• Douglas McCausland

Black Amnesia (2019) // Release

In early February, I had the fantastic opportunity to write a new piece entitled "Black Amnesia" for the TAK ensemble during their residency at Stanford. After working so closely with these fantastic performers on the piece for a week, I decided to really take my time in editing the documentation from our recording session. They had done such an extraordinary job preparing the piece that I felt rushing this edit would be a disservice. While that means I'm only just now releasing this after nearly two months, I definitely think it was worth the investment.

This piece was also a special milestone for me, because it's the first substantive project that I truly completed solely during my doctoral studies. In the next couple of weeks, I'll be finishing up the documentation for my second large-scale doctoral project, "ISOLATE" for live electronics performance with a handmade controller in mixed-order ambisonics. I'm also excited to be writing a piece for Duo Illegal's residency at Stanford in May, and performing at a number of universities in California for CEMEC in the coming weeks.


I have a lot to be thankful for, and I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with such incredible people and performers at Stanford. Now, onward to the last quarter of year one, and thanks for listening / reading!

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"Black Amnesia" Program Note:

Written for the TAK Ensemble’s February 2019 residency at Stanford University, "Black Amnesia" is a work composed for soprano voice, bass flute, bass clarinet, percussion, and electronics which explores themes of identity, mania, and catharsis.


Compositionally, the work utilizes fragmentation and interpolation as methodologies for crafting relationships between musical materials and text / language. These relationships are augmented through the use of live electronics in order to expand the sonic capabilities of the ensemble. The result of this is a chaotic work in which thematic gestures and timbral materials continuously fracture, in which antecedent musical ideas are not necessarily presented with their consequent, and in which excerpts from seven texts are continuously integrated with broken speech.


The title, "Black Amnesia", is a reference to the first of seven texts utilized in its composition, which is an excerpt (lines 18 through 21) from "The Night Dances" by poet Sylvia Plath.


“... So your gestures flake off- Warm and human, then their pink light Bleeding and peeling Through the black amnesias of heaven ...”


The remaining six texts were collected from the works of Mark Z. Danielewski, Charles Baudelaire, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Marguerite Duras, Joseph Conrad, and Dylan Walker of the band Full of Hell.

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