instrumentation: english horn, violin, soprano, mezzo soprano
details: 53 pages, including performance instructions; 8.5 x 14 landscape
text: On a text by Steven McCaffrey: “gnotes”, from Theory of Sediment, “Clints & Grykes”.
zero panorama is linked wholly and intentionally with the structure and semantic relationships of gnotes, by Steve McCaffery (from the collection Clints & Grykes, published in Theory of Sediment, 1991). All structural divisions noted in the score (indicated by rehearsal numbers and letters as well as substructural ligature groupings) correspond to similar divisions in the text-line breaks, punctuation, various spacing systems, and the somewhat enigmatic lines connecting the text’s two columns all have directly analogous musical counterparts. In particular, it was my intention to maintain the relative densities of any given line, segment, or subsection in the setting of the text.
The title comes by way of Robert Smithson’s article, “A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey” (1967). Smithson’s description of Passaic’s “ruins in reverse,” of a construction of buildings which do not “fall into ruin after they are built but rather rise into ruin before they are built” seemed an especially appropriate portrayal of the kinds of generative procedures employed in both McCaffery’s gnotes and in this particular musical setting. There is a constant entropy and rebirth: processes are born only to rapidly decay; others maintain long, linear, developmental progressions but dissolve and mutate into new musical objects through that progression. Smithson writes, “Passaic seems full of ‘holes’ [which are] in a sense are the monumental vacancies that define, without trying, the memory-traces of an abandoned set of futures.”
zero panorama was created for the Fondation Royaumont Voix Nouvelles Courses in Composition, September 1999, for performance by members of the Ictus Ensemble and the New Music Vocal Workshop of the Fondation Royaumont.