I am applying for this New Music USA Project Grant for the purpose of composing and recording a suite of compositions for an ensemble of 17 to 22 musicians, utilizing instrumental colors found in musical expressions of diverse cultural origins (American, European, Caribbean, South American, etc.), performing music of both a spontaneous and a pre-conceived nature.
My general goal is to create music that in some way alters the underlying structure of spontaneous music, the most important being its flow, i.e., the type of propulsion that drives musical motion. Flow is one of the primary temporal qualities that provoke a physical response from the musicians, as well as a visceral response from the listeners.
A secondary goal is to introduce a different concept of how tonal magnetism (which includes tonal gravity, voice-leading, tonal progression, etc.) is achieved through musical composition. By using the analogy of biological neural networks, spontaneous melodies traveling along tonal pathways can function in ways that reveal novel tonal qualia, perhaps experienced differently by the musician and the listener.
Structurally, this suite will be developed on ideas that reflect the processes, functions and rhythms of the human body. My intention is to model individual elements of the musical composition on the physiological movements within the nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, lymphatic, endocrine, and exocrine systems of the human body. Many of these systems are cyclical, involving the circulation of fluids, gases, and electrochemical signals throughout the body, by using various methods of rhythmic contraction and relaxation. The overall musical structure of the composition will be held together based on the musculoskeletal system, hence the title Synovial Joints Suite.
The concept for orchestrating this suite was inspired by listening to natural sounds recorded in the Amazon Rainforest. I call this concept camouflage orchestration (i.e., disruptive coloration), an idea that distributes instrumental sounds so that they are perceived as being heard in foreground, middleground, and background relationships. This differs from traditional methods of orchestration through the use of rhythm to achieve this orchestration effect, so that it is camouflaged, slowly revealing itself on an unconscious level.
I composed the majority of this suite during a two-month sabbatical from performing. The instrumentation includes my ensemble, Steve Coleman and Five Elements, with guests who normally perform in new music ensembles, and percussionists from Cuba and Brazil. My goal is to record this music in a professional recording studio, and to document the entire process in writing and on video over a 5 month period of time, with the results being presented to the public.