constant Marble SlitBreaker"

 for Kingma System Alto Flute

Bil Smith Composer

Published by LNM Editions

Sunday, September 10, 2023

"Galador" for Piano. 3'16". Bil Smith Composer

"Galador" for Piano.  


Bil Smith Composer

The score for "Galador" presents a fusion of conceptual schemata, evoking geometrical figures, numbers, and cryptic notations reminiscent of an artist's notebook. This collage of symbols, akin to Boldano's fragmented narratives, invites the viewer—or in this case, the pianist—to navigate a complex web of meanings and associations.

The paradox within "Galador" lies in its simultaneous embrace of contemporary epistemology and the retention of the values of pictorial sensibility. It pushes the boundaries of artistic expression, embracing both the intellectual and the sensual aspects of compositional interpretation. The score employs diagrams, modular structures, and serial arrangements, alluding to the universals of mathematics and linguistics. These elements serve as a testament to the ever-evolving nature of composition's ability to adapt to new forms of expression.

The use of graphic elements mirrors the calligraphic tradition of Twombly's painting, imbuing the composition with an expressive, gestural quality. It is as if the score becomes a canvas upon which the composer's emotions and interpretations are painted.

The exploration of graffiti-like symbols and abstract forms within "Galador" harks back to a fascination with the mundane and the everyday. Like graffiti scrawled in unexpected places, these symbols in the score provide sociological referents, inviting the pianist to contemplate their meaning and significance within the context of the composition.

The rejection of Surrealist automatism in the later stages of "Galador" parallels the shift from superimposed layers of graffiti to recognizable clues and regressive imagery reflects a desire to engage with the performer on a more visceral level.


Saturday, September 9, 2023

Spatial Constructivism


Spatial Constructivism is a term I use to define an unconventional notation that is complex and requires a virtuoso with exceptional musical and cognitive abilities to execute. This system is based on the principles of paratactic and dissipative structures, as well as on the principles of Constructivism in art and architecture.

It is deliberately difficult to interpret and execute.

It is paratactic in structure, meaning that it is composed of a series of distinct and independent units that are juxtaposed with each other in order to create a larger whole. These units may be individual notes or compound diagrammatic notes, or they could be more complex musical phrases or sections.

Each unit is represented in the notation system by a unique symbol or graphic element, and the performer is required to interpret and execute each unit individually, while also integrating it into the larger context of the piece.

At the same time, the notation system is dissipative in nature, meaning that the performer would need to constantly adapt and respond to changing musical and cognitive contexts. The system might involve elements of chance, forcing the performer to react spontaneously to unexpected events or stimuli.

Additionally, the notation incorporates elements of feedback or self-correction, allowing the performer to modify their approach based on the results of previous performances or on real-time sensory input.

There is a clear emphasis on the use of geometric forms and patterns, as well as the manipulation of space and perspective, in order to create a sense of depth, dynamism, and interactivity within the notation system. This system incorporates elements of visual art, such as colors, textures, or shading, in order to convey information about tempo, dynamics, or other musical parameters.

The score is developed based on the idea that music can be thought of as a physical construct that exists in space and time. This construct can be visualized as a three-dimensional object with multiple dimensions, each representing a different aspect of the music, such as pitch, duration, volume, and timbre. These dimensions can be manipulated in space, creating a complex interplay between the various elements of the music.

"An Air of Eerie Exoticism" For Clarinet and Flute. For Hanan Hadzajlic, Flute and Vasa Vučković, Clarinet

"An Air Of Eerie Exoticism"

Flute and Clarinet

Bil Smith Composer

For Hanan Hadzajlic, Flute and Vasa Vučković, Clarinet

World Premiere, June, 2017

Link to Full Score: