Gra dźwięków, gra słów

for Female voice, Percussion, Piano

Premiered at the Penn Sound Collective concert of graduate composers.
University of Pennsylvania. December 13, 2018
1. Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami
2. Płakała Zapałka – text by Ania Vu
3. a może... – text by Ania Vu

Duration: 19'

Program Notes

Gra dźwięków, gra słów (Soundplay, wordplay) is a set of three Polish songs written for various combinations of soprano or mezzo, piano, and percussion. All three songs primarily deal with the sounds and properties of the Polish language. The first song is set to a tongue-twister stół z powyłamywanymi nogami (a convoluted way of saying a table with broken legs), and plays extensively with the syllabic nature of the words. The poem for the second song emerged from a phrase that uses several long vowel sounds and similar consonants: płakała zapałka (a match was crying). This phrase set the tone for an intimate story, reminiscent of a childhood fable. The text of a może... originated from my choosing of certain homophones and similar sounding phonemes: może my/możemy/morze/umrzemy. After having picked those, I constructed a narrative. I was also interested in experimenting with the structure of the text, such as the addition and subtraction of syllables. Addition is about building up from a single syllable to a whole sentence using homophones, and subtraction about removing the first syllable of every subsequent line. For the last word of the subtracted phrase, I made sure to choose words that would still make sense on their own, even after being deconstructed. For example, umrzemy (we'll die)􏰀rzemy, not a word, but sounds like że my (that we) --> my (we). Another example would be z tęsknoty (from yearning) --> no Ty (well you) --> Ty (you).

[ Score excerpt (opens in new tab)]
Soprano - Paulina Swierczek
Percussion - Andy Thierauf
Piano - Hanchien Lee