1 August, 2014

Truisms (enjoy yourself because you can’t change anything anyway)

This piece takes its title from a series of one-line aphorisms, created by American conceptual artist Jenny Holzer, and posted around Manhattan between 1977 and 1979 in the form of t-shirts, badges and carvings on public benches. Holzer’s work distilled the very essence of contemporary society – its great pain, delight and absurdity – and packaged its axioms in line with a culture of quick consumption.

Truismsattempts to distil the complex range of sounds produced by the organ to their very essence: a collection of sine waves. However, rather than encouraging immediate gratification, this work demands introspection, concentration and patience from both listener and performer. The piece unfolds slowly and meditatively, exposing minute changes in timbre and patterns of acoustic beating. This gradual process has the effect of playing with the notion of time, reconstructing it as a malleable substance that expands and contracts according to the objects contained within it.

The below recording is gratefully supplied by BBC Radio 3.

This work was premiered at the Royal Festival Hall on 30th March 2014 and developed for Weston Jennings as part of the Embedded Residency 2014/15 at Southbank Centre funded by The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and run by Sound and Music.

For information on the research process that led to this piece and to find out why I consider it a feminist reaction to the organ, see here, and see below for a pdf download sample of the score.

PDF Download