Tuesday, April 25, 2023

"Periphrasis" A Brief Event For Solo B Flat Trumpet


A Brief Event For Solo B Flat Trumpet

Bil Smith Composer

Published by LNM Editions

(Laboratorie New Music)

A Commission By Origin Energy

Link To Hi-Res PDF Score:

Periphrasis... a circumlocution, a roundabout expression that avoids naming something by its most direct term. Since it is constituted through a culturally perceived relationship to a word or phrase that it is not, periphrasis has no distinctive form of its own but articulates itself variously through other figures

Sunday, April 23, 2023

"The Illusion Of Control" For Bass Flute. Bil Smith Composer


"The Illusion Of Control"

For Bass Flute

Bil Smith Composer

32" X 12"

Link to PDF

"The Illusion of Control" for bass flute inspired by Leonora Carrington is a product of my compositional bounding theory and augmented notational archetypes. It is an exploration of the multidimensional sound-world of the bass flute, a defined space within which I can move rationally. Through this work, I aim to create a sonic landscape that is both distinctive and transformative, building upon the rich legacy of physical perceptions and cultural traditions that have shaped the bass flute over time.

Leonora Carrington is a writer whose imaginative worlds have inspired generations of creative thinkers. Her unique vision of the world, infused with a sense of mystery and wonder, serves as a powerful backdrop for my exploration of the bass flute's sonic potential.

At the core of my compositional approach is an emphasis on listening to the particularity and differences of the instrument. I seek out possible points of contact and connections between dimensions that retain their autonomy, exploring the boundaries of my own models of representation to discover new facets of sound. This process requires a level of vigilance and sensitivity, as every detail can constitute an illuminating difference or remarkable connection.

This piece is not simply a representation of the bass flute's sound-world, but a transformation of it. Through the performer's concrete actions, the practice and intelligence of the sound are inscribed upon the body and the space in the ritual and impersonal dimension of the common listening. Sound, body, listening, space, and community cannot be separated, and each element plays a critical role in shaping the final sonic landscape.

The bass flute, with its unusual distribution of sound sources and audience, offers a unique opportunity to create a complex, visionary multiphony. The dishomogeneity and dispersive potential of the instrument's attack become the power center for articulated relationships, creating forms and degrees of resonances that are apparent in their peculiarities. The resulting sound fills the entire space, stimulating a constantly unbalanced, asymmetrical mode of listening.

In creating this work, I rely heavily on augmented notational archetypes. These archetypes allow me to explore the full range of sonic possibilities offered by the bass flute, pushing the boundaries of traditional notation to create new forms of representation. By augmenting traditional notation with a range of graphical and symbolic elements, I am able to capture the unique characteristics of the bass flute's sound and translate them into a visual language that speaks to the imagination and the intellect.

At the same time, my work is grounded in a compositional bounding theory that emphasizes the importance of defined spaces and boundaries. By working within the constraints of these boundaries, I am able to create a sense of structure and coherence that allows the work to unfold in a meaningful way. The boundaries serve as a guide, allowing me to explore the full potential of the bass flute while still maintaining a sense of discipline and control.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Hyper-Complex Notational Ontologies by Bil Smith


In contemporary music composition, the proliferation of hyper-complex notational ontologies has challenged traditional notions of musical score and performance. Inspired by the works of Brian Ferneyhough, Adorno, and Wilhelm Reich, composers are experimenting with unconventional approaches to notation, often violating the score in ways that parallel the works of visual artists such as Albert Burri, Lucio Fontana, and Enrico Castellani. 

Central to this discussion is the idea that notation is not merely a means of representing musical ideas but can itself be a generative force. Ferneyhough's music is characterized by a hyper-complexity of notation, which often involves a proliferation of symbols, unconventional time signatures, and microtonal inflections. The result is music that is both intricate and visceral, requiring a virtuosic performance technique that often pushes the boundaries of what is possible on an instrument.

Similarly, Adorno's writings on music and aesthetics have emphasized the importance of complexity and dissonance in the creation of new sonic experiences. For Adorno, the dissonance of music reflects the discordance of modern life, and the complexity of music is a response to the overwhelming complexity of contemporary society. Through his work, Adorno sought to challenge traditional notions of harmony and tonality, opening up new avenues for experimentation and creativity.

Wilhelm Reich's theories of Orgone energy have also had an impact on contemporary music composition, particularly in the development of sonorescence, a technique that involves introducing heat to an instrument to create new sounds. Reich's ideas about the connection between energy and the body have led some composers to explore the physicality of sound and the ways in which it can be manipulated.

Adorno's critique of the "culture industry" and its homogenizing effects on art can be seen as a direct challenge to traditional modes of musical expression. Similarly, Reich's concept of "muscular armor" and his interest in the role of the body in musical performance can be seen as a direct challenge to traditional Western notions of virtuosity and performance.

