seeker of truth

  (2013)

Synopsis

A setting of the titular poem by E. E. Cummings.

The score for this piece is a stack of cards broken into groups: text, pitch, dynamics, durations, timbre, and tempi.

The performance notes read as follows:

seeker of truth, for solo voice, is a work written indeterminate of its performance.

The cards which make up the score of the piece are separated into seven groups which are used to determine each parameter of the work.

To realize the piece, follow the steps below:

1) Take group 1 (text), shuffle the cards, and at random, select cards until all cards have been chosen. The order in which you’ve selected the pieces of text are the order in which they will be performed. Make a note of this order.

2) Take group 2 (pitches), shuffle the cards, and at random, select a card. The pitch written on the card is the “tonic” pitch of your realization. This is a bit of a misnomer because the pitch selected will act only as the base pitch, upon which other pitch selections will be made. If you’ve chosen C, then C=1, C#=2, D-3, and the C an octave above=13. If you’ve chosen Ab, then Ab=1, A=2, Bb=3, and so on. The octave in which the piece is to be performed is that which is most comfortable for the performer. The performer must use only one octave of pitches per realization.

3) Take group 3 (note durations), shuffle the cards, and at random, select a card.

Instructions for each card are as follows:

Single duration: assign that duration to the first piece of text.
Duration + tie: make a note of the duration, shuffle all the cards, and select another card. Tied durations are to be added together.
Duration + note: make a note of the duration, shuffle all the cards, and at random, select another card. These durations are to be performed as slurs, as the pitches which will be assigned to them may differ.
Duration + rest: make a note of the duration, take group 4 (rest durations), and follow the instructions of Step 4.
Continue selecting cards until you either select a “duration + rest” or end the selection sequence with a single duration. Many combinations of these cards are possible; make careful note of which durations are tied (use solid lines) and which are slurred (use broken lines).

4) Take group 4 (rest durations), shuffle the cards, and at random, select a card. 

Instructions for each card are as follows:

Single duration: a rest of this duration follows the text that immediately precedes it.
Duration + rest: make a note of the duration, shuffle all the cards, and at random, select another card. Consecutive rest durations are to be added together.
Continue selecting cards until you select end the selection sequence with a single rest duration.

Continue steps 3 and 4 until all pieces of text have been assigned durations with the appropriate rests inserted between the text.

5) Take group 5 (numbers + timbre), shuffle all the cards, and at random, select a card.

You will have chosen one of the following:

Single number: pitch senza vibrato.
Number + vib: pitch con vibrato. This vibrato should be natural and unexaggerated, in whatever condition the singer’s vibrato exists normally.

This number corresponds to the pitches designated in step 2. This first pitch is to be assigned to the first piece of text. If the duration of that piece of text includes a “+ note,” shuffle all the cards, and select another card. This second card is to be assigned to the next duration of that the text that is to be slurred. If two adjacent slurred pitches are assigned the same note, do not treat these notes as if they are tied. Continue in this manner until all slurred parts of the first piece of text have been assigned pitches.

Repeat this process for all pieces of text. 

6) Take group 6 (dynamics), shuffle all the cards, and at random, select a card. Assign this dynamic to the first duration of the first piece of text. If there are tied or slurred durations attached to this piece of text, shuffle all the cards, and select another card, assigning the dynamic accordingly. Continue this process until all durations of the first piece of text have been assigned a dynamic. Repeat this process until all pieces of text have been assigned dynamic values. Note: these are tiered dynamics, and the assumed crescendi and decrescendi between dynamics should not be made; the singer should immediately shift between dynamic values where notated. The same is true for shifts between passages con vibrato and senza vibrato, they should be instantaneous.

7) Take group 7 (tempi), shuffle all the cards, and at random, select a card. Assign this tempo to the entire piece.

8) Notate this realization on staff paper so that it will be easy to read in performance. Sign and date this score.

9) Perform this realization only once. Do not record the performance with any audio or video equipment. The only record of this realization will be the score you have made on staff paper. For the next performance, create a new realization. Additionally, no one else is to perform a previously performed realization.

Justin Friello
September 23, 2013
Bronx, New York City

The first realization of the work was written by me and has yet to be performed.