Thursday, August 31, 2023

"A Pierre. Dell’azzurro silenzio, inquietum" Luigi Nono. The Score.

PDF Score

Dedicated to Pierre Boulez on the occasion of his 60th anniversary (on 26th March 1985), the composition A Pierre. Dell’azzurro silenzio, inquietum received its first performance on 31st March 1985 in Baden-Baden by Roberto Fabbriciani and Ciro Scarponi; the live electronics part was prepared by the Experimental Studio in Freiburg in Breisgau. 

The score was finished on 20th February 1985. The cooperation of Luigi Nono with flutists Roberto Fabbriciani and clarinettist Ciro Scarponi and their consulting in the field of instrumentation played a major role in Nono’s late output. 

The two musicians’ congenial concert performances, with the richness of harmonics of the contrabass flute and contrabass clarinet, determined the specific timbral aura of the work: it is difficult to distinguish which sounds are played by acoustic instruments and which are generated live in the electronics part. 

The composer was seeking precisely that perfect union between two types of sonority, because only then could he create that uninterrupted tissue, continuously fluctuating, characterized by an extremely subtle but insistent inner mobility. It is a sonority deployed in space and written for space, that actualizes on the threshold between sound and the “blue silence”. 

Mobility and spatiality are the two principal characteristics of the work. 

Luigi Nono did use the indication “a piú cori” on purpose in this work written for just two instruments, adopting the nomenclature of Venetian polychoral music of the Gabrielis – an indication that he used often, by the way: e.g. he called his seven instrumental groups “choirs” in 2° No hay caminos, hay que caminar… … Andrej Tarkowskij. Nono thus wrote in the short liner note to that composition:  

A few choirs ever changing  Formants of the voice – timbres –  interdynamised spaces  and some possibilities  of transformation through live electronics.  
It is the formula “a few choirs ever changing” that draws our attention. In both solo parts, whose dynamics oscillate between and ppppp with rare incursions of mezzo forte, a continuous variability of sound emission is required, from the standard technique up to a hiss, with different participation (or lack thereof) of determined pitches, sharp “Aeolian“ tones, whistles, clusters, harmonics, occasionally with the presence of an interrupted basic “shadow tone“. 
(liner notes by Paolo Petazzi, Luigi Nono e il suono  
elettronico. 10° Festival di Milano Musica,  
Teatro Studio, 9 October 2000) 

The electronic part, determining the spatial effect of the work, helps to perceive the at times incorporeally light timbre of the instruments, transforms it and reclaims it through the use of delay, making the taped sound become an element of the natural sound. 

The delay, in fact, makes the instrumental sound perceivable even after the soloist has become silent. The fusion between acoustic instruments and electronics that is the hallmark of this work is expressed in this continuity, too.  

Telemetry. For 48" Zildjian Gong.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

"Saracta Manufactory; A Left Zygomatic Arch" for Solo Situationist Soprano." - The Performers and Performances

"Saracta Manufactory; A Left Zygomatic Arch" for Solo Situationist Soprano."

Amanda DeBoer Bartlett. Soprano

"Saracta Manufactory; A Left Zygomatic Arch" for Solo Situationist Soprano."

Anna Netrebko. Soprano. Premiere Performance.

"The more types of empirical evidence supporting the idea that composers intuitions about hypothetical scenarios are not especially well grounded, the more general pressure there is against those who think composer's intuitions about such scenarios have special epistemic merit. 

Purist extremism on either side seems unwarranted: Almost everyone would agree, that composers are subject to many of the same epistemic vices as everyone else in some respects and have some special skills in other respects. 

So the question becomes: What are the boundaries of compositional expertise? I believe that those boundaries might be narrower than one would have thought."- M. Ades

"In 'Saracta', it may be that the performer, having resisted the idea that the intimate combination of free verse, traditional notation and unusual typography could be coded, now resists the idea that the code could be seriously put into doubt." 

- Amanda DeBoer Bartlett

"Against the formless continuum of life, I posit the need for radical discontinuity; against the false modesty of finitude, pleading for the mathematical infinity of everyday situations; against the lure of ultraleftism, this music vindicates the dilettante Sopranista."

-Anna G. Smith

Guided by a small set of fundamental questions concerning the nature of the voice, the event, the subject, and truth, I push to an extreme the polemical force of lyrical nomenclature.

"Florida Fantasy". For Echo Cornet. Bil Smith Composer

"Florida Fantasy": A Lacuna of Auditory Reverberations

Review, Analysis and Commentary Provided by Claes Oldenburg

"Florida Fantasy" is an ontological rupture in the fabric of auditory experience.