One consequence of the proliferation of hyper-complex notational ontologies is the potential for the violation of the score in ways that parallel the works of visual artists such as Burri, Fontana, and Castellani. Burri's use of combustion in his work, Fontana's piercing of his canvases, and Castellani's patterning of perforations are all examples of artists using physical interventions to create new visual experiences. Similarly, composers are exploring ways in which the score can be violated, opening up new possibilities for sonic experimentation.

One example of this is the use of extreme extended techniques, which often re-invent the timbral characteristics and sonorities of an instrument. These techniques can involve the use of unconventional playing techniques, such as scraping or bowing the instrument in unusual ways, or the introduction of electronic effects and processing. The result is music that is often harsh and dissonant, challenging traditional notions of harmony and tonality.

Another example is the use of sonorescence, which involves the introduction of heat to an instrument to create new sounds. This technique has been used by composers such as Tristan Murail, who has explored the physicality of sound through the use of heat, and Fausto Romitelli, who has used sonorescence to create new sonic textures and colors.

These ontologies, which allow for a violation of the score much in the way that artists like Albert Burri, Lucio Fontana, and Enrico Castellani have used combustion, piercing, and perforation to create unconventional artworks, are redefining the sonic landscape and expanding the possibilities of musical expression. 

My approach to creating unconventional and at times confrontational music scores is also relevant in this context. My works often incorporate unconventional notations and extended techniques, and are known for a confrontational style and a willingness to challenge the traditional boundaries of musical expression. My compositions, like those of Ferneyhough and others who use hyper-complex notational ontologies, are often seen as challenging the dominant modes of musical expression.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

"Mimetized Disasters, Dan Quayle And His Evangelist Wife In A Hotel Room". The Score and Transparencies

"Mimetized Disasters, Dan Quayle And His Evangelist Wife In A Hotel Room". Page One

"Mimetized Disasters, Dan Quayle And His Evangelist Wife In A Hotel Room". 



Piccolo Saxophone
(Eppelsheim - Soprillo)


B Flat Trumpet

The Score and Transparencies

Bil Smith Composer

A Commission from Time Warner

"Mimetized Disasters..." explores a rhythm that abandons counting, that engages with speed and duration as primary rather than secondary occurrences, and that emerges through the interface between movement and resistance and from models of force, viscosity, and friction. 

In this work, I examine some of the limitations of existing rhythmic notation and, using examples from non-geometrical’ notational approaches. I had been struggling for some time with concerns about an increasing prevalence of notational grids, and
in particular the overwhelming dominance of the horizontal and the vertical in the notation of rhythm

Hyper- Appropriation:

The (The) inevitable violation.  A perfect conversion of the objective sum and a precise allusion.

Transparency One

Transparency Two

"Slipstream of Dust"
 For Solo Cello. Commentary from Michael Kwan

"Slipstream of Dust"

For Cello

Bil Smith Composer

Full Score Link to PDF Download

In the post-modern era of music composition, Bil Smith has emerged as a vanguard of avant-garde musical experimentation. His latest composition, "Slipstream of Dust" for cello, challenges the traditional music notation system and offers a new perspective on musical interpretation.

Using an unconventional notation system, Smith's composition aims to convey the ephemeral nature of dust particles, often disregarded as trivial and insignificant. The cello serves as a conduit for this existential message, its melancholic notes weaving a web of intricate melodies that evoke a sense of introspection and contemplation.

The piece's structure is reminiscent of the stream-of-consciousness technique employed in literature, with the cello serving as the protagonist's inner voice, meandering through the different stages of grief, from denial to acceptance. The sparse use of silence in the composition is a nod to the philosophy of absence, emphasizing the importance of what is not said, rather than what is.

"Slipstream of Dust" challenges the binary oppositions of traditional music notation systems, destabilizing the boundaries between the composer, performer, and listener. By rejecting the hegemonic power of traditional notation, Smith's composition allows for a multiplicity of interpretations and a decentralization of power. The performer becomes a co-creator, reconfiguring the composition with each performance, blurring the distinction between author and reader.

The very existence of "Slipstream of Dust" is predicated on the absence of sound. The silence that permeates the piece is not a void, but a space that invites interpretation and imagination. The composition is haunted by the traces of sound that exist between the notes, echoing the specter of what could have been. In this way, Smith's composition embodies the Derridean notion of différance, where meaning is not fixed, but is constantly deferred and postponed.

The unconventional notation destabilizes the notion of a fixed musical language. By utilizing symbols and markings that are unique to this composition, Smith is creating a language that is fluid and constantly evolving. This disrupts the notion of a musical canon, emphasizing the contingency and temporality of all cultural products.

In conclusion, Bil Smith's "Slipstream of Dust" is a subversive musical composition that challenges the binaries and hierarchies that dominate traditional notation systems. By destabilizing the notion of a fixed musical language, Smith creates a space for multiplicity, interpretation, and imagination. The composition is not a static entity, but a dynamic process that is continually evolving, echoing the Derridean notion of différance.

-Michael Kwan for The Guardian