OUR DEFENSIVE MEASUREMENTS
“Our Defensive Measurements” is a song cycle that considers the physical placement and social situation of the spectator while using song form to explore the general calculus of human defenses. Approximately an hour long, the collection of songs takes the concert format as a framework to sit with or push against in conjunction with lyrical and sonic explorations of human interaction. Building upon the relationships established between a soloist and a backing chorus or band or in a vocal duet, the piece considered the social role of the audience as a figure in the exploration of how humans protect and create boundaries for themselves. For instance, in the song “Defense,” I appeared as a soloist with the audience surrounding me in a circle as I turned through the song, ever reminded of being surrounded without escape. In another song, “Cradle,” the ensemble cradled their instruments as they sang into them with the audience very close together. And, in yet another song, the audience was placed as far away from the performers as physically possible. The intermission consisted of audience members marking out their zones of comfort with tape, some marking out just the space of their chair, others marking out large chunks of the theatrical space.
The instrumentation for the piece was five singers which each played additional instruments: metallophone, euphonium, clarinet and trombone. In creating the music, I worked with the ensemble to not only find sonic material that fit the subject of the song, but also to find a physical relationship with one’s instrument. Since the piece was commissioned by Roulette, I was able to mold the songs to that particular space. In the future, a performance in another space would engender new staging with the same base principles and could even inspire new songs that would join the collection. The songs were also constructed so that many of them could be performed either with an ensemble or as a solo, so that I can continue to use the songs outside of the larger piece in other contexts.