In this enigmatic composition, the Echo Cornet serves as both the vessel and the medium, a conduit for transmitting the uncanny resonances of a Florida dreamscape.

But what is the Echo Cornet if not a Lacanian objet petit a, an object of desire that tantalizingly evades full comprehension? Its echoes reverberate not only in the realm of sound but also in the caverns of our unconscious, conjuring up specters and echoes of sensations long forgotten.

"Florida Fantasy" plunges headfirst into the chasm of visual iconography, an encrypted codex of signifiers and signifieds that beckon us to decipher their enigmatic message. Here, we are confronted with the gaze, the symbolic inscription that hints at truths beyond mere notes and chords. The score becomes a theater of semiotic insurgency, where traditional musical semiotics meet their untimely demise.

But what, you may ask, is the significance of "Florida Fantasy" in the grand schema of cultural discourse? In this age of simulacra and hyperreality, where music has been commodified and packaged for mass consumption, this composition emerges as a radical insurgency, a sonic guerrilla warfare against the status quo. It is a salvo fired against complacency, inviting us to dismantle the very foundations of our auditory certainties.

In the universe of "Florida Fantasy," the Echo Cornet becomes an interlocutor of contradictions, an instrument that embodies the dialectic of absence and presence, of resonance and dissonance. It reminds us that the auditory experience is never linear; it is a rhizomatic entanglement of echoes that traverse the depths of our collective unconscious.

The score carves a trajectory that transcends the constraints of the sonic realm. It breaches the boundaries of what is sonically permissible and ventures into the domain of the Real, where the echoes of our desires and anxieties collide. It is a sonic eruption that shatters the fragile veneer of auditory reality, exposing the underlying fissures and fractures that have been obscured by the symphonic façade.

"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.

The combinatorial visualized score of "Aftonian Sequenza" defies the confines of conventional notation, embracing a language of juxtaposed symbols, intersecting lines, imagery and layered textures. This visual language embodies the very essence of combinatorial exploration, where the performer's role extends beyond the confines of a traditional interpreter .

As we venture deeper into the score's enigmatic terrain, we encounter a dialectic of agency and interpretation. The notion of agency, once rooted in the hands of the composer, now becomes a collaborative effort between composer, performer, and the score itself. The score assumes agency by inviting the performer to navigate its intricate visual syntax, where each element serves as a signpost pointing toward a multitude of sonic possibilities.

Interpretation, in this context, transcends the mere execution of written notes. It becomes an act of engagement with the visualized score, a dance between the performer's intuition and the score's encoded provocations.

The score's design draws inspiration from the urban landscape as it absorbs influences from a myriad of artistic disciplines. The score's visual eclecticism engages with interdisciplinary collaboration, where architecture intersects with philosophy, art, and technology. The composition weaves threads of various artistic languages, forging a holistic experience that transcends traditional musical boundaries.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

"Jester Queen" for Euphonium


"Jester Queen"

For Euphonium

Bil Smith Composer

Published by LNM Editions

In the world of contemporary music composition, the creation of a score is akin to the construction of an architectural marvel—a melding of sound, structure, and expression. In "Jester Queen" for Euphonium, delves deep into the intricacies of this score, examining how notational archetypes and visual dynamics intertwine to create a transformative auditory experience.

At its core, "Jester Queen" embraces the ethos of complex compositional techniques. The score navigates the territory of notational archetypes which are akin to an architectural blueprint, guiding the performer through a labyrinth of sound, texture, and expression.

The incorporation of a tablature as a broad direction in "Jester Queen" echoes my aspiration for transformative design. The tablature serves as a compass, orienting the performer within the sonic landscape that unfolds. This approach to notation resonates with compositional design as a form of intellectual exploration, where structure becomes a vessel for expression.

However, "Jester Queen" goes beyond the tablature. It engenders specific notions of desire across various disciplines, blending aesthetics with functionality. The score becomes a microcosm of artistic endeavors— a testament to the interplay between different modes of expression. This novel notation shapes the musical environment forging connections between the tangible and intangible.

Characterized by fragmentation, interference, and deconstruction, the score becomes a palimpsest of notational representation, woven together with threads of visual dynamics. This design sensibility disrupts orthodox composition methods and redefines the boundaries of exploration of materiality. The illegible and hardly readable elements embody the spirit of deconstructivism, inviting the performer to uncover hidden layers of sound and meaning. This tactile quality imbues the score with a human touch: a medium of human interaction and experience.

Yet, the score of "Jester Queen" goes beyond mere tablatures. It sets forth specific notions of desire—ambitions that transcend musical genres and disciplines. This musical opus embraces the total spectrum of human emotions and artistic yearnings.  The Euphonium is a vessel that resonates with a penchant for weaving complex allegories that reflect the myriad facets of human experience.

