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Glossolalia // 2018

Alto Saxophone and Electronics

Duration // 8'30"

for Kyle Landry

Written primarily in 2017, and then revised in the summer of 2018, Glossolalia is a work for solo alto saxophone and electronics that is both introspectively reflective of, and “extrospectively” influenced by, the socio-political climate of the United States following the 2016 presidential election cycle.

When I began working on this piece, I initially did not intend for it to be a piece with such a pronounced socio-political edge. In fact, Glossolalia was originally commissioned as a work for trumpet and fixed-media.  It was completed and delivered in early-mid 2017, at which point the performer who had commissioned me backed out only a few hours after delivery citing the “dark tone” and “political content” of the piece.  At this point, Glossolalia lay dormant for almost a year until I began speaking with saxophonist Kyle Landry.  Kyle not only expressed interest in championing the piece, but also expressed that he would also like for the work to have an expanded electronics component, including live-processing.  At this point, I began the revision process of re-composing the work for saxophone with live electronics.  Ultimately, Kyle and my collaboration yielded a successful premiere performance at the 2018 New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, a performance that I will remember fondly as “the one that was so loud it made part of the ceiling cave in”.  As such, this piece is dedicated to Kyle as a thank you for his support throughout its creation.

In regards to the specific content of the piece; I was recording demo material with a circuit-bent radio I had just finished preparing late one night in early January 2017. After spending some time ‘finding sounds’, I flipped from the AM band to FM.  In doing so, I was confronted with radio broadcasts filled with hateful rhetoric, sinister message, and manipulative presentation of “facts”.  Thankfully, I happened to still be recording, and eventually realized that I hadn’t moved from that spot for a number of hours. In that session, I was struck by how in this context, even statements that seem at first innocuous can take on new sinister meanings due to their proximity to such outlandish, zealotry-driven, and openly hateful rhetoric.  With this wealth of recorded material, I chose to try and take these broadcasts and turn them “inside out” so to speak, to transform and / or augment them in ways that would ideally expose the logical leaps, signposting, logical fallacies, and broken syntactic relationships.  The broadcasts used in this piece vary in content, covering topics such as: predicting the United States’ role in bringing about the biblical apocalypse, why monetary donations earn entry into the afterlife, to the “comforts” of mutually assured destruction, and so on. 

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