Event Title

A Look at Stuart Saunders Smith’s Use of Voice and Percussive Ecology in "Poems, I II III"

Faculty Mentor

B. Michael Williams, Ph.D.

College

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Department

Music

Location

Barnes Recital Hall, Conservatory of Music

Start Date

24-4-2015 2:30 PM

Description

Renowned composer Stuart Saunders Smith is known for his percussive works and for incorporating the use of the voice into "speech songs," giving his compositions a unique style and vision. His first work, "Poems, I II III,” foreshadows his use of spoken words and vocal sounds relating to percussive noise, and their own inherent sound nature as opposed to literal meaning. This obvious John Cage influence on the use of vocal sounds is spread subtly through his first work, as opposed to his later more elaborate percussion and vocal pieces, alluding to early beat poetry. This piece also showcases his idea of percussive ecology, the ability to get an incredibly large amount of sound from minimal instrumentation (5 break drums and one cow bell played under water). Smith instructs that the performer should play the brake drums melodically and that there be no over dramatization. By doing this, the piece comes off as a reflective and subtle work, playing with sounds and instruments in ways that an audience might not be used to hearing. In my performance of this early work, I hope to embody the spirit that this incredibly important staple of music, in the unique voice of Stuart Saunders Smith, naturally exudes. "Music is not reason. Music need not have anything to do with logic or sequencing. I want the structure of music to be just as alive as life. When I compose, each note is there for a sound." - Stuart Saunders Smith

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Apr 24th, 2:30 PM

A Look at Stuart Saunders Smith’s Use of Voice and Percussive Ecology in "Poems, I II III"

Barnes Recital Hall, Conservatory of Music

Renowned composer Stuart Saunders Smith is known for his percussive works and for incorporating the use of the voice into "speech songs," giving his compositions a unique style and vision. His first work, "Poems, I II III,” foreshadows his use of spoken words and vocal sounds relating to percussive noise, and their own inherent sound nature as opposed to literal meaning. This obvious John Cage influence on the use of vocal sounds is spread subtly through his first work, as opposed to his later more elaborate percussion and vocal pieces, alluding to early beat poetry. This piece also showcases his idea of percussive ecology, the ability to get an incredibly large amount of sound from minimal instrumentation (5 break drums and one cow bell played under water). Smith instructs that the performer should play the brake drums melodically and that there be no over dramatization. By doing this, the piece comes off as a reflective and subtle work, playing with sounds and instruments in ways that an audience might not be used to hearing. In my performance of this early work, I hope to embody the spirit that this incredibly important staple of music, in the unique voice of Stuart Saunders Smith, naturally exudes. "Music is not reason. Music need not have anything to do with logic or sequencing. I want the structure of music to be just as alive as life. When I compose, each note is there for a sound." - Stuart Saunders Smith