music made of reactions

The Analyst, Movement III – now up! Gnostic spoken word improv vocal 4tet!

“If you love something, set it free”?  Easier said than done!

With that maxim in mind, here is the third and final movement of my piece The Analyst, performed at Vermont College of Fine Arts in February 2015.

Movements I and II tell the story of the rise and fall of a hubristic Wall Street company man.  In this third movement, the analyst has died and finds himself at the pearly gates to Heaven, where four angels assess his worth.  Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well for him.

This piece was influenced by my experience working in finance during the subprime mortgage boom and bust of 2008 and my attempts to reconcile that culture with my own desire to do good in the world (in whatever small way I can). I suppose I speak through the angels and assess the Analyst’s moral character from a number of lenses. I modeled the piece of medieval morality plays; people have heard echoes of Baptist, Methodist, and gnostic Christian teachings in the text (which wasn’t intentional but I’m sure it’s in there!).

The score is noteworthy because at no point does it give the singers a specific pitch (as you can see in the preview image). The singers are only given intervals in relation to the note they just heard. The piece makes much use of improvisation and small scale indeterminacy. I drew on works by Stockhausen, Alvin Lucier, and Robert Ashley while writing this piece.

A huge thanks to the performers, Aliana de la Guardia, Carrie Cheron, Alexander Nishibun, and Jonathan Nussman, for tackling this weird thing with gusto and all of their skill and bringing my very personal vision it to life!

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