Sunday, April 14, 2024

"Reality Bends to the Whim" for Viola


"Reality Bends to the Whim" 

for Viola

Bil Smith Composer


Link to Full Score PDF

This piece for Solo Viola presents a complex notational architecture, where each symbol and line transcends its aesthetic form to become a battleground of expression and resistance.

At the very outset, "Reality Bends to the Whim" confronts traditional notions of musical scores as mere repositories of neutral instructions. The piece actively eschews any semblance of formalism, universal language, or the flatness typically associated with conventional scores. Instead, the score's tablature asserts itself through a philosophy of negation and criticality. This is not a passive resistance characterized by indifference or absence, but an active confrontation, marked by a tangible presence and emotional attachment.

The physical presentation of the score further underlines its thematic defiance. In the uneven motific constructions, the notational elements recall the rugged, hand-built walls of ancient civilizations—gridded, girded, gritty, and grouted. Yet, within this seemingly impenetrable structural density, there exists an airiness brought about by deliberate gaps and reveals in the score's construction.

This juxtaposition of solidity and permeability serves as a metaphor for the Violist's ability to oscillate between intense compactness and expansive liberation,

The notational construct is characterized by a duality of being both taut and at times drooping or tangling, where the jagged parts are pieced together in a manner akin to a potchkie—an improvised, often clumsy, yet endearing construction. This textural diversity within the score mirrors the variegated emotional landscape that the composition aims to evoke. The score is scrubbed and stained to various degrees of finish or unfinish, much like an artist's canvas, bearing the marks of its creation process, and in turn, influencing the interpretative journey of the Violist.

The tone of the score carries what might be described as a barometric pressure of moods, shifting across its duration like weather fronts sweeping across a landscape. This meteorological analogy captures the fluid, often unpredictable emotional shifts that the piece demands, engaging the performer in a constant adjustment to the evolving tonal atmosphere.

The hyphenated musical identities hold multiple allegiances. This aspect speaks to a broader, almost cosmological exploration of cultural and musical identities, compressed and expanded within the mosaic of the score. Each note, each marking, each symbol does not merely denote a sound but also encapsulates a universe of historical, cultural, and personal significances that the performer must decode and embody.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

"Psymonic Ratios" for Trumpet. Bil Smith Composer

"Psymonic Ratios"

For Trumpet


Score 32" X 12"

Link to Hi-Def PDF

"Psymonic Ratios" for Trumpet emerges as an exploration extending the boundaries of traditional scorecraft into the spectral domain. Lasting a precise three minutes and twenty-four seconds, this piece not only challenges conventional expectations through its temporal specificity but also through its use of spectral notation constructs.

The foundation of "Psymonic Ratios" forges formal unity from the spectral constructs employed within the score. These constructs do not merely serve as a notation system but act as a canvas where formal unity and incongruity coexist and converse.

The performer must navigate the suggestion of perspective—an invitation to perceive depth and dimensionality, which is then subverted by the very structure that proposes it. This contradiction creates a complex spatial dynamic within the performance, where depth can be hinted at but is never fully realized, much like an optical illusion that tantalizes but never satisfies. The result is a piece that oscillates between flatness and three-dimensionality, constantly challenging the trumpet's auditory and spatial perceptions.

The irregularity of interlocking forms within the score further accentuates this effect. Unlike traditional scores, where measures and phrases often predictably interlock, "Psymonic Ratios" presents a scenario where these forms seem to connect yet remain distinctly apart. This lack of regularity not only disrupts the linear progression of the music but also enhances the overall sense of unpredictability and intrigue.

Color integration within the score adds another layer of complexity and expression. The placement of the colored strips atop the score page challenge the trumpeter to interpret sections not as isolated incidents but as parts of a continuum. This approach encourages a performance that is less about executing discrete musical events and more about weaving a coherent tapestry of sound that reflects the complex layering of colors and emotions, akin to how Richter’s strips overlay translucent colors to create depth and texture.

The inherent ambiguity of using colors instead of precise musical notation grants the trumpeter a significant degree of interpretative latitude. This latitude transforms the performer from a mere executor of predefined musical instructions to an active participant in the creative act. The trumpeter must make real-time decisions about how to translate these visual cues into sound, which demands a high degree of musical sensitivity and imagination.

The piece exudes an unashamed sense of artifice, embracing its constructed nature without pretense. This is paired with an unchecked air of exuberance that permeates the performance, a celebration of the possibilities that arise from stepping outside traditional compositional techniques. The score does not attempt to hide its synthetic qualities; rather, it flaunts them.


