Date of Submission
Academic Programs and Concentrations
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Ironclad Ego is the realization of many ideas, both musical and nonmusical that I have developed during my time here at Bard. Stylistically, it combines the rhythmic groupings of post-classical music, jazz harmony, and heavy metal aesthetics into a unique but consistent sound. I have crafted this style by drawing from my lessons with my composition professor, Kyle Gann, as well as my piano professor, John Esposito.
Lyrically the piece is an exploration of my views on art, God, and the connection between the two. Having been raised in a religious (though not dogmatic) household, religion was always a large part of my life. As my views have developed I have found religion taking a smaller and smaller role in my life while art (specifically music) has taken a larger one. The narrative of the piece details a conversation between a fictional artists and his author. The Artist serves to represent my artistic ambition and arrogance while the Author represents my fear and uncertainty. The conversation is ended by the Artist setting fire to the world, which does not end but reforms, only this time no longer under the control of the Author.
The piece is written primarily for guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, and voice. However, an additional guitar, trumpet, and saxophone are each featured on different pieces within the work. The final piece, entitled, Perpetual Motion: To Be Continued, is written for all of the instruments used throughout the work.
The concert was performed with no breaks in the music by the use of interludes between each piece. These interludes contained both pre-recorded instruments as well as midi samples. Compositionally, each interlude draws on the piece it follows, the piece it precedes, or combines elements of both of them, in order to create a continuous piece of music. They also act as a venue for me to explore music production and utilize the studio not simply as a means of recording, but as an instrument and form of musical expression itself. In order to keep the flow of music continuous click tracks were provided to “core,” musicians who performed on every song so that the musicians would end at the start of each interlude and come in together at the end of each interlude.
All of these elements came together extremely well during the concert. Through a combination of hard work and dedication the musicians were able to successfully navigate the difficult music. With very few exceptions the musicians remained in time and all songs started and ended in tandem with end and start of each interlude.
Overall, the concert was a success. As my most ambitious project I am extremely thankful to all of those who helped me bring it to life. My musicians: Kevin Hickey, Jory Dawidowicz, Matthew Dowden, Paul Parker, and James Strande. The recording engineer for the concert, Paul Sylvester. The live engineer for the concert, Marcel Rudin. Tom Mark for all of the music production and engineering knowledge he has given me, as well as his help in setting up the concert. John Esposito for being the best piano teacher I have ever had. And perhaps most importantly, Kyle Gann, without his support and tutelage none of this music would have been written.
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Firtel, Noah Benjamin, "Ironclad Ego" (2014). Senior Projects Spring 2014. 62.