David Smooke - Composer


















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Topographies: transit/dis(solve)

[Click image to view sample PDF score]

(bassoon and prepared piano), 20 min., 2012. Premiered by League of the Unsound Sound, Michael Harley, bassoon, and Shirley Yoo, piano, at the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA.

Michael Parker Harley, bassoon and Shirley Yoo, piano, 2012

“This piece creates sonic reflections of actual landscapes, considering the role of memory as it distorts and fragments our experiences of the world around us. Here, I’m considering our relationship with the natural sphere; how our aural perception changes as we move through physical spaces and how our limited ability to retain specific details of our personal experiences gradually dissolves within us even the most solid of objects. Instead of directly recording bird songs, I transcribed half-remembered impressions of these calls, which I then incorporated into the piece in further variations. Even the timbres of the instruments themselves continually transform, using physical objects in the piano and a variety of unusual techniques in the bassoon in order to create the sense that the music is being heard through intervening layers of mirrors. The bassoon part is microtonal throughout, using a tuning that spins around and through that of the piano, which finally discovers the ability to transcend its typical tuning as the piece nears its close. In addition to playing their instruments, I ask the musicians to move through the performance space and to vocalize.

I composed this work for the bassoonist Michael Harley, and the pianist Shirley Yoo, with whom I’ve worked very closely for several years. They provided great assistance in the creation of this work, which I never would have been able to complete without their willingness to experiment.


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