Talkback VII “Polaroid” (2018)
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Instrumentation: female voice and prerecorded electronic soundtrack
Duration: 6 minutes
World Premiere: November 3, 2018, Jamie Jordan (soprano), presented by Festival of New American Music at Sacramento State School of Music.
The seventh in a series of compositions for solo instruments and electronics, Talkback VII “Polaroid” is a dialog between a singer and her prerecorded voice. It is based on the eponymous poem by Nick Flynn, which examines a famous exchange between Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso:
POLAROID / Nick Flynn
He paints her face from memory.
But it doesn’t look anything like me, she argues.
Perhaps not, he says—but it will.
With Talkback, I explore extended techniques, enhanced timbre, and other sonic features that are characteristic of the instrument by magnifying and amplifying otherwise subtle nuances and bringing them to the foreground. The deconstructed poem by Nick Flynn informs this process.
Talkback, just like in online media, is a response to something more substantial: western tradition, the canon. It is smaller but often as significant as it is a sincere manifestation of the zeitgeist. Real-time interaction between the singer and her electronic incarnation, similar to forms of contemporary communication—posting, tweeting, blogging, etc.— is filtered, yet very real.