Thursday, April 11, 2024

"Elara Eclipse" For Piccolo Saxophone (Soprillo), Inderbinen Big Bell B Flat Trumpet and Theorbo. Bil Smith Composer

"Elara Eclipse"

For Piccolo Saxophone (Soprillo), Inderbinen Big Bell B Flat Trumpet
and Theorbo

Bil Smith Composer


Published by LNM Editions

A Commission from Munich Re

The composition "Elara Eclipse" for Piccolo Saxophone (Soprillo), Inderbinen Big Bell B Flat Trumpet, and Theorbo employs a paratactic notational system which is based on my theorem of juxtaposing musical elements without connecting them in a linear fashion which creates a sense of fragmentation and non-linearity that is characteristic of the postmodernist era in which we live.
The use of the Paratactic notational system is significant because it challenges the traditional approach to music composition, which has often been characterized by a linear, hierarchical structure. In contrast, the Paratactic notational breaks down these structures and allows for a more fluid and open-ended approach to composition.
One of the central themes of the composition is the idea of identity and its construction through power relations. This is reflected in the use of historically diverse instruments and their interaction with each other, which creates a sense of hierarchy and dominance.
At the same time, however, there is also a sense of resistance and subversion that runs through the composition. The different elements challenge and disrupt each other, creating a sense of instability and ambiguity that reflects the fluid nature of identity and power.
The use of the Inderbinen Big Bell B Flat Trumpet and Theorbo also adds a historical dimension to the composition. Both instruments are associated with different time periods and cultural contexts, and their inclusion in the composition creates a sense of continuity and connection between the past and present.


"Paranoic Narratology" for Bass Clarinet. Bil Smith Composer


"Paranoic Narratology"

for Bass Clarinet

Bil Smith Composer

Published by LNM Editions

Link to Full Score PDF:

Now In Hot Attics and Institutional Vaults of Decidedly Sub-Archival ... For Piano. The Score

"Now In Hot Attics and Institutional Vaults of Decidedly Sub-Archival Womblike Moistness 
Our Campaign Ribbons Have Turned The Colors of Cattails and Almond Grass"

For Piano

Bil Smith Composer

The Score:

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

PDF Link to Full Score: "A Sullen And Truculent Citizen." For Chamber Orchestra.

"A Sullen And Truculent Citizen."  

For Chamber Orchestra 

Bil Smith Composer

Commissioned by Banca MPS

The Complete Score: PDF (113 pages)

In "A Sullen And Truculent Citizen," scored for Chamber Orchestra, one finds a notational system that can be said to mirror the very unconscious structuring itself, operating within a Lacanian framework of the symbolic, the imaginary, and the real. The score utilizes a Gallifreyan representational framework interwoven with traditional notational elements, a juxtaposition that destabilizes as much as it defines, allowing for a spiraling set of associations whose burgeoning intractability speaks to the heart of the ineffable in music.

The Gallifreyan constructs, circular and enigmatic, become the locus of the imaginary, seducing the interpreter with their cryptic allure, their promise of meanings perpetually deferred. Here, in these arcane symbols, the score engenders a multiplicity of potentialities, inviting a hermeneutic engagement that simultaneously reveals and conceals the musical intentions. It is in this space that the score "feels suspended"—a concept of the suspended motif that captures the essence of the human condition, hanging between signifier and signified, perpetually in motion.

The musicians, caught in the gravitational pull of this notational behemoth, navigate a minefield of meaning where the paradox of precision and ambiguity reigns supreme. Every performance becomes an act of de-coding, a futile attempt to find a Rosetta Stone for a language that morphs with every glance.

The result is a notational dispositif that oscillates between the familiar and the unknown, creating a dialectic that invites and disavows meaning in equal measure.

"Loosen The Bandage" for Piano

Sunday, April 7, 2024

"Quasiphoric Infinitia" for Clarinet in A, Bass Saxophone and Accordion

"Quasiphoric Infinitia" 

for Clarinet in A, Bass Saxophone and Accordion

Bil Smith Composer


Link to PDF Full Score

"Quasiphoric Infinitia," scored for Clarinet in A, Bass Saxophone, and Accordion, ventures into the realms of hyper-maximalism and the aesthetics of imperfection. I present visual constructs that act as a novel lexicon for the performers. These constructs are deliberately ambiguous and singular, provoking a shift in how performers interact with the score. By requiring the musicians to engage with the score's inherent subjectivity, the piece emphasizes an interpretative process that is exploratory rather than prescriptive.

This approach resonates with the broader philosophical underpinning of the piece, which champions an aesthetics of imperfection. By advocating for an interpretation that "favors questions over answers, contingency over certainty, and openings over closure," the score aligns itself with a view of composition and music as a space for inquiry and dialogue rather than definitive expression.

