David Smooke - Composer


Performed by Geoffrey Burleson. At the Festival of New American Music, Sacramento State University, November 2, 2012.









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Transgenic Fields, dusk

[Click image to view sample PDF score]

(solo piano), 15 min., 2012.

Karl Larson, piano, 2012

Transgenic Fields, dusk presents a quiet portrayal of a sound world that is simultaneously bucolic and unnatural. Artificial birds hover over a musical landscape that twists familiar sounds into aberrant shapes. Contemplative melodies weave within synthetic underpinnings that threaten their relatively placid surfaces. As light turns to dusk, the harmonies fade into silence, seeming to strive towards the pure beauty that they find impossible to attain.

In this piece, I decided to limit myself to the equal tempered sounds of the piano as played on the keys themselves, even though I composed it in the midst of a series of pieces exploring microtonality and extended techniques. While developing the harmonies that would function as the basis for this new piece, I found that my ear kept being drawn towards those sounds that involved an element of impurity— that appeared to be based on a single interval but involved one or more tones that came from seemingly- unrelated sonic spaces. I then utilized these hybrid sonorities as the basis for controlled mutations, a sort of transgenic manipulation of the harmonic fields.

Transgenic fields, dusk was commissioned by Geoffrey Burleson and composed for him with great admiration. It is dedicated to the memory of Peter Marvit.