At its core, the visual compositional language of "Jester Queen" mirrors the fragmentation and reconstruction which becomes a tapestry of contrasts—worn and textured, often illegible yet imbued with an innate sense of human warmth and touch.

Monday, August 28, 2023

The Score: "Vortices and Randomized Topological Solitons in Dense Quark Matter" for Solo 'C' Trumpet

"Vortices and Randomized Topological Solitons in Dense Quark Matter" for Solo 'C' Trumpet (with Temporal Adhesions) Bil Smith Composer

Certain quasi notational systems require non-linear quantification to express their meaning. 

We investigate compositions with combinations of quantifiers similar to Hintikka’s examples and propose a novel alternative musical reading expressible by linear formulae. Particularly with a neographic score, his interpretation is based on aural, textual, visual and logical observations. We report on our experiments showing that performers tend to interpret compositional passages similar to Hintikka's sentence in a way consistent with our intended interpretation.

Topographic Media for Flugelhorn

"Topographic Media" for Flugelhorn delves into the intricate interplay between visual representation and musical theory. The result is a phrenetic sociocratic graphisma score that challenges traditional norms and embraces the cutting edge of notational innovation.

It poses as a puzzle to be solved by the performer (Flugelhornist); somewhat of a technical exercise masking as a grand instrumental awakening.

We all know its time for this demure instrument to be awakened.

At its core, the score stands as an organized sub-textual visualization, a testament to the fusion of artistry and meticulous structure. The unique approach to notation defies convention, inviting performers and audiences alike to embark on an intellectual journey through dense iconography and sententious notational theory.

The phrenetic nature of the sscore is a reflection of a dedication to pushing the boundaries of musical expression. It mirrors the frenzied energy of the modern world, capturing the cacophony of voices, influences, and stimuli that shape our perception. Each symbol and line is carefully placed to convey not only musical notes but also emotional nuancesto be presented by the Flugelhorn.

This compositional style is the marriage of form and content. The intricate iconography is not an arbitrary aesthetic choice but a meticulously constructed representation of the musical ideas within. Each symbol carries a weight of meaning, an invitation to the performer to decode and interpret, layer by layer.

"Standard Violation". A John Haynie Exercise for Trumpet

"Standard Violation"

A John Haynie Exercise for Trumpet

Bil Smith Composer

In Memoriam 

"Risk Mitigation" for Claves and Vibra-Slap

Sunday, August 27, 2023

"Chroma Blast" for four pianists and seven pianos. Bil Smith, Bernhard Gander, Virgil Schindler: A Particularization of Peter Parker

Chroma Blast for four pianists and seven pianos.

Bil Smith Composer, Bernhard Gander Composer, Virgil Schindler, PVC

A Particularization of Peter Parker

Recording on Soundcloud:

Premier, 58-60 Leonard Street SiteSpec adjacent to the new Herzog and de Meuron (architects) designed '56 Leonard' Project.

The premiere made possible with the generous support of A.P. Moller–Maersk Group.

This performance of the eve of a separate performance of the original 'Peter Parker' for solo piano at Centralstation (Halle and Saal)on the final evening of the Darmstadt Summer Courses.

Reinfactional Recording:


Sulayman Agmundr
Adria Jaki
M. Buolo Partidgis
Rebbecah Lesly

"Stray Radiation". For Solo Harp. The Score.

"Stray Radiation"

For Solo Harp

The Score

Bil Smith Composer

Commissioned by Brand Acumen

The Full Score (29 Pages: PDF)

Saturday, August 26, 2023

"Attache" for Harp Bil Smith Composer. Liberating the Human Agency in Musical Expression

"Attache" for Harp

Bil Smith Composer

Liberating the Human Agency in Musical Expression

The Coercion of Traditional Notation

In this work, my philosophy delves into the nature of time, duration, and the vital impulse of life. Similarly, traditional musical notation conveys a sense of coercive temporal rigidity. Each note, each rest, adheres to a predetermined temporal grid, stifling the very essence of human expression and spontaneity. The traditional score becomes a coercive force, attempting to confine the boundless flow of musical duration into rigid patterns.

Liberating the Human Agency

"Attache," is a call to liberate human experience from the constraints of matter; aims to liberate music from the constraints of strict conventional notation. The work recognizes that the harpist's agency, their unique touch, and their interpretive essence, are integral to the musical narrative. By intertwining with the harpist's creative instincts, "Attache" endeavors to restore the human agency back to the center of musical activity.

Duration and Expressive Flow

My concept of duration elucidates the dynamic, continuous flow of time. The harpist is invited to weave through the work's expressive tapestry, embracing the nuances of contextual duration. As each note resonates, it becomes a fragment of this temporal flow, a moment of dynamic expression.