In the elliptical orbit that "Quasiphoric Infinitia" delineates, the score emerges not as a mere prescriptive text but as a textuality—enigmatic, a cipher for the performers to decode and re-encode in a ceaseless play of différance. This score, in its combinatorial complexity and lexical layering, accomplishes what could only be termed as a preservation of flux—imbuing the performative act with a quality not unlike the lambent apparitions that haunt Derrida's own textual landscapes. Here, the composition does not sit comfortably within the binary oppositions of paradisial escape and mundane reality; rather, it oscillates, vacillates, refusing to be ensnared by either pole, challenging the very notion of a fixed compositional locus.

The visual mélange of the score—this mélange that hints at a surreal compositional landscape—serves not merely as an aesthetic choice but as a strategic deconstruction. It is a form of fictionalized truth, a simulacrum where the authoritative stance of compositional macro-narratives is called into question, interrogated under the spectral light of deconstruction. Here, within the woven fabric of the score, lies a reexamination, a deconstructive critique of the sovereign authority traditionally wielded by the composer, the notational system, the very lexicon of musical discourse.


Friday, April 5, 2024

"Topped Out" for Guitar, Accordion, Viola and Violin

"Topped Out" 

for Guitar, Accordion, Viola and Violin

Bil Smith Composer

"Topped Out" for Guitar, Accordion, Viola, and Violin was created as a testament to the innovative use of combinatorial scores. This piece integrates traditional notational elements with a contrastive lexical system.

The foundational premise of this combinatorial score is its employment of a lexical system that operates in an essentially relational manner. Unlike traditional scores, where notation might serve as a direct instruction for performance, the lexical units in "Topped Out" are defined primarily by their interconnected relationships. These relationships are both paradigmatic, concerning the selection of alternatives based on similarity or dissimilarity, and syntagmatic, pertaining to the combination of units in linear sequences. It is through these networks of relationships that the piece articulates the performers' musical and expressive content.

Drawing from the principles of Meaning-Text theory, the score's lexical system can be likened to a graph or a "social network of lexical units," akin to the structures observed within small world networks. This analogy highlights the non-hierarchical, interconnected nature of the system. Each lexical unit coupled with notational devices, gains significance not in isolation but through its connections to other units within the network. This model is radically distinct from taxonomic approaches to lexicon organization, which traditionally classify lexical units into hierarchical structures.

Performers are required to navigate a score that functions more as a map of relationships and possibilities than a set of prescriptive instructions.

Tranche Notation

The Tranche Notation System

This hyper-complex system incorporates color elements within a zeta-code, while subtly borrowing from the transformative Circos visualization algorithm. Within its labyrinthine design, the Tranche Notation System ushers composers and performers alike into uncharted territory of chromatic narratives and interpretative possibilities.

Coloring the Soundscape: The Zeta-Code Revelation

As if excavated from the depths of a surreal dream, the Tranche Notation System introduces a zeta-code, where musical elements are expressed through a kaleidoscope of colors. This dynamic fusion of visual and auditory sensations shatters the confines of traditional black-and-white musical notation. Like a painter's brush on a blank canvas, the Tranche Notation System allows composers to sculpt their soundscapes with unparalleled freedom, invoking a symphony of chromatic intricacies.

Drawing inspiration from Castellani's mastery of surface and depth, the Tranche Notation System becomes a canvas of unseen depths conveying a fascination with mortality and transformation, inviting performers to traverse a surreal landscape of musical imagery. Much like Castellani's "Superficie Bianca," the notation surface remains deceptively serene, concealing a complex network of colors, visual testaments, discordant lines, and tactile impressions. With each note, a new dimension unfolds.

The Circos Veil: A Transformational Visualization

At the heart of the Tranche Notation System lies an enigmatic secret - the subtle appropriation of the transformative Circos visualization algorithm. Beneath the surface on this compositional archetype lies a Lacanian void, representing a realm of boundless possibilities. This borrowing from Circos serves as a catalyst for transformative potential, offering composers a myriad of options for representing complex musical structures. It further challenges the traditional perception of musical notation as merely linear, unveiling a multidimensional vista of interpretative layers.

Hyper-Complexity: Unlocking the Notational Enigma

Composers embark on a cryptic journey, akin to deciphering an elusive riddle, as they navigate the labyrinth of colors, zeta-codes, and visual arcs. Within this intricate web of signifiers, each shade, line, and curve intertwines with musical meaning.  

Inquiries into ideology resonate as ideology obscures underlying truths allowing for an unmediated encounter with score. By challenging the normative musical conventions, this notation system liberates the performative subjectivity.

The Tranche Notation System captures the ephemeral nature of sound through dynamic symbols in motion. Each musical gesture becomes an artistic alchemy, evoking metamorphosis and renewal.