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Extra: self-portrait (2023)

self portrait final mixArtist Name
00:00 / 08:51

This piece is entirely made up of recordings of previous pieces of mine, processed individually in Max, then assembled and processed further in FL Studio. The only addition to the past recorded material is the addition of program notes are themselves spoken in the piece, the text of which is repeated below:


“Program notes are boring enough that they shouldn't literally intrude on the music. However, I think this piece is reflexive enough to justify telling as well as showing.


One of the stories that I have always told myself is that one day, I will wake up with something I can call a compositional style, that I have become myself. Obviously, I'm still waiting for this to happen. It's not really possible. In the meantime, this piece is an exercise in picking up loose threads and tying them into something new. Every sound here is taken from a recording of something else I have written: a self-containing metaphor for the creative process.


Another story that I tell myself is that composing is, to me, primarily an intellectual exercise rather than an act of expression. In this story, the value of art and the embodied ego of the artist are orthogonal, that art is a craft I can hone without revealing any of myself in the process. This is even more of a fabrication than the first. I hang onto it because I am fundamentally terrified of what other people think of me. Maybe I'm preaching to the choir, but my particular brand of self-consciousness is strong enough that I feel a need to obscure it. Self-conscious self-consciousness: also reflexive. 


This is exposure therapy. This voice is set in stone, but the real me, perhaps somewhere out in the audience, is probably fidgeting. That's another reason why you're hearing it. Self-consciousness and selfishness are on some level the same thing, so by writing a piece about it, I risk committing an act of unbearable egomania. That risk is the point. I will now quiet this voice, affirming that the rest of the music is no construct to hide behind, since it is me.”


The recordings used to make this piece are thanks to the Indiana University Concert Orchestra, Dominic Muzzi, JACK quartet, Bent Frequency Ensemble, Brightwork Ensemble, Wet Ink Ensemble, The Resonance Collective, The Rhythm Method, Noah Pujol, Yurong Bao, Maeve Whelan, Jake Pierson, Jaemin Lee, Grant Thomas, Garrett Nichols, Bryson Karrer, Andrew Downs, Brandon Xu, and the Neuqua Valley High School Chamber Strings.


Recommended excerpt:

4:15 - end

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