Sunday, February 4, 2024

"Pirate Geologists and Circuit Couture" for Solo B Flat Trumpet.


"Pirate Geologists and Circuit Couture" 

for Solo B Flat Trumpet.

Bil Smith Composer


40" X 20"

Link to PDF Score

Review and Commentary by Fred Chappel, Author and Poet.

In the avant-garde corridors of contemporary music, few compositions dare to redefine the essence of musical notation and performance with the audacity of "Pirate Geologists and Circuit Couture" for solo B Flat Trumpet. This piece, a bewildering foray into the limits of traditional composition, serves not only as a musical work but as a bold exploration of how we conceive the act of musical notation itself. In it, Bil Smith, the composer transcends the conventional role, embodying a polymathic presence as typographer, notationalist, casting director, photographer, visual designer, and, fundamentally, the composer.

This composition for solo trumpet (Mr. Smith's primary instrument) endeavors to dematerialize the notational object, inviting it to float free of its physical substrate, engaging with a wide array of activities that dramatize abstraction's confluences with history, text, moving image, and pop culture's collective unconscious.

The Composition as a Microcosm

"Pirate Geologists and Circuit Couture" functions as a microcosm of radicality, illustrating that such a quality stems from context rather than form alone. The forms, while seemingly radical, gain their essence through memory, by continuing the once radical through extensions of its history. This continuation leaves a wake that propels the composition forward through a mannerist force. The approach to composition here is intuitive, eschewing strategy for a more spontaneous creation, embodying more the attributes of a cult than those of culture.

Oddly, it is the spatial inaccessibility of the score that introduces a theatrical element to the composition—a theatrics of rupture. This disruptive notational archetype serves as a placeholder for a profound recalibration of subject-object relations, venturing into a phenomenological presence that can be aptly characterized as "aesthetic withdrawal." Whether the notation is columnar, compartmentalized, or perfectly plain, it carries direct addresses to the performer and audience alike, challenging them to reconsider their roles in the musical experience.

The notion of "aesthetic withdrawal" is significant. It suggests a departure from the sensory bombardment typical of much of contemporary culture, opting instead for a more contemplative, immersive engagement with the work. This withdrawal is not a lack but a space created for deeper interaction, where the phenomenological presence of the performer and the audience becomes paramount. The composition insists on an active, rather than passive, reception, where every note played and every symbol interpreted is an act of co-creation between the composer and the performer.

This piece unfurls a litany of queries: Who are the figures captured in these photographs, and for what reasons were they selected to inhabit each particular stage set? What threads of connection, what intricate web of relationships, binds the photographs, the iconography, and the notational framework together? On what grounds were these specific sets chosen? And by what criteria were these individuals, now forever stilled in the photos, deemed integral to the composition's narrative?

One might venture into the speculative terrain these questions demarcate, recognizing that in the architecture of this composition, every choice is a filament in the dense weave of its overall structure. The individuals in the photographs, perhaps chosen not for their recognizability but for the way their presences echo the elusive themes of the piece, serve as conduits to deeper resonances. They are not merely models but embodiments of the composition's unseen forces, selected for the stories etched into their visages, stories that harmonize with the silent music of the piece.

The photograph's sets, each a meticulously curated tableau, are not random backdrops but deliberate choices, landscapes within which the narrative unfolds. They are chosen for their ability to evoke a sensory response that complements the auditory journey, for their capacity to amplify the composition's thematic preoccupations through visual means.

The connectivity—the interplay between the photographs, the iconography, and the notational archetype—serves as the composition's neural network. It is this inter-relationship that transforms the piece from a mere collection of disparate elements into a coherent, if enigmatic, whole. The photographs do not merely accompany the music; they, along with the iconography, are integral to its notational DNA, suggesting that the music itself might be visual as much as it is auditory, a multi-sensory composition that seeks to engage not just the ear but the entire sensorium.

In choosing these sets, these people, the composer—or perhaps more accurately, the artist—invites the audience into a space where the boundaries between disciplines blur. The reasons for these choices are as layered and complex as the composition itself, reflecting a deliberate aesthetic strategy that seeks to disorient and reorient, to defamiliarize in order to reveal new modes of seeing, hearing, and understanding.

In this way, the composition does not merely pose questions but embodies them, becoming a question in its own right—a meditation on the nature of art, perception, and the invisible threads that connect us to each other and to the world around us. It is in the interstices of these connections that the true essence of the composition lies, a palimpsest of meaning waiting to be deciphered by those willing to look, and listen, closely.

No comments:

Post a Comment