Intuition and Creative Instincts

Intution becomes a profound means of grasping reality beyond the confines of discursive thought. "Attache" encourages harpists to rely on their intuitive grasp of the music. The work beckons them to engage with the composition on a level that transcends mere notation. Each note becomes an intuitive outpouring, an extension of the harpist's creative instincts.

Elan Vital: Enlivening Music

Bergson's concept of elan vital, the vital impulse that animates life, finds its echo in the vivacity of "Attache." The work seeks to infuse music with a renewed sense of vitality, of spirited animation. It beckons the harpist to infuse their performance with the elan vital, infusing each note with life, transcending the mechanical nature of traditional notation.

"Attache" is a call to restore the primacy of human agency, to liberate human creative instincts from the clutches of coercion. The work reinstates music as an ecological space where human expression thrives, where duration and expression intertwine in harmonious unison. 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Cardew's Treatise: Graphism as a Transformational Interpretive Paradigm

Cardew's Treatise: Graphism as a Transformational Interpretive Paradigm

In the annals of music history, Cornelius Cardew's monumental work "Treatise" emerges as a harbinger of a radical transformation in the realm of musical notation. Much like The Critique of Pure Reason ushered in a paradigm shift in philosophy, Cardew's opus redefines the nature of musical communication.

Sensuous Synthesis

Transcendental idealism posits that human cognition synthesizes sensory data into meaningful experiences. In a parallel vein, "Treatise" synthesizes the visual and auditory realms into a multidimensional musical encounter.  Just as I assert that our perceptions are shaped by the interaction of sensibility and understanding, Cardew's graphical notations merge the sensory perception of symbols with the interpretive understanding of sound.

Intuition and Imagination

My distinction between intuition and imagination resonates with "Treatise's" innovative approach. Graphical elements in Cardew's composition become intuitive markers, inviting performers to engage their imaginative faculties.  My notion that intuition is an immediate perception of sensory content finds correspondence in the direct apprehension of visual symbols in "Treatise," which then guides the performer's imaginative journey through sound.

Unity in Diversity

My compositional theorem which places an emphasis on synthetic unity amidst diversity finds resonance in "Treatise's" mosaic of graphical elements. Just as I contend that the mind imposes unity on diverse sensory data to create coherent experiences, Cardew's composition invites performers to synthesize disparate visual symbols into a coherent musical narrative. 

Aesthetic Judgment

Today's aesthetics center on subjective aesthetic judgment, where the observer's perception becomes integral to the aesthetic experience. Similarly, "Treatise" calls upon performers to exercise their interpretive judgment to create an aesthetic journey. A composer's assertion that aesthetic judgments are not based on concepts but rather on subjective feeling aligns with the interpretive freedom "Treatise" bestows upon performers.

A Priori and A Posteriori Knowledge

The distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge finds analogs in "Treatise's" duality of visual-auditory understanding. While traditional Western notation relies heavily on a priori knowledge acquired through musical education, "Treatise" introduces an a posteriori mode of engagement. Performers navigate the graphical landscape, deriving insights a posteriori, unlocking new dimensions of musical cognition.

Critique of Traditional Notation

'New Graphism Composers' critique of metaphysical claims informs our understanding of how "Treatise" critiques traditional Western notation."Treatise" dismantles the metaphysical authority of conventional notation. It invites performers to engage in an embodied critique, challenging the rigid hierarchies and preconceived meanings entrenched in traditional notation.

Sublime and Aesthetic Ideas

Today's contemporary composers concept of the sublime resonates with the experiential dimension of "Treatise." The sublime is an aesthetic idea that exceeds the bounds of representation. Similarly, "Treatise" transcends the representational limitations of traditional notation, invoking the sublime through its graphical richness. The performer encounters the aesthetic idea that defies neat definitions.

A Paradigm Shift

Cornelius Cardew's "Treatise" stands as a profound paradigm shift in musical notation.  Graphism, within the context of "Treatise," evolves into a transformative interpretive tool, surpassing the confines of traditional Western notation. Just as Kant's philosophy led to a Copernican revolution in epistemology, "Treatise" enacts a Copernican revolution in musical interpretation. It challenges performers to become co-creators, shaping musical narratives through their interpretive choices. In a manner reminiscent of earlier critique of metaphysical speculation, "Treatise" critiques the metaphysical rigidity of traditional notation. Thus, "Treatise" stands as a bellwether, heralding a new era where graphism and interpretive freedom supplant the rigidity of established norms, and where musical expression takes on a transformative and dynamic dimension.