for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion, 18 mins
piarinutonello is a dramaturgical work in 19 scenes. It concludes with a short work for solo piano. I use the word dramaturigical rather than theatrical because it is the music that expresses the dramatic narrative and not the musicians. The musicians are tools for the music's characters. I'm also more interested in the sociological notion of dramaturgy - the social interactions of humans in everyday living - than the theatrical one.
The work continues my investigation into the linguistic concept of force dynamics. This concept models the interaction of words within sentences in terms of their influence on each other. "The wind blew the ball across the grass", for example, puts the wind as an agonist applying force to the ball, an antagonist in this situation. The ball's natural tendency is the rest but it can move if force is placed upon it. In language agon/anagonist relationships can be very complex and subtle, a translation into music is to a degree limited to those relationships that truly involve force - a loud sound that causes another instrument to cease playing. However, in my previous work ionobia for oboe, percussion, and piano, I explored how some of the psychological aspects of force dynamics could be expressed through the evolution of music material and instrumental relationships. In that work, for instance, the oboe "goes rogue" and violates a very clear subordinate relationship it has with the percussion. piarinutonello brings this a step farther. It is built from a narrative founded on defined interactions and hierarchies as well as moments of agency in which instruments transgress against their prescribed function in relationships. However, I didn't want to tell a story so simply - I'm not confident that such a story can be told in sound - so instead I give window views into these relationships. These make up many of the scenes.
There is a second narrative in the work as well, founded on practicing. Practicing music is a secret activity. (We like it when only the final product is seen rather than the steps to mastery.) A number of scenes are either dedicated to practicing or incorporate it as a layer of musical activity. Practicing is focused, necessarily selfish work and is good material for musical activity that should co-exist but not recognize other music happening. But we rehearse many things in our lives. A scene is dedicated to the strings practicing their "going rogue" moment against the percussion and piano. We understand, then, that they have been planning the moment of agency. This lends us a different understanding of that event when it comes. It is not temporary insanity but a decisive move to win back some control. Through this piece, I worked on developing a computer program that simulates practicing. The practice events here are the beta testing of this program.