Date of Submission

Fall 2012

Academic Program

Music

Project Advisor 1

Erica Lindsay

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Senior Project Artist Statement

I would consider the material written for my two senior concerts to be a series of experiments, pushing myself outside of the conventional notions of orchestration, harmony, and genre. That said, it is no wonder that the material for each concert varies immensely, as I continued to push myself in new directions for both concerts. Looking back at the entire process, I feel as though I created musical worlds which both express myself as the artist I have become after four years of studying at Bard, and expand my own notions of musical possibilities.

My first Senior Concert, “Let Your Creatures Come Out,” sought to combine a variety of influences, notably jazz, classical, funk, rock, and hip hop, with an 11-piece ensemble, hoping to challenge the way we perceive musical genres, and incorporate all of my influences into a comprehensible, and most importantly, enjoyable, listening experience. Combining a traditional jazz ensemble (horns and rhythm section) with two electric guitars and a string trio, I was able to interweave different genres in a way that uniquely expressed myself as an artist in modern society, in which pop music (funk/hip hop/rock), is at least as prevalent in my musical sphere as art music. I felt I could not express myself adequately solely through art music, yet I wanted to utilize the skills I had honed at Bard and experiment with different ways of blending genres.

My foremost goal, however, was to understand and define myself as an artist and a person. I wanted the concert to have external meaning, and so I looked to my past and the environment I grew up in for definition. Realizing that my hometown of Philadelphia, PA, and most specifically, the neighborhood of Roxborough, in the northwest corner of the city, played more of a role in shaping my identity than any other place in the world, I decided to re-explore this neighborhood over the course of several months and reconnect with my childhood memories. Taking a leave of absence for the Fall ’11 semester allowed me to slowly develop my musical ideas through research, field studies, creative writing, and discussions with my parents, and when I returned to Bard in late January I had not only written several substantial musical works but I had infused them with enough meaning to keep me engaged in polishing them into a performable state. Though much of my work changed through the guidance of composition professors Erica Lindsay and George Tsontakis, the pieces presented at my Senior Concert retained much of the sentimentality and nostalgia which influenced their composition, and I attempted to convey this to the audience in a way that allowed them to not only understand my artistic roots, but also to look back on their own roots and remember those places that lie at the furthest reaches of our consciousnesses.

Having understood and expressed myself as a musical person, I decided to strip down my perceptions of orchestration and harmony and reinvent my compositional style for my second senior concert. Whereas the first concert was more about understanding where I came from, the second focuses on where I want to go. I decided to work with smaller arrangements, from a piano solo to a jazz quintet, to focus on the sounds of each instrument, using each instrument as an individual voice rather than a part of a larger section. Influenced heavily by Debussy and impressionist music of the early 20th century, I began experimenting with a chromatic sense of harmony, using dissonance to bring out unfamiliar, unexpected tonal colors, which I found more satisfying than those of conventional harmony. Over the course of the fall semester I developed this compositional style and wrote six pieces, all incorporating a sense of chromaticism, but varying widely in tone, structure, and orchestration. I feel as though these pieces express myself in a new way, pushing the boundaries of my own sense of music in order to tap into unexplored realms of sound.

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