Sunday, December 31, 2023

When Text Becomes the Notation. The Text Score

Gone are the days when musical scores were confined to the rigid lines and dots of standard notation. Today, composers are experimenting with scripts of words, sentences, and textual expressions as the framework for their musical creations. This novel method is not just a shift in notation; it's a complete reimagining of the performer's role and the audience's experience.

Imagine a violinist, traditionally trained to read and interpret classical scores, now faced with a sheet of poetry or a narrative excerpt. Each word, each phrase, becomes a cue for musical interpretation. The pitch, tempo, and dynamics are no longer dictated by traditional musical symbols but are inferred from the emotional and semantic content of the text. This approach demands a new level of creativity and emotional intelligence from performers, who must now become adept at translating linguistic nuances into musical expression.

Consider this: At what point do our objects, our musical instruments, the texts we read, become extensions of us? Or inversely, when do we morph into mere extensions of these objects, these texts? This is not just a question of physicality but of essence, of being. In a world where music is guided by the ebbs and flows of text, the boundary that separates self from other, or inside from outside, becomes intriguingly permeable.

The concept becomes even more radical when we ponder the rearrangeability of these boundaries. In a conventional orchestra, a violinist is just a violinist, a cellist merely a cellist, bound by the physicality of their instruments and the strictures of their music sheets. But in this new realm, where words guide music interpretation, a musician becomes a poet, a storyteller, a sculptor of soundscapes, unconfined by the traditional borders of their role.

Henry Miller, in his defiance of literary norms, often blurred the lines between the writer and the written, the observer and the observed. Similarly, in this textual approach to music composition, the line between the composer and the performer, the score and the interpretation, is deliciously muddled. 

The performer, interpreting text, must navigate these fluid boundaries, deciding in the moment whether to be a vessel for the music or the architect of it.

This exploration into text-based composition is not just a musical endeavor; it’s an ontological one. It asks profound questions about our identity as creators and interpreters. Just as Miller's prose dissected the human experience, this new musical form dissects the experience of creation and performance. It forces us to confront the transient nature of our identities, our roles, and our creations.

This innovative use of text in composition is also redefining the audience's experience. The listeners are no longer just passive recipients of predetermined melodies and harmonies. Instead, they are invited into a more engaged and subjective experience. As the performers interpret the text, the music becomes a reflection of that interpretation, offering a multitude of perspectives and emotional landscapes. Each performance, inherently unique in its interpretation of the text, becomes a conversation between the composer, the performer, and the audience.

The potential for diversity in expression is vast. A single piece of text can be interpreted in myriad ways, depending on the performer's perspective, emotional state, and artistic choices. This opens up a realm of possibilities where a single composition can give rise to a spectrum of musical renditions, each as valid and compelling as the next.

Furthermore, this approach democratizes the compositional process. Text-based notation is inherently more accessible than traditional musical notation, allowing composers from various backgrounds to express their musical ideas. It also encourages collaboration across disciplines, inviting poets, writers, and storytellers to contribute to the musical creative process.

However, this radical shift is not without its challenges. The subjective nature of text interpretation can lead to vastly different performances of the same piece, potentially causing inconsistencies and confusion. The lack of a standardized system for text-based notation also poses a challenge for widespread adoption and understanding.

Despite these challenges, the use of text as a compositional tool represents a significant leap forward in the evolution of music. It breaks down barriers between different art forms, encourages innovative thinking among composers and performers, and offers audiences a more immersive and personal experience.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Friday, December 29, 2023

"Pillars Asymmetrica" for Schilke E3L-4 4 Valve E Flat Trumpet (Link to PDF Score)

"Pillars Asymmetrica"

for Schilke E3L-4 4 Valve E Flat Trumpet

Bil Smith Composer

Link to Full Score PDF


"Idelytic" for Viola. Link to Hi-Res PDF Score


For Viola

Bil Smith Composer

26" X 14"

Link to Hi-Res PDF Score

"An Issue Of Fair Water". For Harp. Link To PDF Score, 7505 Pages

"An Issue Of Fair Water"

For Harp

Bil Smith Composer

The Complete Score (7505 pages)

Link To PDF Score:

"An Issue Of Fair Water" for Harp: A colossal odyssey spread across 7505 pages, challenging the very essence of traditional harp composition and performance.

"An Issue Of Fair Water" is vast.

Comprising 7505 pages, this score explores a new musical landscape comprised of a singular alternative notational archetype. This compositional ontology is based on a singular system inspired by Damien Hirst's 'Circles' and 'Dots' work which defines the basis for an endless exploration of form.

Each page uses the grid-formula to explore various sequential dot system combinations; each series of notational elements a unique in its placement. Despite the way in which this appears to be formulaic, the spot arrangement and sequence retain a sense of expressiveness in their choice of placement that is informed by intuitive logic.

The dots are uniform in size, but the placement follows no discernible pattern, creating a visual field that is simultaneously ordered and chaotic. This juxtaposition of the methodical and the random, the structured and the haphazard, mirrors the underlying philosophy of this notational system..

The sheer volume of this work speaks to its complexity and depth, inviting harpists into a world where each page turn reveals new surprises and challenges.

It’s a piece that doesn’t just demand technical proficiency but a deep, intuitive understanding of music as a form of expression and art. You can access the complete score of "An Issue Of Fair Water" for Harp through the link provided above.

This score is not just for harpists but for anyone interested in the evolution of musical composition and the endless possibilities of sound.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

"White Pumice Fossilizing The Dusty Heat Trap". Bil Smith Composer for Two Violas

"White Pumice Fossilizing The Dusty Heat Trap".  Bil Smith Composer for Two Violas (Score Excerpt)

"White Pumice Fossilizing The Dusty Heat Trap"

 for Two Violas 

Bil Smith Composer

World Premiere SER Conference August 26, 2015
Manchester, U.K.

Commissioned by GE Wind Turbines 
for the 6th World Conference on Ecological Restoration.

"White Pumice Fossilizing The Dusty Heat Trap".  Bil Smith Composer for Two Violas (Score Excerpt)

"White Pumice Fossilizing The Dusty Heat Trap".  Bil Smith Composer for Two Violas (Score Excerpt)

"White Pumice Fossilizing The Dusty Heat Trap".  Bil Smith Composer for Two Violas (Score Excerpt)

"White Pumice Fossilizing The Dusty Heat Trap".  Bil Smith Composer for Two Violas (Score Excerpt)

"White Pumice Fossilizing The Dusty Heat Trap".  Bil Smith Composer for Two Violas (Score Excerpt)

"White Pumice Fossilizing The Dusty Heat Trap".  Bil Smith Composer for Two Violas (Score Excerpt)

"Tolerances of the Sub-Human Facade" For Gustavo Chab. For Three (3) Female Voices. The Score.

Gustavo Chab At Darmstadt

The Score Cover.  Score Published By Laboratorie New Music Editions

Tolerances of the Sub-Human Facade.  

For Gustavo Chab.

For Three (3) Female Voices.

Bil Smith Composer

World Premier, Miller Theater.  January 5, 2016

Columbia University, New York, NY

A Commission from Japan Post Holdings and Banco Bradesco (Brazil)

The Complete Score Published by Laboratorie New Music Editions

The Performance Notes

Gustavo Chab